Easy home cooking – 5 food hygiene mistakes and how to correct them

Believe it or not, the phrase “easy home cooking” is an oxymoron to many people who find that there is nothing easy about preparing food at home.

We can’t blame you if you feel the same way. Cooking is an involved process. It starts with knowing what you want to cook, sourcing and buying ingredients, and then preparing these ingredients -- washing, chopping, cutting, slicing, or pre-cooking them.

Not to mention, easy home cooking also includes washing the pots and pans and cleaning down the kitchen after you cook. It’s a lot of work!

As if all these are not enough, there is another important aspect that is the tie that binds all these steps to make easy home cooking a success: practising food hygiene.

Food hygiene is central to achieving food safety. It is defined as the conditions and measures necessary to certify the safety of food from production to consumption. Food hygiene leads to food safety, and food safety is a shared responsibility between those that handle food and those who consume it.

In this article, we’ll discuss 7 food hygiene mistakes to avoid. Food hygiene is a cross-cutting topic we incorporate as we enable participants to acquire basic culinary skills.

  1. Personal hygiene. Germs or bacteria are found in and on the body and transferred onto anything with which the body comes in contact with. Personal cleanliness is essential to preventing germs from getting onto food and good personal hygiene helps prevent food-borne diseases from spreading.


A common mistake is when a person is wearing jewelry while working in the kitchen.  Rings, watches and jewelry should not be worn where food is handled. Particles of food may be caught under the ring, and germs could multiply there until they are transferred onto food. Watches should not be worn because some food stuffs have to be plunged into the water. Jewelry should not be worn, since it may fall into the food.


  1. Kitchen Hygiene

Cleaning can be defined as the application of energy to remove dirt, grease and other soiling. Cleaning is essential to food safety.

A common mistake is when chopping boards are not immediately washed and dried in between use. Another common mistake is when only one chopping board is used for cutting both vegetables and fruits and raw meats.

            The simple rule to follow is to wash and air-dry kitchen utensils and equipment as soon as used. Do not leave them overnight so as not to attract bacteria or vermin. When using chopping boards, it is best to use different chopping boards for cutting fresh vegetables and fruits and raw meats so that the bacteria from the raw meats do not mix with the vegetables and fruits, especially those eaten raw.

Aside from washing thoroughly with water and food-grade detergent, sanitise utensils if applicable (use hot water at temperature not lower than 82 degrees for at least 2 minutes or  immerse in water at 100 degrees for 30 seconds.)

  1. Food Safety (General Food Hygiene)

Easy home cooking begins with the way we store food. Fridge settings help store food longer, but don’t just put food anywhere. Food for defrosting must be put in the lowest rack below cooked food.

A common mistake is when using the microwave open, and not cleaning it afterwards.

You must remember to clean and sanitize microwave oven before using it for other purposes again. This is especially important when you are using a microwave for defrosting ingredients like frozen meats.

Another common mistake is when thawed food is refrozen. Thawed food must never be refrozen. Remember that freezing does not kill bacteria, it only prevents the microbes from multiplying. So thawed food will have some bacteria that can multiply at room temperature, meaning that if the food is refrozen, there will be an increase in bacterial count by the time it is thawed again.

To safely defrost food, follow the guidelines below:

  • Do not thaw food by exposing them on the table at room temperature.
  • Food should be thawed in the fridge or under cold running water.
  • Food must be completely thawed before use. The reason for this is that when you cook partially thawed food, the outside of the food could be cooked, but the inside is not and this is where bacteria could potentially grow.
  • Catch drippings when handling defrosted food and its wrappers.
  • Thawed food must never be refrozen. See above paragraph for explanation.


  1. Reheating Food

How many times it is safe to reheat food? Most people think that reheated food is safe to eat regardless of the number of times it’s been reheated as long as it does not smell or taste foul.

First of all, food should be adequately reheated to above 75 degrees for at least 2 minutes to kill bacteria.

A common mistake is to think that food can be reheated multiple times. Food must not be repeatedly reheated for consumption over a few days.

In fact, it is recommended to reheat food only once. While almost all foods can be reheated numerous times, it is best practice to avoid reheating the same meal where possible. Each time food is cooled, stored and reheated, the likelihood of harmful bacteria multiplying increases.

  1. Wrapping Food

We all love to tabao food, but make sure that the container we use to take away food is clean and dry, and made with food-grade packaging materials.

This is important for raw food as well. Make sure that the containers have tight-fitting lids when food is transported.

A common mistake is not minding where in the fridge we store raw and cooked food. We should store raw food in the lowest rack. In case raw food thaws and drips, it will not contaminate the cooked food.

  • Raw food must be stored appropriately, using containers.
  • Made of food – grade packaging materials.
  • That are clean and in good working conditions.
  • That come with tight-fitting covers or lids.
  • Raw food should be placed below cooked food.


When you come to class, we will embed learning food hygiene and safety as part of your fundamental theories and practices. Check out our next Chef In Training Easy Home Cooking class and learn the full module on food hygiene and safety – a must for everyone cooking at home or professionally.

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