Take care when preparing food and choosing containers


<div>In summer we enjoy the delicacies of the season at the summer cottages, on camping trips and at summer parties. By adhering to some basic hygiene issues we can avoid nasty food poisonings. </div>

In the summer especially, it is important to handle food carefully, as microbes thrive and grow the fastest in warm weather. Most microbes multiply quickly in temperatures between + 6 - + 60 degrees C, which is the so-called danger zone temperature range. The microbes multiply the quickest at + 20 - + 40 degrees C and even keeping the food for a couple of hours at this temperature will make easily perishable food inedible. Heat up food to be served until it is hot enough, over + 70 degrees C. If you do not serve the food immediately, cool it quickly to below + 6 degrees C and put in the refrigerator.

Make sure your hands are clean

Always wash your hands before cooking. Wash your hands while cooking also, especially after having handled raw meat, poultry or fish, or before handling another ingredient, for example when you have prepared a salad and are moving onto handling cooked food. For the summer cottage or outing you can bring antiseptic freshen-up towels, if it is not possible to wash in water.

Use a cool box

Make sure that the cold chain remains unbroken, even on the way home from the shop. When travelling, keep food that goes off easily in a cool box with enough ice packs in it. If the trip lasts longer than two hours, buy the products from a closer destination.

Set a full refrigerator at a colder temperature than normal

In order to be able to keep the food for as long as wanted, you should ensure that the refrigerator is cold enough and that the air can circulate. You can change the temperature by adjusting the temperature regulator of the refrigerator. A suitable average temperature for most foods is + 5 degrees C. The refrigerator can also be set at a colder temperature. The temperature of your refrigerator can be tested by putting a glass of water in the refrigerator and measuring the temperature of the water using a thermometer. In a correctly set and filled refrigerator the bottom part is the coldest. At the same time check that the temperature of the freezer is - 18 degrees C.

Keep fish and roe at a cold enough temperature

A safe storage temperature for vacuum packed cold smoked and raw salted fish and roe is + 3 degrees C or below, even in the home refrigerator. Products that have passed the use-by date should not be used. If the product is kept at a temperature over + 3 degrees C, the shelf-life will be shortened. Also when it comes to fish products prepared by you, there is reason to pay attention to correct preparation methods and storage temperatures in order to avoid food poisonings.

Grilling is safest on grilling plates

The charcoal used for grilling is to be made from clean wood, in order not to emit poisonous gases into the food or the environment while burning. The safest of all would be to cook on a grilling plate in order to also avoid the formation of carcinogenic PAH compounds. Tree cones are not to be used as a fuel for grilling.

When grilling on top of a wire grill the amount of heat emitted from the charcoal should be assessed carefully. Charcoal is best suited for grilling when the fat that drizzles onto it no longer bursts violently into flame. Large flames burn the meat or the sausages and cause the formation of PAH compounds. The black colour is a safe indication of the formation of PAH compounds and this is why blackening has to be avoided by adjusting the height of the grill and choosing the correct time for the grilling; that is to say, to wait for at least 20–30 minutes after lighting.

Cook meat products until well done

Steaks for grilling and other raw meat products should be heated until they are well done, in order to destroy any possible pathogens. All cookware and tableware that have been in contact with raw meat have to be washed carefully before they are used for handling cooked meat or other food. A marinade that has been used for raw meat is not to be used for cooked meat.

Watch out for new 'inno' food preparation methods

Summer cooks are presented with and there are many different food preparation methods available for the “inno cook”, where unusual accessories are used, for example metal tins. Using metal tins and other food packaging in a manner different from the norm has got its own dangers. Foreign agents that are harmful to your health may transfer from them and into the food. In order to avoid the intake of foreign agents it is worth avoiding strange food preparation methods and leaving them untried.   

Old containers

Old containers may have accumulated in your home or summer house, and there are no guarantees that they are safe to use. It is safer to leave old odd looking ceramic tankards and worn, cracked and damaged crockery unused. As to newer containers it is also worth assessing whether they are at all suitable for food purposes. Lead might be dissolved especially from ceramic jugs and from mugs brought home as souvenirs. They are to be kept for decorative purposes only. Acid food should not be prepared in uncoated aluminium pots, as the acidic liquid dissolves aluminium from the pot which then goes into the food.


For additional information, please contact:

PAH compounds: Senior Officer Ulla Karlström, tel. 020 77 24288
Food hygiene: Senior Officer Taina Niskanen, tel. 020 77 24318
Containers and preparation methods:  Senior Officer Pirkko Kostamo, tel. 020 77 24236

Evira’s brochure ”Niksejä ja neuvoja turvalliseen ruoanlaittoon” (Hints and advice on safe cooking) can be downloaded from Evira's Internet pages: http://www.evira.fi/portal/fi/evira/tilauspalvelu/esitteet___broschyrer___brochures/

The brochures are free of charge. Postage is charged in accordance with the post office’s valid price list. Ordering information and enquiries by e-mail to the address: tilaukset evira.fi or by phone: 020 77 25104 and 0400 378 710.

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