What is Food Hygiene?
Food Hygiene is more than cleanliness; it includes all practices involved in:
- Protecting food from risk of contamination, including harmful bacteria, poisons and foreign bodies;
- Preventing any bacteria present multiplying to an extend which would result in the illness of consumers.
- Destroying and harmful bacteria in the food by thorough cooking or processing;
- Discarding unfit or contaminated food.
The most succulent mouthwatering dish into which has gone all the skill and art of the world’s best chefs, using the finest possible ingredients, may look, taste and smell superb, yet be unsafe, even dangerous to eat because of harmful bacteria.
It is of the utmost importance that everyone, who handles food or who works in a place where food is handled, should know that food must be both clean and safe.
Thousands of people every year suffer from food poisoning resulting in several million-man hours of work lost. It is therefore, the duty of all those employed in the industry to do their utmost to prevent this loss from happening.
Failure to prevent it may be due to:
- Ignorance of rules of hygiene
- Carelessness, thoughtlessness or neglect
- Poor standards of equipment or facilities to maintain hygiene standards
Remember that maintaining good hygiene practices in all work activities will be reflected in the overall hygiene standards of the establishment.
Everybody within the food business is responsible for upholding basic food hygiene standards. In particular staffs are responsible for:
- a) Keeping food free from contamination during its storage, preparation, cooking and service and
- b) Maintaining premises and equipment in a clean condition
Poor hygiene is costly, for the business, the staff and the customer.
Bacteria (germs) are too small to be seen with the naked eye and are everywhere around us, in: (man, soil, air, water, animals, dust, vegetables)
Some bacteria are harmful and in large numbers can cause food poisoning in the food hygiene and food safety procedures.
TEN MAIN REASONS FOR FOOD POISIONING
One: Food prepared too far in advance and stored at room temperature, i.e. not under refrigeration
Two: Cooling food too slowly prior to refrigeration
Three: Not reheating food to high enough temperatures to destroy food poisoning bacteria
Four: The use of cooked foods contaminated with food poisoning bacteria
Six: Not thawing frozen poultry for sufficient time
Seven: Cross – contamination from raw to cooked food
Eight: Storing hot food at too low a temperature
Nine: Contamination from infected food handlers
Ten: Re-use and reheating of leftover food items
Remember: Bacteria Need:
WARMTH: FOOD AND MOISTURE: TIME
Remember: keep high-risk foods out of the “DANGER ZONE”
Types of Food poisoning Bacteria
The commonest food poisoning bacteria are:
- The Salmonella group (cause food poisoning because of large numbers of bacteria in the food)
- Staphylococcus aureus (cause food poisoning due to poison (toxin) production in the food)
- Clostridium perfringens (causes food poisoning due to large numbers of bacteria producing toxins in the intestines)
WHAT ARE THE HIGH RISK FOODS?
All cooked meat and poultry: Cooked meat products and gravies/sauces milk, cream, custards, dairy produce: cooked rice. Cooked eggs, egg products, i.e. mayonnaise: Shellfish and other seafood.
WHAT CAUSES FOOD POISONING?
Bacteria: Viruses: Chemicals: Metals: Poisonous plants
HOW DOES FOOD BECOME CONTAMINATED?
- The people commonly harbor germs and directly contaminate food with their hands, sneezing, coughing or through sewage contaminating water.
- Raw food is particularly dangerous, red meat and poultry are heavily infected, milk, eggs and shellfish also. Liquid from defrosted poultry must not be allowed to contaminate wiping cloths, high-risk foods or equipment.
- Soil on raw vegetables must also be removed.
- Insect and dust carry bacteria into food and cockroaches carry bacteria.
- Dead flies can fall into food and cockroaches carry bacteria.
- Rodents and animals carry bacteria around can contaminate food and food surfaces.
- Refuse and waste attracts flies and must not be allowed to contaminate food or food surfaces.
Sometimes harmful bacteria pass directly from the source to high-risk food. You must be aware of the risks of transferring harmful bacteria by hands, cloths, food surfaces and hand contact surfaces (door handles, toilet handle, etc.) to maintain food hygiene and food safety procedures.
TO PROTECT FOOD FROM CONTAMINATION do:
- Keep food covered whenever possible.
- Only handle food using tongs, plates and trays
- Separate raw from high risk foods at all times
- Separate equipment for use with raw and high risk foods at all times.
- Prevent insects, animals and birds entering food rooms or touching food
- Store food in tightly lidded rodent proof containers
- Maintain the highest standards of personal hygiene at all times
- Wear suitable protective clothing provided for food handlers
- Remove unfit or waste food promptly and keep apart from high-risk food
- Keep food and equipment off the floor
- Ensure that liquid from thawed frozen meat /poultry does not come into contact with high-risk food or food surfaces
- Use the correct cleaning and disinfection procedures.
TO PROTECT FOOD FROM CONTAMINATION DON’T:
- Use unsuitable, defective or dirty equipment
- Use dirty wiping cloths
- Handle parts of crockery or cutlery that come into contact with food
- Use wash-hand basins for washing food or food equipment.
All food will contain some bacteria, though it is important that apart from preventing further contamination from harmful food poisoning bacteria to maintain food hygiene and food safety procedures, action is taken to prevent bacteria in food from multiplying.
- Store food out of the “danger zone”, i.e. +5°C to 63°C
- Keep foods in the refrigerator or in a heated oven/Bain Marie or not at all.
- During preparation keep high risk foods out of the “danger zone”.
- Use preservatives such as sugar or salt.
- Keep dried foods free from moisture.
- No food must be kept at temperatures which would result in a risk to health.
Rules for Safe Handling of Food
|Rules||Outcome if Rule Disobeyed|
|Always wash your hands before handling food.||May cause cross contamination and food poisoning.|
|Use separate chopping boards when preparing foods that could get cross contaminated||May cause cross contamination and food poisoning.|
|Store food at the correct temperature.||Food could ‘go off’ and not be suitable for human consumption.|
|Check the sell by date on any food you are using.||Food could ‘go off’ and this could cause food poisoning.|
|Store raw meat away from the cooked meat on the bottom shelf of the fridge.||Juices may drip and cause cross contamination.|
|Throw out old and out of date equipment.||May contain hidden bacteria to contaminate food and cause food poisoning.|
|Wash tea towels and dish cloths regularly.||May transfer bacteria onto clean appliances.|
|Wash your hands after touching high risk foods such as eggs and meat.||You could cross contaminate food and cause food poisoning.|