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Cooking food

Food poisoning isn’t just something you get outside your home – the meals you prepare can be a source of food poisoning too.

You can avoid getting food poisoning by cooking your food carefully, following cooking instructions and cooking food for the correct length of time and temperature. This ensures that any harmful bacteria in the food are killed. Here’s some tips to ensure you’re not nibbling on any nasties.

  • A food thermometer can be used to check food is cooked thoroughly, food should be 75°C or above in the thickest part. Some foods change colour when they are cooked so you can check this too.
  • Always check your food is steaming hot in the middle.
  • Make sure frozen vegetables are cooked before you eat them. If intending to use cold, cook first, cool quickly and store in the fridge for up to two days.
  • If you are cooking a large dish you may have to check in more than one place that it is cooked properly.
  • Always follow cooking instructions on the label.
  • Don't reheat food more than once.
  • When reheating, take extra care your food is heated all the way through.

Are you cooking for someone with a food allergy? Read our tips on how to safely cook for someone with a food allergy.

Cooking meat

When cooking certain meats they should be cooked thoroughly all the way through.  To check that meat is cooked properly it is a good idea to use a food thermometer.  Alternatively the meat should also be steaming hot when you cut into it, the juices run clear and there should be no pink meat.

Follow this advice when cooking:

  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Goose
  • Pork
  • Minced meat products such as burgers, sausages and kebabs

If you're cooking a whole chicken or other bird, pierce the thickest part of the leg (between the drumstick and the thigh) with a clean knife or skewer until the juices run out. The juices shouldn't have any pink or red in them and reach a core temperature of 75°C, when using a food thermometer.

Kidneys, liver and other types of offal should be cooked thoroughly until they’re steaming hot all the way through.

Chicken cooking in an oven with messaging saying food should reach a core temperature of 75 degrees in the thickest part

Rare meat

Meats such as steaks and joints of beef or lamb, can be served rare as long as the outside has been properly cooked or sealed to kill the bacteria. But that doesn’t apply to all joints: rolled joints need to be cooked all the way through and checked using the juices and core temperature method.


If you have cooked food that you aren't going to eat straight away, cool it as quickly as possible (ideally within one to two hours) and then store it in the fridge. Make sure your fridge is between 0°C and 5°C.

  • Don't keep leftovers for longer than two days.
  • Rice should not be kept for longer than 24 hours and should only be reheated once.
  • When you reheat food, make sure that it's steaming hot all the way through. If the food is only warm it might not be safe to eat.
  • Don't reheat food more than once.

One of the main reasons for throwing food away is because people cook and prepare too much. Try to cook only as much as you need. But if you do cook too much, using leftovers is a good way to reduce the amount of food you waste and save money too, just make sure you do it safely.

Leftovers being kept in a container with messaging saying don't keep leftovers for longer than two days

More on this topic

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Cooking for people with allergies

If someone is allergic to something, simply taking it off their plate isn’t enough.

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Cross Contamination

It’s easy for germs to spread around the kitchen – stop the spread by avoiding cross-contamination.

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Food allergies

Most allergic reactions to food are mild, but some can be very serious. A small amount of the food concerned can trigger a reaction.

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Nothing Spoils Summer Like Pink Chicken

Food poisoning can wreck your summer barbecue. Keep pink chicken – and nasty food bugs – off the menu.

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Keep yourself and your kitchen clean by washing and drying your hands thoroughly.

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Stop germs growing by keeping them cold. Look out for a 'use by' date or 'keep refrigerated' on the label.

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