An important part of the work undertaken by Horsham District Council is to ensure the district’s food businesses handle food hygienically and maintain clean kitchens.
Now, in support of the Food Standard Agency’s ‘Food Safety Week 2013’, the council is encouraging residents to do the same in their own kitchens.
The ‘Kitchen Check’ scheme is designed to make sure food that residents prepare at home is done so safely, without the risk of making their family or friends ill.
This is done with a simple checklist to highlight the most important aspects of food hygiene, as well as other great tips to help kitchens reach similar standards looked for in catering establishments.
In addition to the correct storage, preparation and cooking of food, the scheme emphasises how essential a clean kitchen is to safety, through preventing ‘cross-contamination’.
To demonstrate this, council staff visited the home of Sue Rogers (Con, Steyning), the HDC’s cabinet member for a safer and healthier district, and used specialist measuring equipment to detect hidden dirt on surfaces even when they look clean.
Following the tests, one Council officer said: “Cllr Rogers’ kitchen was generally very clean, and showed excellent attention to detail. However, some commonly missed spots did show slightly elevated levels of organic matter not visible to the naked eye, particularly around the handles of some cupboards and the fridge door, as well as the dials on the oven.
“In some cases, this organic matter can harbour bacteria which could make someone ill if it got on to food. It is very important that any hand-contact surfaces are kept clean. Even if hands are washed often, they can easily and unknowingly become contaminated again between washes if they then touch items when they are dirty.
“Fixtures and fittings that hands regularly come in to contact with, such as doors on kitchen equipment and sink taps, should be cleaned frequently in the same way as work surfaces are cleaned – wipe away any visible dirt or debris and then spray with a disinfectant or sanitiser, making sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.”
Mrs Rogers said: “I was surprisingly nervous about the tests even though I have always prided myself on high levels of hygiene.
“The tests have given me some good hints and tips which I will put to good use.”
Food Safety Week 2013 is being run between June 10-16.
More information on the scheme and the ‘Kitchen Check’ checklist will be available from Monday June 10 at www.food.gov.uk/kitchencheck