What is Food Hygiene?
Food Hygiene can be defined in terms of handling, preparing and storing food in a way that best reduces the risk of consumers becoming sick from the food-borne disease. The principles of food hygiene aim to prevent food from becoming contaminated and causing food poisoning.
It can also be refers to the processes that directly involve food – including storage, preparation, and cooking. Good practices in these areas ensure that customers receive food that’s safe and as described.
- Personal hygiene: This includes hand-washing, protective clothing, illness procedures, and other duties (such as avoiding smoking).
- Preventing cross-contamination: This includes preventing bacterial, physical, chemical, and allergenic contamination, particularly by having appropriate equipment in place (such as separate cutting boards).
- Cleaning procedures: Thorough cleaning of the kitchen, equipment, and kitchenware (including plates and cutlery) is vital.
- Allergen control: All businesses must clearly explain which foods are allergenic and must prevent allergens from cross-contaminating other food.
- Safe storage of food: This includes storage locations and containers, a FIFO system, labelling, and temperature control.
- Cooking temperatures: Businesses must ensure they cook and hold food at appropriate temperatures to prevent bacterial risks.
Important of Food Hygiene:
Food hygiene is important as they ensure that the food you handle and produce is safe for consumption. If it is not maintained, consumers could become seriously ill with food poisoning and foodborne illnesses. Therefore, food hygiene is of the utmost importance to protect the health of consumers.
Here are some reasons:
- People get sick from the food or drink they consume. Bacteria, viruses and parasites found in food can cause food poisoning.
- There is no immediate way of telling if food is contaminated because you cannot see, taste or smell anything different from the norm.
- Food poisoning can lead to gastroenteritis and dehydration or potentially even more serious health problems such as kidney failure and death.
- This risk is especially significant for those in the high-risk category: Small children/ babies, pregnant moms, the elderly and immunocompromised, especially HIV infections and cancer patients.
- Food hygiene and safety prevent germs from multiplying in foods and reaching dangerous levels.
- It helps ensures daily healthy family living.
- It keeps consumers healthy and preventing additional cost of buying medication and medical check-ups.
- Hand washing accounts for 33% of all related food poisoning cases. It is therefore important to maintain good personal hygiene practice. This is something we are taught early in our childhood, yet hand washing is still a critical problem in the kitchen
Key steps to preventing food-borne illnesses?
The key steps are:
- Clean – keep yourself and work areas clean
- Separate – keep raw meat and other raw animal products away from other foods
- Cook – always properly cook and prepare foods
- Chill – store foods appropriately both before and after cooking
Read Also: Environmental hygiene; All you should know
Personal Hygiene practice for Food Handlers
Ensure the individuals handling food have a high standard of personal hygiene. This includes:
- Tying hair back to ensure no hairs fall into the food.
- Thoroughly wash hands with soap and hot water, before, during and after handling food, to ensure no germs from your hands are transferred to the food.
- Wear clean clothes to work, to ensure no germs from your clothes transfer to the food.
- Wear gloves if you are handling food with bare hands.
Difference Between Food Safety and Hygiene
The term ‘food safety’ encompasses all the important practices that businesses must follow to ensure food is fit for consumption. ‘Food hygiene’ is one of these important practices, which means it’s a subcategory of ‘food safety’.
Because food hygiene falls under the umbrella term ‘food safety’, food hygiene itself does not include all the other key areas of food safety. This is an important difference to be aware of, particularly when applying food management procedures to your premises. Food safety refers to an entire system of managing risks. Meanwhile, food hygiene refers to an individual set of practices for controlling only one aspect.