Food safety during sickness or emergencies

It's crucial to follow food safety tips when you're unwell, or during events that cause water or power cuts.


Prepare food safely when you're sick

Ideally, you should avoid preparing food for others if you're sick. If this isn't possible, you can take steps to reduce the risk of spreading infection.

Personal hygiene is always the most important thing for anyone preparing food.

  • Wash and dry hands thoroughly before touching food or after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, or touching your face.
  • Avoid coughing or sneezing over food. Turn away and cough into a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Cook food and serve it piping hot, as cooking generally kills viruses and bacteria.
  • Have someone who isn't sick serve food. This is safer than having everyone in the family touching serving spoons used in communal dishes.
  • If you live alone, are a single parent, or are responsible for the care of someone who is frail or disabled, you may need to get someone to help you until you are feeling better.
  • Plan ahead. Think of someone who could help you with food and other supplies if you and your family are sick and can't leave the house.

Have emergency food supplies on hand. These can be useful if you're too unwell to shop, or your family is quarantined because you may have been exposed to a virus.

During power cuts, floods and other emergencies

Normal household services such as water supplies, waste disposal (including sewerage) and refrigeration may break down during floods or other disasters, and can pose a health risk.

Because food and water are easily contaminated in these situations, you need to take extra care to avoid getting sick.

Storing emergency food supplies

  • Regularly restock and refresh your emergency food supplies.
  • Check use-by dates and make sure cans and packaging are not damaged or rusty.
  • Throw away any item that is not in good condition.

Find out more

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