‘The “four Cs” of food hygiene are to Cook, Clean, Chill and avoid Cross-Contamination (also called Separation). To achieve this, you’ll have to take stock of what you’ve got in your kitchen that will help you to create a hygienic, safe environment without too much fuss.
Storing and wrapping leftovers and raw ingredients properly will help avoid many of the causes of food poisoning. You don’t have to rush out and buy new sets of everything – after all, pretty much everyone already has a chopping board and storage containers.
However, you might want to consider some of the products below if you want to upgrade, or don’t have them already. I find them really helpful in my kitchen and have highlighted their advantages where applicable.
Cutting Board Mats for Separating Food
If, like me, you tend to use one big cutting board for everything, you’ll find these Cooler Kitchen Cutting Board Mats (available on Amazon) really useful. They go over the top of the board, depending on what you’re chopping.
For example, I dice raw chicken on the poultry one, then swap knives and move on to the separate mat for veggies – rather than wash the board itself between prep. This way, the raw meat doesn’t come into contact with anything else throughout the whole process.
You can buy separate colored entire chopping boards but I have a small kitchen and don’t have the space, so I roll these up and store them. They’re easy to wash (I just chuck them in the dishwasher) and are thicker than some of the flimsier versions. They’re basically a home version of what most professional kitchens use to separate raw food.
Glass Food Storage Containers
A few years ago I swapped plastic storage containers for glass ones, and I wouldn’t go back to plastic. Glass is more environmentally friendly, but to be honest, it was mostly due to laziness – glass is oven, dishwasher and microwave safe, so there’s no need to decant the food into something else before cooking or defrosting it. Plus, tomato-based sauces turned my plastic storage containers pink.
More importantly, glass is inert and doesn’t react with any types of food, even acidic ones (like those tomatoes). Glass containers do have plastic lids, usually, so you have to get quality ones to make sure they’re not leaky or ill-fitting.
The sets made by Prep Naturals are pretty good (all of them are sold by Amazon), and you can get different size combinations depending on the size of your fridge.
For reheating leftovers, you just remove the lid, and stick it in the microwave or oven. So long as you check that the temperature is high enough to kill bacteria (with a thermometer – I wrote a separate article here), this is an easy, safe way of managing food storage.
Food Storage Beeswax Wraps
I love these. If you’re trying to be more sustainable in the kitchen and stop using so much plastic, beeswax wraps are a great option (click to see the range on Amazon). I still use plastic in the kitchen, but I actively try to cut down where possible. Bee’s Wrap (pictured below) is one of the most well-known brands.
I was skeptical at first but now use them all the time. It works just like cling wrap – the heat of your hands helps to seal the wax-infused cotton around dishes or bowls (or food items), just as you would with cling wrap. Then wash it and use it again. Each one lasts about a year.
They work wonderfully well on almost anything – except raw meat. For that, you’ll have to return to the usual cling wrap or cling film, but make sure you use a good grade (freezer gauge is a good start, like this wrap, also on Amazon). Alternatively, you can use a glass storage solution (as described above).
Reusable Silicone Storage Bags
I went through hundreds of the zip and seal type one-use plastic bags before I discovered reusable silicone ones. They’re a lot more durable and leakproof, and stay upright in the fridge (or freezer) even when full, which flimsier bags don’t.
There are lots of brands available, but Moico (who sell on Amazon, you can view them here) have a well-reviewed set.
When you’ve used the bags, you just turn them inside out to wash or put in the dishwasher. One of the other advantages is that you can put them straight into the microwave for reheating food, too.
If you cook a lot at home you might want to read this article on food prep products that help with food hygiene, as well as hygiene for your hands, and natural solutions for keeping your kitchen clean, too.