Would your uni kitchen pass this food hygiene test?
Please tell me you’ve washed your tea towels since moving in!!
You walk into your uni kitchen – there’s food everywhere, the surfaces are greasy and the washing-up pile keeps growing. The germs are overwhelming. You go to grab yourself some last-minute dinner and the only thing in the fridge is your leftover chicken and rice meal from yesterday. Fear sets in. You frantically text your mum: “How long do I heat it up for? What pot should I put it in?? Is the rice going to POISON me?!”
Don’t panic! It’s time to get informed and get your facts straight. Take our quick and easy test below to find out if your kitchen and cooking habits would pass the food hygiene test.
There are 11 questions below, each testing your food hygiene know-how. Note down your answers for each, and at the end of the questions we’ll tell you which answers were correct – and if you’ve passed.
Would your uni kitchen pass this food hygiene test?
1. In your shared fridge, how do you store raw meat?
a. Shove them in wherever there is space
b. Place them in a sealed container on your shelf to avoid cross-contamination
2. Should you wash raw meat before cooking it?
a. Yes, this kills germs that cooking can’t kill
b. No, as you could splash contaminated water on yourself and other food or surfaces
3. What is the most important thing to do after handling raw meat?
a. Wash your hands thoroughly
b. Cook the meat properly
4. Which meat products must never be eaten pink?
a. Turkey, chicken, pork, burgers, kebabs and minced meat products
b. All meat products
5. How important is the use-by date?
a. Extremely important as this determines when your food is no longer safe to eat
b. Not that important as they’re normally too cautious
6. What is the difference between use-by and best before dates?
a. A use-by date on food is about safety, whereas the best before date is about quality
b. They both determine if your food is safe to eat
7. At what temperature is the ‘Danger Zone’ (where germs spread especially fast)?
a. Between 8°C and 63°C
b. Anything above freezing
8. What is the optimal temperature for a fridge?
a. 6°C to 8°C
b. 0°C to 5°C
9. Why does freezing food make it last longer?
a. Because the temperature kills the germs
b. Because the temperature stops the germs from multiplying
10. What is the safest way to defrost food?
a. In the oven to ensure all germs are killed
b. In the fridge to ensure the food is fully defrosted before it is cooked
11. When shopping, how can reusable cotton bags help with preventing cross-contamination?
a. The cotton helps to kill germs
b. The bags can be washed frequently
Question one: b. Place them in a sealed container on your shelf to avoid cross-contamination
You may not be able to store your raw meat on the bottom shelf so, it is important to wrap or seal it in a container to store it on your shelf to avoid cross-contamination. If any juices from the meat leak out, they will be less likely to drip down and contaminate other food.
Question two: b. No as you could splash contaminated water on yourself and other food or surfaces
Some people think washing raw meat is necessary to kill germs but it isn’t. In fact, it’s likely to spread more germs and increase the chance of cross-contamination. All harmful germs will be killed in the cooking process.
Question three: a. Wash your hands thoroughly
Both are important. However, raw meat can be very dangerous so if you are handling it, you must wash your hand thoroughly afterwards. Where possible, you should wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
Question four: a. Turkey, chicken, pork, burgers, kebabs and minced meat products
These products must be cooked thoroughly, this means they must be steaming hot and cooked all the way through. When you cut into the thickest part of the meat, check that none of it is pink and that any juices run clear. In a whole bird this is the area between the leg and the breast.
Minced meat, such as burgers and kebabs must also be cooked this way. When meat is minced, any harmful bacteria from the surface of the meat can get spread throughout the burger. As a result, rare and undercooked minced meat can have harmful bacteria on the inside and may cause food poisoning if not fully cooked.
Did you know that you also have to cook breaded chicken products like chicken nuggets thoroughly too as they are raw meat. Remember to always check the on pack instruction.
Question five: a. A use-by date is extremely important as this indicates when your food is no longer safe to eat
Always check your use-by dates, they’re there for a reason. Don’t forget that you can freeze food on the use-by date too.
Question six: a. A use-by date on food is about safety, whereas the best before date is about quality
A use-by date on food is all about safety and so this is the most important date to remember. You can eat food until and on the use-by date but not after. You will see use-by dates on food that goes off quickly, such as meat products or ready-to-eat salads.
Whereas, the best before date is about quality. The food will be safe to eat after this date but may not be at its best. Its flavour and texture might not be as good.
Question seven: a. Between 8°C and 63°C
Most harmful bacteria will grow at temperatures above 8°C and below 63°C – this is known as the ‘Danger Zone’ for microbial growth. That’s why we advise that the safest way to defrost food is in the fridge overnight.
By defrosting in the fridge, your food should never enter the ‘Danger Zone’. Your fridge should be 5°C or below, as some bacteria can grow at lower temperatures than 8°C.
Question eight: b. 0°C to 5°C
Make sure to check regularly that your fridge is cold enough. Read more about fridge temperatures and safety checks here.
Question nine: b. Because the temperature stops germs from multiplying
A freezer acts as a pause button – food in a freezer won’t deteriorate and most bacteria cannot grow in it. You can freeze pre-packaged food right up to the ‘use-by’ date. Leftovers and homemade goods should be frozen as soon as possible. Make sure any warm dishes are cooled before putting them in your freezer.
It doesn’t matter if you cook your meat from frozen or fresh, you can use your leftovers to make a new meal. This new meal can then be frozen, but make sure you only reheat it once. Love Food Hate Waste (Opens in a new window) have for more information on freezing leftovers, including recipe ideas.
Check packet instructions to ensure that foods are suitable for freezing, especially for Ready-To-Eat foods.
Question ten: b. In the fridge to ensure the food is fully defrosted before it is cooked
When defrosting food, the important thing to remember is that because the bacteria haven’t been killed, they may be revived as the food defrosts. Make sure the food never enters the ‘Danger Zone’ because the bacteria may grow and make you ill. This is why you should defrost food within a fridge.
You should also avoid defrosting food at room temperature, if this isn’t possible, use a microwave on the defrost setting directly before cooking. Check the guidance on food packaging and allow enough time for your food to defrost properly. Large items can take up to 4 days to defrost fully in the fridge.
Make sure your food is fully defrosted before cooking. Partially defrosted food may not cook evenly, meaning that harmful bacteria could survive the cooking process. Once food has been defrosted, eat it within 24 hours.
Question eleven: b. The bags can be washed frequently
Reusable cotton bags are great because they can be washed in between uses so if any spillages from raw meat packages happen, you can ensure the bag is properly cleaned before you use it again.
Another good tip when you’re shopping is to have separate bags for raw meat, other food and cleaning products. This further prevents the risk of cross-contamination.
Did you pass?
PASS: Two or less questions answered incorrectly. Well done! You know your stuff but there’s always room for improvement when it comes to food hygiene – visit food.gov to ensure you have all the facts.
COULD DO BETTER: More than two questions answered incorrectly. Don’t worry! Most students aren’t aware of the necessary precautions needed when it comes to food hygiene. Visit food.gov to fill in any of the gaps in your knowledge and educate yourself on how to keep your food safe.