Good food hygiene is an important practice that we need to observe to ensure our food is safed for consumptiom, without this healthy practice, harmful germs that causefoodpoisoning can spread very easily duringfood preparation process, it is therefore our full responsibilty to keep the food that we and our loved ones eat veryclean and safeduring and after preparation on a daily basis.
Food is any edible substance that is consumed to provide support and strength to the body, food helps the body to grow, provides the body with the needed energy to carry out daily activities and it keeps the body in good condition. Food can be said to be hygienic and non-hygienic, safe and un-safe for consumption. Food can be very tasty and flavourful and at the same time can be dangerous to human health if not properly prepared, kept or eaten, however, no human can really survive without eating food and many humans health have been destroyed and risked due to eating unhealthy foods, and this leads us to what is known as food safety and hygiene.
Food safety has a broad meaning, it is not just about eating freshly made food outside your house, but something you should do more often at home and outside. Food safety has a lot to do with eating clean food, handling food, storing food and maintaining personal hygiene on a daily basis and this cut across to food handlers, businesses (food businesses) as both the food handlers and food business dealers have the responsibility of ensuring that foods are kept healthy and void of contamination. However, kitchen hygiene is an important key to keeping food safe for consumption.
Table of Contents
What is food safety or hygiene?
Food hygiene is a practice of proper preparation, washing, cooking, storing and preservation of food in ways that prevent cross contamination and spread of bacteria which could lead to food poisoning. Microorganisms often look for conducive environment to settle and especially on foods, and they can easily contaminate foods as soon as they enter; these can be present in foods in form yeast, moulds and bacteria. Foods like fruits, jams, tomatoes, cabbage, meat, jellies etc. are easily contaminated, however, avoiding cross contamination between raw foods and ready to eat foods is an important aspect of food hygiene. There are certain things to do to ensure a good food hygiene practice.
Food hygiene tips
- Practice personal hygiene
- Refrigerate foods that can be easily destroyed by heat
- Raw foods should be well stored from the cooked ones.
- Wash fruits and vegetables with salt or vinegar.
- Use appropriate kitchen tools for food preparation
- Keep grains, powdered and dried foods away from each other and from liquid
- Cook food to an appropriate temperature to destroy bacteria
- Keep insects and pests away from food areas.
- Use clean water to prepare food always.
- Clean the kitchen counter and mop the flour after each food preparation.
- Keep food that has been contaminated with pathogen from spreading to people and pets.
- Washing of kitchen towels and racks.
How to practice food hygiene at home
- Practice personal hygiene: Personal hygiene is a practice every one should imbibe, as long as food has an effect on our healthy, it is important to always wash our hand with soap and water before handling food to prepare, our plates, spoons and cups need to wash as well before using them to serve food.
- Refrigerates foods that can easily be destroyed by heat: There are certain foods that cant withstand environmental heat for a longer time (meat, fish, leafy vegetables and the likes), such foods need to be properly chilled in the refrigerator to preserve them longer and to keep away harmful organisms growing on them.
- Raw foods should be kept separate from dried or cooked foods: There is no way you can keep cooked foods together with the raw once without reining both, foods like meat, fish and fruits, soup and stew should be 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. After marinating fish or meat, do not use the same bowl or plate to serve food or place another food into it, you can only use the sauce to cook food but not to serve as food because it is raw and it will be unhealthy for your consumption.
- Wash fruit and vegetables with salt or vinegar: Most fruits and vegetable are freshly purchased from the farm, store or market; these foods do contain sand, insect and residues in them, it is very important to rinse vegetables and fruit with water, salt or vinegar before storing them in the food rack.
- Use appropriate kitchen tools for food preparation: There are various kinds of kitchen tools/utensils designed for different purposes, make sure you use the right tool at the right time. For instance, 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, use a different chopping board for cutting vegetables and other sensitive foods to prevent food poisoning and always wash and disinfect cutting tools.
- Keep grains, powdered and dried foods away from liquid: Food safety should be applied on grains, dried and powdered foods storage. Wet food attracts moulds easily, Moulds grow in filaments forming a tough mass and this can be very visible to the eye. Grains, powdered, baked, and dried foods should be properly stored away from liquid, as moulds can easily grow on them causing illness, allergy and food poisoning to both adults and kids.
- Cook food to an appropriate temperature to destroy bacteria: Cooking food to the required temperature is an important food safety practice, as raw foods like egg and meat can easily result to salmonella and ecoli infections if not properly cooked. Foods like pork, chicken, beef and sausage should be cooked longer until there are no traces of pink on the flesh, joints and bones of such meat because germs can easily settle in such parts.
