Tip of the Week

How to avoid E.coli contamination in our kitchens?

We have all heard about E.coli food poisoning outbreaks but what is it and how do we avoid contamination in our kitchens?

E.coli bacteria is found in the gut of cattle; however it is not just meat that can be infected.  E.coli can be present in the manure and compost used to grow our vegetables and salads.  It can also be present in the water used to grow crops such as rocket or watercress.

E.coli is a particularly dangerous type of bacteria due to its very low infective dose.  It follows that very low levels of contamination of ready-to-eat food can cause illnesses, ranging from mild diarrhoea through to very severe inflammation of the gut and even death.

How do we avoid contamination in our kitchens?

Raw meats must be stored separately from ready to eat foods.  If you do not have a separate raw meat fridge, then store the meat on the bottom shelf of the fridge.

Prepare raw meats separately from ready to eat foods.  Prepare raw meat on a clear table using a red chopping board.  When the preparation is finished, remove the board and knife for washing and sanitising, wash hands and clean and sanitise the work space before any other food preparation takes place.

Store dirty/unwashed veg and salad below clean/prepared veg/salad.

Wash all salads and vegetables before preparation (unless it is labelled as “Washed and Ready to Eat”). Wash in a sink of water, rinse in clean water.


Store raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods at all times.

Weekly Food Fact

Recent E.coli outbreak culprits have included fresh salads, rocket, and root veg as well as fresh meat.  There is currently an E.coli food poisoning outbreak in America with 200 people affected, 89 people hospitalised and 5 fatalities.

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