5 Food Safety Tips For Caregivers

09 Nov 2023

As a caregiver, whether you’re taking care of a loved one at home or working in a healthcare facility, ensuring food safety procedures are upheld is one of those responsibilities. The health and well-being of those in your care depends on your food preparing methods. In the following article, we’ll provide 5 essential food safety tips for caregivers.

1) Good Hand Hygiene

Before you start handling food, ensuring proper hand hygiene is observed as the cornerstone of food safety. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handing food, especially after touching raw meat or poultry and contaminated surfaces or objects. If the person you are caring for enjoys cooking, encourage them to follow the same practice. Failure to wash hands before and after handling food, could lead to food poisoning. 

2) Follow Food Storage Rules

Proper food storage is essential to prevent contamination and spoilage. There are a couple of food storage rules to keep in mind. Make sure to store raw meat, poultry and seafood in the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, separately from ready-to-eat foods. Store leftovers in airtight containers to prevent cross-contamination, and label and date them to ensure they are consumed within a safe time frame. Keep the refrigerator temperature at or below 4°C to slow down the growth of harmful bacteria.

3) Defrost Safely

If you keep frozen food in the freezer, thawing it properly is a crucial step for ensuring food safety. Avoid leaving frozen food on the countertop for longer than two hours as temperatures between 4°C and 60°C (this is known as the danger zone) allow bacteria to grow rapidly, increasing the chances of a bacteria-riddled dinner and food poisoning. 

Instead, the safest way is to place the frozen food item in the refrigerator and allow sufficient time for gradual thawing (at least 24 hours). This method is recommended for meat and poultry. Alternatively, place it in a sealed plastic bag, immerse it in cold water and change the water every 30 minutes until it’s thawed. For a quicker way, use the microwave’s defrosting setting, but this method is not the most recommended because it can lead to uneven thawing. Once thawed, it’s best to cook it immediately or within one to two days.

4) Cook Thoroughly 

Cooking food to the right temperature will kill harmful bacteria such as salmonella found in undercooked chicken. As a golden rule, ground meat should reach an internal temperature of 71°C, 74°C for poultry and 63°C for fish. Leftovers should be reheated to a minimum of 74°C. Cross-contamination can also occur during the cooking process. There are a few ways to prevent it such as having a separate cutting board for meat, cleaning and sanitising kitchen surfaces regularly, washing utensils thoroughly as well as keeping cooked food and raw food separate. 

5) Be Aware Of Food Allergies

If the person you’re caring for suffers from food allergies, it’s vital to be diligent about using certain ingredients and checking labels, this ensures that prepared dinners and meals don’t contain allergens that could trigger a reaction. Implementing allergen management strategies in the home is a great way to manage it. For instance, having a nut-free zone and preparing an emergency plan.

Our Team Of Carers Are Here To Help

As a caregiver, you play a vital role in the health and well-being of those you care for. Once you practise good hand hygiene, follow the food storage rules, defrost food properly, cook it thoroughly and be mindful of food allergies while maintaining a clean kitchen, you can ensure a safe and healthy environment for your loved ones or residents, reducing the risk of food-borne illnesses. 

If something unexpected has come up and you are unable to care for a loved one, you will need to look for an alternative way to arrange home care. At Hands On Care, that’s what we are there for. Our team of friendly and experienced carers travel across Shropshire to take care of individuals from all walks of life. Whether it’s for a daily check-in, to stay on top of house cleaning or to prepare and cook meals, our home care services can be tailored to you and your loved one’s needs.

To book an appointment, send an online enquiry, call us on 0195 274 3490 or email info@hands-on-care.co.uk today.

Hands on Care Homecare Services Limited
United House,
Tern Hill,
Market Drayton,
TF9 3PX,
01952 743490