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Cooking and Re-Heating Food

Cooking food properly will help make sure that any harmful bacteria are destroyed. If you eat food that isn't properly cooked you could well get food poisoning.

Making sure food is hot enough

To test if food has been properly cooked insert a small knife into the food to check that it’s steaming hot in the middle. However if you are cooking a very large dish, you may need to check it in more than one place, because some parts of the dish might not be hot enough. Cooking thermometers or temperature probes are an easy way to check if food is cooked properly. The food should reach a temperature of 70°C for more than 2 minutes in the middle or thickest part. Some types of food change colour when they’re cooked. Looking at colour is especially useful for checking meat.

Checking if meat has been properly cooked

It's very important to make sure that poultry such as chicken and turkey, pork and meat products such as burgers, sausages and kebabs are cooked properly all the way through. If you’re checking a burger, sausage, or a portion of chicken or pork, cut into the middle and check there is no pink meat left. The meat should also be steaming hot in the middle. If you're checking 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 should run clear and not have any pink or red in them.

Using a micro-wave oven

Microwaves make the water molecules contained in food vibrate and 'wiggle', which in turn produces heat, this is what cooks the food, and also why the oven itself doesn't heat up. Foods that have a lot of water, like fruits and vegetables will cook more quickly. Foods high in fat and sugar also cook more quickly. Metal reflects the microwaves, and the energy passes through glass, plastic and paper.

Reheating food

When reheating food it should steaming hot all the way through or reach a temperature of 70°C for more than 2 minutes. Food should only be reheated once and any leftovers should be discarded

Leftovers

If you have cooked food that you aren't going to eat straight away, cool it as quickly as possible (ideally within 90 minutes and then store it in the fridge. Make sure your fridge is between 0°C and 5°C. About a third of the food we buy ends up being thrown away and most of this could have been eaten. 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, as long as you do it safely. Don't keep leftovers for longer than two days!