People in Northamptonshire are putting their health at risk when cooking at home, according to a new survey.
And environmental health officers have been at Penrith Drive Children’s Centre in Wellingborough to promote food safety to families.
They concentrated on hand washing and took swabs and using ultraviolet lights to demonstrate how much bacteria could be on people’s hands.
They also offered advice on fridge management, how to avoid cross contamination, and cooking and re-heating food.
The results of the survey by the Food Standards Agency showed 81 per cent of those asked in the East Midlands admitted to one or more habits that put them at risk of food poisoning, including 30 per cent admitting they would eat food that has been dropped on the floor and 21 per cent not washing their hands properly before preparing food.
The survey also reveals 38 per cent people in the East Midlands don’t check ‘use by’ dates, with 84 per cent of them wrongly using the ‘sniff test’ and 65 per cent just checking the colour.
Unlike ‘best before’ dates, ‘use by’ dates relate to safety and are based on scientific testing, yet 43 per cent of those questioned said they would eat food after its ‘use by’ date – the most frequent food safety gamble admitted.
While admitting these risky kitchen habits, more than 87 per cent said they are confident they get things right with food hygiene all or most of the time and 93% believe they’ve never given family or friends food poisoning.
If they do fall ill themselves, only 6 per cent of people in the East Midlands consider whether the cleanliness of their own kitchen is the cause.
However, the survey also showed some encouraging examples – 98 per cent said they wash chopping boards in between preparing raw and ready-to-eat food and almost 80 per cent stick to the recommended 48 hours for keeping leftovers in the fridge.
Bob Martin, food safety expert at the Food Standards Agency, said: “By not washing their hands before preparing food at home, or ignoring ‘use by’ dates, people in the East Midlands could be setting themselves and their friends or family up for a bout of really unpleasant illness.
“It’s encouraging though to see that the majority of people are concerned about food safety. We’ve created the Kitchen Check to help people to think about why they do in their own homes and make it easier for people to be knowledgeable and confident about storing and preparing food.”
Throughout the week, councils across the county will be working to raise awareness of kitchen hygiene..
The environmental health team at Kettering Council has organised a free workshop and drop in session for Home Caterers and Child Minders.
On Thursday, June 13, the Health Protection team will be at Woodcroft Scout Centre, London Road, Kettering.
The morning will consist of a series of presentations providing information to Home Caterers commencing at 11am and childminders are invited to a drop in session in the afternoon from 1.30pm to 3.30pm.
To book a space or find out more about this event call Karen Albery, health protection officer, on 01536 534213 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on safe eating in the home and to take the Kitchen Check visit food.gov.uk/kitchen-check.