High-Risk Foods: What Are They & How to Make Them Safe

In today’s world, where food is readily available and convenience often outweighs caution, understanding the risks associated with certain foods is essential for maintaining good health. High-risk foods are more susceptible to contamination, leading to potential foodborne illnesses if not handled properly. 

From raw meats to unpasteurised dairy products, these foods demand extra care in their preparation and consumption. In this blog, learn about the top high-risk foods and essential techniques to ensure their safe handling and consumption, safeguarding yourself and your loved ones from foodborne illnesses.

Raw Meat and Poultry

Raw meats, including poultry, are breeding grounds for harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. If ingested, these bacteria can cause severe food poisoning. To ensure the safety of raw meat and poultry, cooking them thoroughly to the recommended internal temperature is crucial. 

Additionally, preventing cross-contamination is essential. Store raw meats separately from ready-to-eat foods and use separate utensils and chopping boards for raw and cooked items. Proper thawing methods, such as refrigerator thawing or cold water immersion, should also be practised to minimise the risk of bacterial growth.


Eggs are a common ingredient in many dishes, but they can harbour dangerous pathogens like Salmonella, especially in the shell. To reduce the risk of foodborne illness, it’s vital to cook eggs thoroughly until both the yolk and white are firm. Avoid consuming raw or undercooked Dishes like homemade Caesar salad dressing or baked goods like tiramisu are particularly susceptible. Additionally, ensure that eggs are stored properly in the refrigerator to maintain their freshness and safety.


Raw or undercooked seafood, such as fish and shellfish, can contain harmful bacteria and parasites that cause food poisoning. To ensure seafood safety, it should be cooked thoroughly to the recommended internal temperature. Proper storage and handling are also essential; seafood should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer and thawed in the refrigerator or under cold running water. When purchasing seafood, choose reputable suppliers to minimise the risk of contamination.

Dairy Products

Unpasteurised dairy products can harbour harmful bacteria such as Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. To reduce the risk of foodborne illness, it’s essential to consume pasteurised dairy products, which have undergone heat treatment to kill pathogens. When storing dairy products, ensure they are kept refrigerated at the correct temperature stated on the pack (normally 5 °C or below). Check the expiration dates on dairy products and discard any that have passed their use-by-date to avoid consuming spoiled or contaminated food. Incorporating these storage guidelines into your routine can further enhance food safety and minimise the likelihood of foodborne illnesses.

Prepared Salads or Deli Meats

Prepared salads and/or deli meats are both prone to becoming contaminated during preparation and storage, leading to foodborne illnesses. To minimise the risk of contamination, keep prepared salads and deli meats refrigerated until ready to eat. Consume them within a few days of preparation, and ensure proper hygiene practices when handling these foods, such as using clean utensils and surfaces. Strictly abide by use-by-dates. Avoid cross-contamination of these foods in your fridge by storing any raw meats in your fridge separately from ready-to-eat foods. This means using a different shelf for each food type, and if something has been opened already always reseal property with cling film before placing back in the fridge.


Rice is often considered a high-risk food due to its potential to harbour harmful bacteria, particularly Bacillus cereus. This bacterium can survive cooking and, when rice is left at room temperature for an extended period, can multiply and produce toxins that cause food poisoning. The risk is heightened because rice is commonly consumed in large quantities.
Mitigating the risks associated with consuming rice involves proper handling, storage, and preparation. First and foremost, it’s important to boil rice thoroughly, as high temperatures can kill most bacteria, though some spores may survive. After cooking, rice should not be left out at room temperature for more than an hour to prevent the growth of bacteria. If there are leftovers, they should be cooled quickly and refrigerated within two hours of cooking as this should be sufficient to allow the rice to return to room temperature. Refrigerated rice should be eaten within one day to minimise the risk of food poisoning. When reheating rice, ensure it’s hot all the way through and avoid reheating more than once.

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