Derry City & Strabane - Environmental Health
Health & Community Wellbeing




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Food Safety Advice at Home

Food Poisoning

To prevent food poisoning in the home all consumers should following the advice regarding the purchase, storage, preparation and cooking of food, including the use of leftovers.  

Purchase of food

  • Only purchase food within its shelf-life by checking  ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ dates; 
  • Do not purchase food in damaged packaging/damaged tins; 
  • Purchase chilled/frozen foods last and preferably place these in insulated bags;
  • Keep raw and ready to eat foods separate and pack them separately;
  • Take chilled and frozen foods straight home and put them directly into the fridge or freezer.

Storage of Food in the Home

  • Food with a ‘use by’ date should be placed in the fridge and avoid eating food once ‘use by’ date has expired.
  • Leftovers should be cooled down within 2 hours, refrigerated and used within 2 days. 
  • Open tins should have the contents placed in a storage container or in a covered bowl before they are refrigerated. 
  • Keep your fridge temperature at or below a 5˚C.
  • All raw meat and poultry should be stored on the bottom shelf of the fridge in clean, sealed containers and away from ready to eat foods.
  • All meat and fish can be frozen before its use by date, for a maximum of 6 months; defrost thoroughly before cooking preferably overnight in the fridge, using a bowl or a deep tray to collect fluid from the meat as it thaws.  Alternatively, defrost in a microwave if cooking immediately.  Eat defrosted meat within 24 hours of defrosting.  Never re-freeze raw meat or fish; instead defrost it, cook it, cool it and then refreeze it.

Preparation and Cooking of food in the Home  

  • Wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap after handling raw meat, before cooking, after touching the bin or touching a pet and after going to the toilet.
  • Raw meat contains harmful bacteria and these bacteria can spread easily by chopping boards, knives, tongs and worktops; hands should be washed after handling raw meat.  Raw meat should be kept away from ready-to-eat foods as they will not be cooked further before they are consumed. 
  • Cooking food to a temperature of at least 75˚C will kill harmful bacteria.  Burgers and sausages should be cooked all of the way through and not be served rare or pink because harmful bacteria may be present in the middle, causing food poisoning.



  • Coals should be glowing red with a powdery grey surface before starting to cook.  Frozen meat should be properly thawed.  All meat should be turned and moved around the barbeque regularly to cook it evenly.  Cooking on disposable a bbq can take longer.  Remember to cook the burgers and sausages as detailed above.

Washing fruit and vegetables 

  • Wash under cold water before being eaten to remove dirt and germs; peeling and cooking can further remove germs.

Avoid using cleaning products as they may not be safe for consumption and may taint on the food.


Further Information 

  1. Use by and best before dates 
  2. How to BBQ safely


Contact Details

For further information contact

Food Team on 02871 253253