Using a slow cooker correctly is extremely important, as the food cooked within it may otherwise be contaminated with food poisoning bacteria, which thrives in temperatures between 4.45 and 60 degrees Celsius (40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit). This temperature range is generally referred to as the ‘danger zone‘.
Using a slow cooker
The following tips should help to make using a slow cooker somewhat safer:
- Soups and stews with comparatively high moisture content are ideal for slow cooking, as the moisture generates steam, which will help to raise temperatures up and out of the ‘danger zone’ fast.
- Frozen ingredients should never be used, as they will significantly slow the cooking process.
- Prepared, uncooked ingredients should never be stored in the fridge in slow cooker inserts, as cold inserts will take far too long to reach required cooking temperatures when using a slow cooker.
- Slow cookers cannot heat large pieces of poultry or meat fast enough to prevent the risk of food poisoning. It is therefore essential to cut poultry and meat into small pieces or chunks to ensure they will be cooked thoroughly.
- Slow cookers should be filled to between half and two-thirds of their capacity. Overfilling when using a slow cooker, will slow cooking time and increase the risk of contamination.
- Ideally, dishes containing poultry or meat should be started on high for an hour before turning the cooker down to low. When practicality does not allow for this, liquids to be added to the dish should be brought to a simmer before adding them to the slow cooker, as this will help to raise temperatures quicker.
- To prevent heat from escaping and subsequently prolonging cooking time, it is recommended not to lift the lid until the dish should be just about ready.
Finally, using a slow cooker to reheat food is not recommended, as it will take too long to reach safe temperatures.
Food safety is not just an issue at home. Restaurants, cafés and similar establishments have a duty of care towards patrons to prevent food poisoning incidents by adhering to strict food hygiene standards, just like they are supposed to prevent injuries by slips, trips and falls.
Should they breach this duty and you are subsequently made ill by restaurant food or injured by a slip, trip or fall, you may be eligible to make a personal injury claim.
Call us, Accident Advice Helpline, from your mobile on 0333 500 0993, or from your landline on 0800 689 0500, for advice on when and how to claim for compensation.
Date Published: October 6, 2016
Author: Accident Advice