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What are high-risk foods, and how can I use them safely?

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Every year, there are more than 2.5 million cases of food poisoning in the UK. Food poisoning can happen to any food, but certain foods are more at risk than others. Knowing how to store and use high-risk foods safely is important to ensure safety for your guests and employees.

This article will discuss high-risk foods and their potential danger. These high-risk foods can be dangerous, so we will also discuss how to avoid them and give guidance on how to store them safely.

What are high-risk foods?

High-Risk Foods that support harmful bacteria growth are not allowed to be cooked or treated in any way. These foods should be kept refrigerated.

Low-Risk Foods are stored in ambient conditions. Bakeries cannot multiply in dry foods or foods with high sugar, salt, or acids such as vinegar, lemon juice, or sulphites.

These are some examples of low-risk food options:


Canned food.

Dried pasta.

Dried rice.

Examples of high-risk foods

These are some examples of high-risk foods that are common:

You can cook meats and poultry.

Products made from meat, such as stews or pate.

Pastries and pies that are ready-made.

Stock, gravy, sauces, and soup.

Shellfish, especially oysters, crabs, and prawns.

Mayonnaise and raw egg products are examples.

Dairy products

Cooked rice.

Raw chicken is often mistakenly considered to be a high-risk food. Raw chicken can cause illness if not properly cooked or thawed. Raw chicken is not considered to be a high-risk food. It would be cooked or roasted to remove any bacteria before it could be eaten.

Why Might High-Risk Foods Cause Food Poisoning?

Two things are required for bacteria to grow: food and moisture. Bacteria prefer foods rich in protein, such as meats and dairy products. High-risk foods promote the growth of bacteria because they don’t go through any other process (e.g., cooking, which would kill the bacteria). These foods are more susceptible to food poisoning.

There are several common types of food poisoning:

Salmonella. This common form of food poisoning is usually caused by undercooking and contamination. Each year, approximately 2,500 people in the UK suffer from food poisoning.

Campylobacter. This is the leading cause of food poisoning in Britain due to undercooked poultry.

Escherichia coli (E.coli) 0157. E.coli can cause potentially fatal injuries to young children and the elderly. This can be prevented by thoroughly cooking meats.

Listeria. This bacteria can be found in raw milk, other products made from it, and processed meats. Listeria is a serious risk as it can withstand a refrigerator’s frigidity. This can only be destroyed by thorough cooking.

Clostridium perfringens. Nearly one million people are infected each year. The most likely source of this bacteria is large amounts of cooked meals that have been heated for a long time before being served. Because they feed many people simultaneously, companies and institutions are often responsible.

Check out our article, Complete Guide To Food Borne Diseases, for a complete list of diseases associated with high-risk food items.

Who is most at risk?

These may seem to pose minimal health risks because our immune systems are often capable of fighting off many of these ailments. Things can quickly get very serious when germs are spread to those who don’t have an immune system that is fully functioning or developed.

These illnesses can be especially dangerous for children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with pre-existing medical conditions. Food poisoning can lead to death, so high-risk foods must be handled carefully.

What can I do to prevent risks?

Kitchen users must be familiar with basic law and practice. Anyone who does not know the basics can face prosecution, heavy fines, or even a prison sentence. Knowing the difference in use by and best can eliminate many potential dangers and all legal and health ramifications.

It would help if you also allowed food safety officers access to inspect stock to ensure compliance with the law. There is no room for error.


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