Food poisoning

What can consumers do to protect themselves from food-borne illness?

A few simple precautions can reduce the risk of food-borne diseases:

  • COOK meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly. Using a thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat is a good way to be sure that it is cooked sufficiently to kill bacteria. For example, minced beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 72°C. Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.
  • SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate one food with another. Avoid cross-contaminating foods by washing hands, utensils, and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food. Put cooked meat on a clean platter, rather than back on the one that held the raw meat.
  • CHILL: Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature, so refrigerate leftover foods if they are not going to be eaten within 4 hours. Large volumes of food will cool more quickly if they are divided into several shallow containers for refrigeration.
  • CLEAN: Wash produce. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables in running tap water to remove visible dirt and grime. Remove and discard the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage. Because bacteria can grow well on the cut surface of fruit or vegetable, be careful not to contaminate these foods while slicing them up on the cutting board, and avoid leaving cut produce at room temperature for many hours. Don't be a source of food-borne illness yourself. Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food. Avoid preparing food for others if you yourself have a diarrhoeal illness. Changing a baby's nappy while preparing food is a bad idea that can easily spread illness.
  • REPORT: Report suspected food-borne illnesses to your local environmental health department (
  • The local environmental health department is an important part of the food safety system. Often calls from concerned citizens are how outbreaks are first detected. If an environmental health officer contacts you to find out more about an illness you had, your co-operation is important. In environmental health investigations, it can be as important to talk to healthy people as to ill people. Your co-operation may be needed even if you are not ill.

For information regarding the different types of food poisoning see our food poisoning types page.

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Allerdale Borough Council
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