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Things You Should Know Before You Leave Home: Food Safety

The Stuff You Need to Know but Nobody Actually Teaches You. Lesson One: Food Safety

Adult life is hard.

Do you remember when you were a kid and you couldn't wait to be all grown up and have loads of money to spend on whatever you want? Yeah, how's that working out for you? For me, let's just say I would have to save up to go broke.

Living at home with your parents or whoever you lived with might have seemed like a nightmare. But when you move out you realize just how much you took for granted and how much you miss having someone to take care of things for you.

But you're an adult now, and that shit is hard. It's tiring, boring, and really unfair at times. But there are a few skills that can help make adulting a little easier. So if you had Disney style parents who totally prepared you for life then move along, nothing to see here. But for the rest of us, I will do my best to help you hate your life a tiny bit less every day.

I warn you, it won't always be interesting stuff we're learning, but; A. That's adult life for you and B. It's all stuff you need to know. 

Food Safety

I told you it would be boring, but food safety is something that you can't live without, literally. Not knowing about food safety could potentially kill you. That's why it's on the top of our list. Everyone knows about washing your hands after coming into contact with raw meat and poultry.

If you don't, then you really shouldn't be moving out or making dinner. But there are quite a few more food safety rules that will help stop you or anyone else from getting sick.


Wash your hands before and after touching food, you need to do this every step of the way. Don't go touching things around the kitchen after you have just handled raw meat or poultry or you'll be spreading those deadly bacteria all around the kitchen. Doing this puts other people at risk too. 

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and antibacterial hand wash. Turn the taps on with your wrists or elbows to avoid touching the tap heads and contaminating them too. People think that just washing hands is hygienic enough, but it's not. Bacteria love damp conditions and the more damp your hands are, the more germs they'll have on them. Dry them with a clean towel to help kill as much bacteria as possible.

As soon as you've finished chopping raw meat or poultry, thoroughly clean the surfaces and utensils you used. Use an antibacterial spray and kitchen roll/paper so you can throw it away. If using a kitchen roll isn't environmentally friendly enough, then you can use a cloth. Just make sure you disinfect it afterwards. If you don't, then you might as well be wiping the counter with a raw chicken breast, but please don't do that.  


When you're preparing food, keep raw things away from food that's already cooked. See, I told you being an adult was hard, there's a lot to remember!

Use separate knives and chopping boards when cutting raw and fresh food. Never use the same knife without thoroughly cleaning and drying it first.

Foods need to be separated in the fridge to prevent contamination too. The picture above is a really handy guide. 

Disinfect your chopping board before and after washing it or putting it in the dishwasher. I recommend plastic or glass chopping boards. They might not look as cool, but they can be cleaned much more effectively. They can be put in the dishwasher and once they start to get badly scratched, they can be replaced because they're cheaper than wooden ones.

You need to replace them when they are badly scratched because the scratches are like little havens for bacteria. 

Cook and chill.

Chilling in the Fridge

Seafood, meat, eggs, and poultry all need to be cooked properly if you don't want to poison anyone. Investing in a food thermometer makes sense, especially if you are a little bit nervous about cooking. The cooking process kills most of the dangerous bacteria present in meat and it needs to reach a certain temperature to get the bacteria to a safe level. 

And it's not just cooking you need to keep an eye on. Cold foods need to be handled carefully too. When foods that are meant to be cold get too warm, the bacteria in the food can multiply to dangerous levels. 

And it doesn't take long, believe me! I once got some potato salad from the supermarket on a very hot August day. I had a 40-minute walk home, went to town on the potato salad, and spent the next four days in the hospital with food poisoning. So always buy cold and frozen foods last when you are at the supermarket and try to get them home as soon as possible. 

Best Before Vs. Use By

A lot of food waste is caused by confusion over expiration dates.

People have some pretty strong feelings about this—seriously, people really get on their high horses. Some people say that once food has gone past its "best before" or "best by" date that you shouldn't eat it. But even manufacturers say that the phrase best before just means that the item is at its best before that date and will decrease in quality, not safety.

Use by dates are a different story, some foods are fine for a couple of days after their use by date, some aren't. And some foods can become incredibly dangerous even after one day, so in my opinion, it's best not to risk it. And yes before you say that there is such a thing as common sense, I know there is. But common sense won't protect you from food poisoning. Don't risk it. You can't smell or taste the bacteria that could cause serious illness.

Don't risk it.

It's not worth risking anything or cutting corners when it comes to food safety. If you've never had food poisoning, believe me, you don't want it. And if you have, do you really want it again?

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