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					                        HOW TO ENSURE FOOD SAFETY

        Business Recorder: 08-02-05
                                                                  By:     M SHABAN UPPAL

        More people than ever before are buying ready-to-eat food, fast food, and dining out in
        cafes and restaurants. This change has given people new choices in the food they eat-but
        it has also created new problems. One of these is the risk of bacterial food poisoning
        .Here are some of the tips which will ensure food safety at home and in business

        Why does food poisoning happen?

        Food poisoning bacteria are often present naturally in food, but in numbers so small
        bacteria can multiply frighteningly quickly. In the right conditions, a single bacterium can
        multiply into more than two million bacteria in just seven hours. For example, if the at 12
        noon the number of bacteria was 1 it would be 2,097,152 at 7.00pm. So it is very
        important not to give bacteria the conditions under which they multiply rapidly. Bacteria
        grow best when the temperature is between 5c and 60c. This is called the Temperature
        Danger Zone (TDZ)

        Bacteria grow and multiply on some types of food more easily than on others. The types
        of foods which bacteria prefer include: meat poultry, dairy products, eggs, small goods,
        seafood, cooked rice, cooked pasta, prepared salads, prepared fruit salads, , pasta, salads.
        These are known as High Risk Food (HRF) . If a high-risk food is contaminated with
        food poisoning bacteria and then left in the temperature danger zone, it can cause food
        poisoning. Bacteria need moisture to grow, if there is no moisture present, the growth of
        bacteria may slow down or stop. Drying is an effective way to preserve food.

                        Some common food poisoning bacteria

Bacteria type       Where is it        What are the When do the                       Remarks
                    commonly           symptoms?         symptoms
                    found?                               occur?
Salmonella          Meat,    poulty,   Nausea, stomach Six hours to
                    eggs and egg       cramps, diarrhea, three days after
                    products           fever        and eating
                                       headache          contaminated
                                                         food. Symptoms
                                                         can last three to
                                                         five days
Bacillus cereus     Cereals,     rice, Nausea vomiting One to six hours          These    bacteria
                    meat products, diarrhea         and after eating the         produce spores,
                    packet soups       stomach cramps    contaminated            which are not
                                                         food symptoms           killed    during
                                                         usually last no         cooking. When
                                                         longer than 24          cooked      food
                                                         hours                   containing these
                                                                                 spores is left in
                                                                                 the temperature
                                                                                 danger zone, the
                                                                                 spores produce
                                                                                 toxins (poisons),
                                                                                 which can cause

                                                                                 food poisoning.
Staphylococcus     Meat and poultry      Acute vomiting,    Thirty minutes to    These      bacteria
aureus             dishes,         egg   nausea,            eight hours after    produce toxins in
                   products,             occasionally       eating         the   food. The toxin
                   mayonnaise-           diarrhea     and   contaminated         is not destroyed
                   based       salads,   cramps             food, symptoms       during
                   cream or custard                         usually last about
                   filled desserts                          24 hours             correct storage of
                                                                                 food before and
                                                                                 after cooking is
Campylobacter      Raw meat, raw         Diarrhea, fever,   Two to five          The bacteria is
                   poultry raw-un-       abdominal pain,    hours       after    killed when food
                   pasteurised milk.     nausea,            ingestion.           is kully cooked
                   Household pets        headache, muscle   Symptoms may         and      correctly
                   and flies may be      pain.              last 7-10 days.      handled by food
                   carriers of the                          25% of cases         handlers.
                   bacteria                                 may experience a

   To avoid food poisoning, following precautions can be taken:

      Make sure your hands are clean before handling food
      Thoroughly wash and sanities all equipment used to prepare raw food including benches
       and chopping boards.
      Store raw food below cooked food in the refrigerator,
      Store food correctly: in particular, do not keep food in the temperature danger zone,(5c-
      Keep hot food hot (above 65c) and cold food cold (below 5c);
      Make sure food is served as soon as possible after preparing;
      Thoroughly wash fruit and vegetables, including garnished before using them.

   How does food become contaminated?

