How are guidelines followed ?
During the last few months we have come to realize the importance of food safety whether it be in our own homes or at restaurants and cafes. As restaurants begin to slowly open with Covid 19 restrictions being lifted we need to remember that even though Covid 19 has not been tied to food important safety measures are in place.
All places that serve the public have always had to follow strict guidelines to adhere to the best food safety practices. Inspections every 6 months is common practice for restaurants and cafes.
The health inspectors check cooking, holding and storage temperatures of all meat,poultry,seafood and ready made food products to assure they are at a safe temperature. All restaurants have a check list that they follow to assure a passing inspection.
5 Key Safety Rules
The World Health Organization has Five keys to Safer Food that were created in 2001. The keys have been widely adopted by more than 100 countries.
Key 1: Keep clean
- Wash your hands before handling food and often during food preparation
- Wash your hands after going to the toilet
- Wash and sanitize all surfaces and equipment used for food preparation
- Protect kitchen areas and food from insects, pests and other animals
WHY: While most microorganisms do not cause disease, dangerous microorganisms are widely found in soil, water, animals and people. These microorganisms are carried on hands, wiping cloths and utensils, especially cutting boards and the slightest contact can transfer them to food and cause foodborne diseases.
Key 2: Separate raw and cooked
- Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods
- Use separate equipment and utensils such as knives and cutting boards for handling raw foods
- Store food in containers to avoid contact between raw and prepared foods
WHY: Raw food, especially meat, poultry and seafood, and their juices, can contain dangerous microorganisms which may be transferred onto other foods during food preparation and storage.
Key 3: Cook thoroughly
- Cook food thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, eggs and seafood
- Bring foods like soups and stews to boiling to make sure that they have reached 70°C. For meat and poultry, make sure that juices are clear, not pink. Ideally, use a thermometer
- Reheat cooked food thoroughly
WHY: Proper cooking kills almost all dangerous microorganisms. Studies have shown that cooking food to a temperature of 70°C can help ensure it is safe for consumption. Foods that require special attention include minced meats, rolled roasts, large joints of meat and whole poultry.
Key 4: Keep food at safe temperatures
- Do not leave cooked food at room temperature for more than 2 hours
- Refrigerate promptly all cooked and perishable food (preferably below 5°C)
- Keep cooked food piping hot (more than 60°C) prior to serving
- Do not store food too long even in the refrigerator
- Do not thaw frozen food at room temperature
WHY: Microorganisms can multiply very quickly if food is stored at room temperature. By holding at temperatures below 5°C or above 60°C, the growth of microorganisms is slowed down or stopped. Some dangerous microorganisms still grow below 5°C.
Key 5: Use safe water and raw materials
- Use safe water or treat it to make it safe
- Select fresh and wholesome foods
- Choose foods processed for safety, such as pasteurized milk
- Wash fruits and vegetables, especially if eaten raw
- Do not use food beyond its expiry date
WHY: Raw materials, including water and ice, may be contaminated with dangerous microorganisms and chemicals. Toxic chemicals may be formed in damaged and mouldy foods. Care in selection of raw materials and simple measures such as washing and peeling may reduce the risk.
How can I keep my own kitchen safe?
During this health crisis we have all been reminded the steps to take to reduce illness. We can all follow the same guidelines in our own kitchens just like the restaurants are encouraged to do. Hand washing often and cleaning and sanitizing kitchen surfaces and storing/ cooking foods to recommended temperatures.
Experts in food safety have noted that people should receive theirs formation from trusted experts . Here are a few links you can turn to for valuable information. This one is from NC State and is a great chart showing the important tips! Your local extension office can be contacted and has some valuable information available as well.
Back to the Basics
So as you can see lots of good information is available but the basics of hand washing is still at the top of the list of smart things to do.
Just a note to thank my daughter, who is a food safety expert for always sharing valuable Information! You are never to old to learn.
The World Health Organization has a vast amount of information on their website regarding food safety including many fact sheets.