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What are the key ways I can ensure my food is safe?
By Dr Mahsa Majzoobi
To make sure your food is safe, you must consider five basic food safety rules including cleaning and personal hygiene; using clean and safe water and ingredients; separating raw and cooked materials; cooking thoroughly; keeping processed foods under safe temperature and storage condition.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) if you follow five basic food safety rules you can ensure your food is safe.
1. Cleaning and personal hygiene
Washing, cleaning and sanitising all raw ingredients, utensils and surfaces are necessary. Make sure that there are no harmful chemicals in the vicinity of the kitchen area. Personal hygiene is of great importance. This includes being healthy (no open cuts on hands and face, no contagious diseases), performing correct hand washing, wearing clean and hygienic cloths (e.g. apron, hair net, face mask, gloves and shoes).
2. Using clean and safe water and ingredients
All ingredients including water must be clean and safe. Water must be boiled if unsure of its safety. Check the food packaging and ensure that all ingredients have been stored at a suitable condition and have not been expired. Also, make sure that the consumers are aware of any possible food allergens in the food contains milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soybean and lupin.
3. Separating raw and cooked materials
It is important to separate cooked and raw materials during food preparation to avoid cross contamination. This includes separation of surfaces (e.g. cutting boards, trays) and utensils (knifes, spoons) used for preparation of cooked and raw materials.
4. Cooking thoroughly
High temperature during cooking can kill most of the pathogens (harmful microbes) and hence boiling foods is recommended. Make sure the food is cooked thoroughly and no pick or juice is left specially in in meat, sea foods and poultries. According to WHO, minced meat, large joints of meat and large piece of poultry need special attention during cooking. It is highly recommended to use a thermometer in the centre of these foods to ensure they remain at least 70 °C during cooking.
5. Keeping at safe temperature and storage condition
Cooking cannot kill all microbes and hence the remaining microbes will grow back quickly specially if food is kept at temperatures between 5-60 °C which is known as danger zone. By avoiding danger zone (e.g. keeping foods at above 60 °C or below 5 °C) the food will be safe. Also make sure to avoid cross-contamination (e.g. touching foods with dirty hands and utensils).