Food Safety and Hygiene

What are High Risk Foods? Types, Bacteria & Prevention

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Have you ever had a particular food and started feeling unwell? So unwell that you began to vomit, have diarrhoea, feel nauseous, and have stomach cramps? These mentioned symptoms are caused by food poisoning, and it is related to high-risk foods. These foods can only make you sick if they are not handled, prepared and cooked following the proper method.

High-risk foods have an ideal condition for the bacteria to grow, live and thrive. Your favourite foods can make you sick if not prepared appropriately, so it is essential to know how to prepare and store them. This blog will tell you precisely what you need to do to enjoy your favourite foods without falling sick.

various types of raw meat and sausages


What are the five main food groups?

Before we jump on the high risk foods, let’s have a look at the groups in which foods are divided.
The five main food groups are- dairy, vegetables, fruits, grains and protein.

Food groups make dietary advice more straightforward, focusing on foods rather than nutrients. For example, it’s easier to eat two cups of fruit every day than consume 75 milligrams of vitamin C and 25 grams of fibre.

What do high-risk foods mean?

Foods that provide a favourable environment for bacterial growth, often known as potentially hazardous foods, are more likely to harbour deadly bacteria and other disease-causing organisms such as viruses and parasites. For example, the bacteria in high-risk foods can cause food poisoning if the food is incorrectly stored, prepared, handled, or cooked.

Consequently, temperatures between 5 and 60 degrees Celsius are the most dangerous for food poisoning germs to develop and reproduce. Therefore, you should keep high-risk foods out of this temperature.

So, knowing “What is Food Poisoning?” helps you see the dangers of “High-Risk Foods.” It links to different types of germs and ways to stop them, which are very important for keeping food safe and avoiding people getting sick from food.

Why do the foods have high risk?

High-risk foods have specific properties that encourage the growth of harmful bacteria. For example, bacteria, which may reproduce swiftly in the right conditions, constitute a significant source of food contamination.

When anything that shouldn’t be in food is discovered, it’s called food contamination. It has the potential to be toxic.

These qualities that make foods toxic include pH over 4.5 (sometimes known as moderate acids), dietary supplements (high in starch or protein), and moisture. In addition, they can multiply and produce a toxin that causes food poisoning.

So, if food is not kept at a constant temperature, these conditions create a favourable habitat for hazardous germs. Toxin production is usually connected with diseases, but it can also occur due to decomposition.

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What are the high-risk foods?

The following foods are high-risk foods.

  • Cooked or raw poultry and meat (duck, chicken, beef, pork, ham, lamb and turkey)
  • Cooked meat products (pate, meat stock and gravy, meat pies and pasties, cook-chilled meals)
  • Uncooked or lightly cooked eggs (mayonnaise, mousse, and homemade ice cream)
  • Items made from milk ( custard, cream, artificial cream, soft and moulded cheeses)
  • Seafood (cooked prawns, raw oysters, mussels, cockles
  • Prepared fruits and vegetables
  • Unpasteurised juices
  • Fresh or cooked pasta
  • Cooked rice
  • Milk, cream
  • Foods containing any of the above.

Here, a food safety diploma course is like a helpful book that links to knowing about High-Risk Foods, different germs, and ways to stay safe. It teaches you how to spot risky foods, handle them safely, and prevent foodborne illnesses.

What are the low-risk foods?

Low-risk foods are those that have a low capacity to maintain bacterial development. They are often dry and do not require refrigeration. The low-risk foods are:

  • Preserved food (salted or smoked fish)
  • Dry food with a minimum amount of moisture (biscuits, flour, bread)
  • Fermented food (salami, pepperoni)
  • High sugar and fatty food ( chocolate, jam)
  • Cereal
  • Spices
  • Uncooked grains

chocolates and various sweet foods in white background

Are salted foods low risk?

Processed foods eliminate and lower microorganisms in nutrition, making them low-risk. Some examples of salted low-risk foods include pickled foods, vinegar, smoked salmon, and beef jerky.

Where should high-risk foods be stored?

Properly storing food is crucial when it comes to high-risk foods. Because any wrong move can lead your food to develop bacteria and viruses, you can keep the high-risk foods using the following ways.

  1. Keep high-risk foods at 5 °C or below or above 60 °C to prevent the temperature danger zone and food illness.
  2. Do not refrigerate scorching hot food. Wait until the steam has reduced before putting the meal in the fridge.
  3. Keep defrosted food refrigerated until you’re ready to prepare it. If you’re defrosting something in the microwave, cook it right away.
  4. As a general rule, avoid refreezing defrosted food. Food that has been frozen a second time is more likely to contain bacteria that cause food illness.
  5. Food items’ use-by dates should be checked and observed.
  6. You should keep raw foods below cooked items.

Basically, not knowing how to store frozen food safely can lead to high risks of spoiled or unsafe food, which can make people sick. To avoid these problems, it’s crucial to learn the correct temperatures and times for storing frozen food.

onion, garlic, berry, and two jars of pickle

How Can I Prevent Risks?

Time and temperature management are essential for reducing the risk of food-borne sickness caused by bacterial infections.

  1. Before, during, and after preparing foods, wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot soapy water. Using a mild bleach and water solution, sanitise surfaces, cutting boards, and utensils. Before eating or cooking, properly wash all produce.
  2. You should keep raw meats and poultry separate from other foods, and remember to put raw meats and vegetables on different cutting boards during storage and preparation. Keep foods covered at all times.
  3. Cook food thoroughly – different meats and poultry require varying cooking times and temperatures. Prepare dishes within two hours and serve quickly to prevent bacteria from growing at room temperature.
  4. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, cooked food, and leftovers within two hours. Maintain a refrigerator temperature of 4°C (40°F) or lower and a freezer temperature of -18°C (0°F) or lower.

In addition, a HACCP Level 2 course can help you learn how to spot risky foods. It shows you what to watch out for and how to keep food safe. This knowledge helps prevent foodborne illnesses.


Staying healthy is relatively easy if you follow some basic rules about your food every day. Keeping a few things in mind while buying, preparing, cooking and serving food can surely make your food more enjoyable.

Your food should give you strength and make you healthy, not the other way round. Follow the simple methods described above about high-risk food, and you will do just fine.

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