“Essential Food Hygiene Tips for Safe Cooking”

Food hygiene

The Food Safety Pillars

Using the food safety pillars is an essential way to prevent food poisoning. 

1. Cleaning & Sanitising
2. Personal Hygiene

 Hand washing and clean hands awareness are critical to food safety to eliminate cross contamination.

3. Food Storage
  • Perishable foods (Cold storage)
  • Dry goods 
4. Temperature Control

For preventing the growth of bacteria and ensuring the quality of food is maintained. Cold storage refrigerators should receive preventive checks to ensure that the temperature is maintained.

5. Food Handling

Its related to how food is handled during storage and preparation. Food Handling carries the greatest risk when dealing with cross-contamination. 

Measures to practice food hygiene

1. Good Personal Hygiene

The food handlers should be clean, wear clean uniform, gloves, caps, and masks (if required). a personal hygiene checklist for each staff should be monitored periodically.

2. Hand Hygiene practices

It is important to always wash  hands with soap and water before handling food to prepare. Wash hands before entering the kitchen, after using the toilet, coughing/ sneezing and before wearing gloves, and in between as needed. Change gloves as soon as they become dirty or torn.

3. Clean Utensils and Cooking Equipment

All cooking equipment should be properly cleaned before starting any preparation. This is specifically important for equipment that comes into direct contact with food, such as cutting boards, knives, countertops, mixers, blenders etc. These areas are known to harbour dangerous bacteria that when they get into foods that cause serious illness. A meat chopping board can easily serve as a growth medium for bacteria and mould, this can be seen growing on the surface or the edges if not properly washed after usage. Always wash the chopping board with detergent and running water. All utensils and crockery before and after service should be free from dirt or stink for the same reasons.

4. Use Appropriate Kitchen Tools for Food Preparation 

There are various kinds of kitchen tools/utensils designed for different purposes. The right tool to be used at the right time. For instance, use different coloured chopping board for raw and ready-to-eat/cooked food to prevent cross contamination. Replace tools when they are worn out.

5. Wash Fruits and Vegetables Before Use

Most fruits and vegetable are freshly purchased from the farm, store or market; these foods contain soil, insects and chemical residues in them, it is very important to rinse vegetables and fruit with water, salt or vinegar before storing them in the food rack. Rinse all vegetables and fruits under running water thoroughly before processing. Cut away any bruised or damaged areas of fruit and vegetables, and if rotten discard it.

6. Always Use Clean Water to Prepare Food 

Foods that are prepared with unsafe water can easily lead to vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach upsets, it is important to always use clean water to wash and cook food.

7.Cook Food to an Appropriate Temperature  

Cooking food to the required temperature (hot above 60°C) is an important food safety practice, as raw foods like egg and meat can easily result in Salmonella and E.coli infections if not properly cooked. Foods such as chicken, and meats should be cooked longer until there are no traces of pink on the flesh and joints and bones of such meats because bacteria can easily survive the cooking process in these areas.

8. Clean the Kitchen and Mop the Floor After Each Food Preparation: 

Greasy areas help bacteria hide. The stove or gas top should be properly wiped. Keeping the kitchen clean can help keep flies, ants and cockroaches from coming in contact with foods. All areas within the kitchen should be clean at all the time. The housekeeping materials like broom, mops, cleaning agents, etc. must be stored in separate location away from food.

9. Keep Kitchen Towels, Sponges and cloths Clean 

Kitchen towels or sponges are used on a daily basis to open hot lids, bring down boiling soup from heat and wipe off food or water from our wet hands. Often times while using these towels, they get wet in the process which means that microorganisms can harbour on these damp surfaces, so it will be very proper to wash/ replace regularly.

10. Separate Raw and Ready to Eat Foods

By its very nature, raw foods have bacteria present in them. This is why we need to cook most of our foods. Foods such as meat, fish and fruits should be refrigerated/frozen in different sealed containers and they should be kept in a different compartment of the fridge to avoid cross-contamination which can occur through dripping.

11. Keep Dry Foods Separate From Liquids

Grains, powdered, baked, and canned or dry foods should be properly stored away from liquid, as  wet food attracts moulds easily causing illness, allergy and food poisoning to both adults and kids.

12. Foods That Need to be Kept Cold in the Fridge:

Dairy products and other cold food need to be kept below 4°C and frozen products at -18°C in order to prevent bacteria from growing. Keeping foods cold also ensures that food does not expire before the use-by dates. 

13. Keep Insects and Pests Away From Food Areas

Pests are often seen, especially in places like the fridge corners, kitchen cupboard, shelves and at dark corners of the kitchen. Cockroaches, flies and rodents can carry pathogens from one surface to another, which can lead to food-borne illness, for this reason, it is wise to always cover the pots containing foods, spray the shelves, clean refrigerator when any foul smell and dripping is noticed. Things like nets on windows, fly catchers, separate and covered dustbins for food waste, and disposal of empty cartons should be installed to prevent entry of insects and rodents inside kitchen. Regular pest control measures should be undertaken.

14. Kitchen infrastructure

The walls and ceilings should not have problem of seepages or fungus. Good drainage system should be ensured.

15. Clean hand washing station

The hand washing area should be provided with clean tap water, liquid soap, disposable paper towels and foot-operated covered dustbin.

16. Health check-ups of food handling staff

Any staff who handle food (cooking, serving, cleaning, etc.) must be medically screened to check for presence of any contagious disease. Screening of parasites and Salmonella Typhi should be done every 6 months and whenever a staff re-joins after taking 15 days or more leave. For other tests annual check ups can be done. Record of health check-up with findings should be maintained for each staff. Staff in which any contagious or infectious disease is found should not be allowed to handle food, till the time the infection subsides.

17. Staff awareness

Each staff working in food department must be aware about personal hygiene, hand hygiene, safe handling of LPG, emergency codes etc. 

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