What does food safety mean to you – is it the same as healthy eating or is it much more than that? Food safety goes beyond healthy eating it requires you to monitor what you eat.
For food to be healthy, it must also be safe to eat. Food safety must be examined at every point during food preparation and storage, from harvesting to transportation to processing to storage and finally to consumers. Food safety aims to prevent contamination of food and reduce the risk of foodborne diseases.
Globally, one in ten people get sick every year from eating contaminated food. Unsafe food has adverse effects on health and well-being as well as negative economic consequences for families and businesses. In addition, foodborne illnesses are more prevalent among vulnerable groups (the elderly, children under the age of five, and poorer populations).
“Food Standards Save Lives” has been announced by FAO as this year’s theme for World Food Safety Day which is celebrated on 7th of every year.th june.
Dr. Meghna Passi, Nutrition Consultant, Mythali Program, Arogya World, shares the causes of food spoilage. It can be caused by a number of factors:
- buying poor quality food
- not checking food labels
- not refrigerating or freezing foods as needed
- refrigerator/freezer not working properly
- chemical reactions – rancidity in fats, hydrogen swell
- Grain can be spoiled and contaminated by the action of insects
- Microbiological action like mold on bread or souring of milk
- presence of contaminants in the grain such as stones, grit
- Natural enzymatic changes eg. over ripening of fruits and vegetables
- Most important is not to maintain poor handling of food, cooking area, storage area and personal hygiene.
Dr Passey discusses some important tips to keep your food safe at home:
- Keep a clean and hygienic kitchen – use clean utensils and disinfect surfaces like kitchen slabs and cleaning materials like scrubs and sinks.
- Maintain good personal hygiene:
- Wash hands with soap and water before cooking and when handling food because microbes are easily transferred from hands to food during food preparation and eating.
- Wear clean clothes. Use an apron while cooking. Keep nails cut. Cover the cut with bandages. Keep your hair tied.
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before cooking and eating.
- Keep food at safe temperatures: Food poisoning-causing bacteria grow fastest in the “danger zone” – between 5°C and 60°C. So keep food below 5°C and above 60°C. Cool food quickly and properly.
- Always read the conditions of use and storage of packaged food.
- Keep raw and cooked food separately. Raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs can spread disease-causing bacteria to ready-to-eat foods. Cutting boards or utensils used for raw meat should not be reused for ready-to-eat foods such as fruits and vegetables without being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. Another way to avoid cross-contamination is to use separate knives and chopping boards for vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods.
- Avoid buying meat that is discolored and doesn’t smell fresh. Do not buy from unhealthy places.
- Always buy firm fish and check that the eyes are clean, plump, moist and shiny.
- While buying eggs, check that the shell is not cracked. They can contain a lot of bad bacteria.
- Always check the labeling (ingredients, use by date) of processed and canned meat and poultry products.