- Keep insects and pests away from food areas: Insects and pests control is another important food safety tip to be taken into consideration, as these creatures are often seen in our houses, especially in places like the fridge corners, kitchen cupboard, shelves and at dark corners of the kitchen. Cockroaches, flies and rodents as we know are very terrible insects and pest; they can carry pathogen from one surface to another, while pegging on food items which can lead to food borne illness, for this reason, it is wise to always cover the pots containing foods, spray the shelves, clean our refrigerator when you notice any foul smell and dripping (see how to clean and maintain refrigerator).
- Use clean water to prepare food always: Food safety is also important practice to be carried out when washing, mixing and cooking food. Dirty water has many ways of affecting our systems and our general health. Foods that are prepared with dirty water can easily lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach upsets, cancer (leukaemia) and skin rashes among other dangerous effects, therefore, it is important to always use clean water to wash and cook food.
- Clean the kitchen counter and mop the flour after each food preparation: Food safety and hygiene can also be put to check by making sure that our kitchen slaps or surfaces are cleaned and disinfected after food preparation- (see how to make homemade disinfectant). By doing this, you have kept away flies, ants and cockroaches from coming in contact with your foods as they love to dance around food particles which are left untidy on such places. The stove or gas top should be properly wiped before you go to bed, it is when everywhere is quit that these insects come out of their hiding places to eat of the remnants, and if you can locate their holes, it is wise you spray with insecticide to eliminate them totally.
- Keep food that has been contaminated with pathogen away from spreading to people and pets: This a very important food safety tip which is related to both humans and pets, once you notice that a particular food item has formed moulds throw it away and dont try to save cost by eating such or feeding it to your pet. If dried foods are not properly kept or have been kept for too long they can form aflatoxin a poisonous and cancer causing chemicals formed in contaminated foods and feeds which can be very dangerous to humans and animals. This food poisoning can also be found in poultry feeds and other livestock feeds especially if the foods are not properly stored.
- Washing of kitchen towels and racks: As long as food hygiene is concerned, the kitchen and every tool or equipment in it needs to be washed and sanitized always. Kitchen towels or racks are very important items in the kitchen; we make use these towels on a daily basis to open hot lids, to remove foods from micro wave or oven, to bring down boiling soup from heat and to wipe of 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 and sanitize and properly sun dry our kitchen towels to prevent bacteria from being spread from one item and surface to another, and these towels should be kept separated from other items like apron and hand cloves
Importance of food safety/ hygiene
- Food hygiene and safety prevent germs from multiplying in foods and reaching dangerous levels.
- Food hygiene ensures daily healthy family living.
- It keeps one healthy and prevents extra cost of buying drugs and medical check-up.
- It minimises the spread of micro-organisms from being spread from surfaces to humans
- It minimises the rate at which one can contact food poisoning.
- Since washing of hands is an important personal hxygiene practice, it helps minimize and prevent the spread of bacteria on foods and on kitchen tools.
- Proper food hygiene and safety keeps insects and rodents out of our entire house as kitchen is seen as one of the breeding grounds for such apart from the toilet.
- Ready to eat foods are advice to be chilled in the fridge; by keeping such food in the fridge, bacteria are not allowed to grow on them. Such foods include salad, yoghurt, milk and deserts.
- Food safety and proper hygiene on business wise is also very necessary especially when dealing with public consumers, by practicing good hygiene, it goes a long way in protecting consumers health and they tend to develop confidence regarding your products and foods. When they have develop confidence in the food you are providing for the them, they keep coming back to you and your business certainly will have a good reputation and longer life span.
The above food hygiene tips cut across the 4 cs in which we really need to put into consideration to prevent food safety hazards, and they should serve as a daily reminder when preparing food, these 4 cs clearly define what food hygiene is- as the practise of proper cleaning, chilling and cooking of food to prevent cross contamination and spread of bacteria both at home and at food factories.
4 Cs of food hygiene
- Cross contamination
1. Foods arecleaned bywashing themwith clean water, salt or vinegar.
2. Ready to eat foods or perishable foods are best kept in the fridgeto enable them last longer and also to prevent bacteria growth.
3. One of the best ways to destroy microorganisms in food is through proper heating, foods like beef, pork, and chicken need to be properly heated or cooked to avoid ecoli and salmonella infection.
4. Different foods are to be kept separately in the fridge to avoid cross contamination and spread of bacteria. Meat, fruits and vegetables should be separated into sealable containers before storing them in the fridge. Vegetables, fruits, milk and soups can easily be contaminated when you combine them together in the same compartment with foods that have liquid in them (fish, meat and the likes); it is best you store them separately to prevent the spread of germs to other foods.
Food hygiene is very important in our daily food preparation, you can help stop the spread of diseases organisms at home and at food factories by following the above basic hygiene tips.
Dr. Brown is the founder of Jotscroll, he is a Medical Doctor, Entrepreneur, and author. Dr. Razi Brown holds a medical degree from the University of San Diego. He has invested in many startups and is currently working on his fifth book to be published in the upcoming year.