SCOTTISH students are being advised to be extra vigilant with their kitchen hygiene this year, as they return to campuses for the new term or start courses for the first time at the country’s 19 universities and 29 colleges.

During freshers’ week’ particularly, some students traditionally push the boundaries when it comes to healthy eating as they enthusiastically grasp their new sense of freedom.

But according to Food Standards Scotland’s (FSS) senior scientific adviser Dr Emma Agnew, this year more than ever students must stay focused on maintaining their physical and mental health as well as enjoying themselves in a safe way, as Covid-19 is still in circulation and remains a health risk.

FSS has put together a student checklist for safe and healthy eating. The list highlights keeping the kitchen clean to help food preparation remain hygienic; planning meals and checking use-by dates; using leftovers safely to avoid food waste; following simple rules to avoid food poisoning; and the most efficient and hygienic ways to store food, and then dispose of it.

Agnew said: “FSS research has shown 16-34-year-olds including students are the most likely to turn a blind eye to food safety. We’ve found 84%, for instance, are happy to take on risky cooking practices, 45% perform risky reheating behaviour, and 61% admit to food handling practices which could present a risk of spreading bugs around the kitchen, with 70% suggesting that they did not clean up properly while cooking. Sixty-nine per cent also reported they pay little attention to food labels.

“The tips in our checklist are a handy reminder for students of the importance of following good food hygiene practices in the kitchen and when cooking.”

On cleanliness, the FSS says keeping the kitchen clean will help food preparation to be hygienic and make cooking a bit easier. FSS adds cleaning kitchen surfaces, dishes and utensils as you use them will prevent harmful bacteria from building up and spreading onto food. Effective hand washing and regularly washing cloths and tea towels are also important, the organisation said.