   Food handling and storage and lack of personal hygiene by the people who prepare and serve
   the food could be main causes of contamination. Food poisoning bacteria are everywhere in
   the soil, on animals, on people and on the things people touch and use. It is possible for foods
   such as meat or vegetables to contain food poisoning bacteria from the start. Even if food is
   free of bacteria, it can be contaminated by what is called cross-contamination. This can
   happen during food preparation and during storage. Hand and equipment such as knives and
   cutting boards can be contaminated with bacteria from raw food. If the same hands or tools
   are then used to prepare ready-to-eat or cooked food, without first being properly washed,
   then this food can become contaminated with bacterial if this food is not cooked again before
   being eaten, the bacteria will not be killed.

   Bacteria from raw food can contaminate ready-to-eat cooked food if they are stores together,
   so store them separately. If the two types of food are stored in the same refrigerator, the raw
   food should always be stored lower down than ready- to-eat or cooked food. This means the
   raw food cannot drip onto the cooked food.

   Following are the fundamentals to food safety be it a business concern or our own

   When shopping:

   Buy your chilled and frozen foods towards the end of your shopping trip;
   Hot chickens and other hot foods should also be purchased later in your trip and kept
    separate from cold food.

When storing and transporting food:

       Keep chilled food at 5c or colder;
       Use a fridge thermometer to check the temperature in your fridge. The temperature
        should be below 5c;
       Keep the freezer temperature around –15c to –18c;
       Keep hot foods at 65c or hotter;
       Throw out high-risk food left in the temperature danger zone for more than 4 hours;
       Consume high risk food left in the temperature danger zone for more than 2 hours-
        don’t keep it for later;

    Choose carefully when buying food:

           Only buy from reputable suppliers with clean and tidy premises;
           Check use by dates and labels, avoid food past its use by dates;
           Check food labels for allergen and nutritional information;
           Avoid products in damaged, dented, swollen or leaking cans, containers or other
           Avoid food that seems spoiled, such as mouldy or discoloured products;
           Check that serving staff use separate tongs when handling separate food types;
           Avoid cracked or soiled eggs.
           Avoid high-risk chilled and frozen foods that have been left out of the fridge and
           Avoid hot foods that are not steaming hot;
           Avoid ready-to-eat foods left uncovered on counters;
           Prevent meat, chicken or fish juices leaking onto other products;

        Get food home quickly:

        If you have purchased hot, chilled or frozen foods, you should get them home as
        quickly as possible. For trips longer than about 30 minutes, or on very hot days, it’s
        a good idea to take an insulated cooler or bag with an ice pack, to keep chilled or
        frozen foods cold. Consider placing hot foods in an insulated container for trips
        longer than about 30 minutes. Hot food should be wrapped in foil, if possible, once
        you arrive home, immediately transfer chilled and frozen food into your fridge and

        Store food well:

        Keep food out of harm’s way by:

               Keeping high- risk chilled food in the fridge;
               Keeping frozen foods frozen hard;
               Storing foods in clean, non-toxic, food storage containers;
               Covering food in leak proof containers with tight fitting lids or wrap in foil
                or plastic firm;
               Storing cooked foods separately from raw foods;
               Storing raw meats, seafood and chicken at the bottom of the fridge, in sealed
                or covered containers;

       Storing left overs in the fridge. Packaged food and food from cans and jars
        can become high risk once opened;
       Not storing food in opened cans;
       Avoiding egg, diary and meat products past their use by dates.

Wash hands when preparing food:

   Wash hands with warm soapy water before preparing food for at least 30
   Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food and after handling raw
    meatrs, chicken, seafood, eggs and unwashed vegetables;
   Dry your hands with clean towels or disposable towels;
   If you have any cuts or wound on your hands, cover them with water proof strips
    or bandages;
   Wear clean, protective clothes like an apron when preparing food;
   If you feel unwell, let someone else prepare the food.

Keep things clean and separate:

   Prevent quality food from turning nasty by keep things clean and separate;
   Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods;
   Use separate and clean utensils and equipment for ready-to-eat food;
   Don’t use the same equipment and utensils for raw foods and for ready-to-eat
    foods, without thoroughly cleaning them first;
   Thoroughly clean and dry cutting- borads, knives, pans, plates, containers and
    other utensils after using them;
   Use hot soapy water to wash things and ensure they are thoroughly dry before
    using them again;
   Use fresh clean tea-towels or disposable towels to dry utensils and equipment,
    otherwise allow them to air dry;
   Use a dishwasher with appropriate detergents to wash and dry utensils and
   Rinse raw fruits and vegetables with clean water before using them;
   Avoid pets around areas where food is prepared or stores;
   Remove pests and vermin from where food is prepared or stored.