To mark the start of ‘Food safety week’ which runs from 7th -13th June the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is reminding everybody about the importance of good food hygiene.
The Trust is the local provider of mental health and learning disability services and cares for people in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield.
The Trust’s infection prevention and control team have been working in partnership with Janet Marsh as the facilities department food hygiene trainer to stress the importance of food hygiene particularly during the summer months when levels of food poisoning in the local community can soar.
There are around 120,000 extra cases of illness recorded across the UK when the weather is warmest. Coffee table information packs containing quizzes and a fact sheet are being sent out to all units across the Trust as a way of providing information for staff.
Janet said: "There are some simple common sense steps people can take to avoid getting ill. Just storing, handling and cooking food properly will minimise the risk. At this time of year, barbecues pose a particular risk, as the food is often not stored or cooked correctly and cross-contamination is common."
Ali Perring and Lynne Hartley, who work in the infection team, are advising that following simple principles will help people to keep food safe. Proper cooking will kill food bugs especially when cooking meat. They say, "If there’s any pink meat or the juices have any pink or red in them, germs could be lurking! Check your food is steaming hot all the way through before serving."
Avoiding cross-contamination between raw and cooked food is also extremely important, to prevent bacteria from spreading, as is spreading germs from contaminated surfaces or utensils. The team also highlights that clean hands in the kitchen are vital in the fight against food poisoning. Food that needs to be chilled should be kept in a fridge, that’s running at the right temperature – between 0°C and 4°C. Storage above this range can allow bacteria to grow or harmful toxins to form.
The Trust recognises its responsibilities for ensuring that all reasonable steps are taken to protect service users, staff, agency staff, contractors and other visitors from the spread of germs. Effective prevention and control is embedded into everyday practice and applied consistently by everyone and this includes the safe preparation of food.
More advice on food safety is available online at eatwell.gov.uk