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Food Safety

As of 2014, Acute Watery Diarrhea ranks top 7 in the top 10 leading causes of morbidity in the Philippines. It is one of the Food and Water-Borne diseases. Other related diseases include Acute Bloody Diarrhea, Acute Viral Hepatitis, Cholera, Rotavirus and Typhoid Fever. These diseases can be prevented through food safety practices and awareness. This October, we are celebrating the Food Safety Awareness Week with the theme “Mula sa iyong malilinis na kamay, ligtas na pagkain sa hapag ang alay!”. It is based on Proclamation 160 signed in 1999 which aims “to create public awareness and educate people on food safety in order to reduce and ultimately eradicate food poisoning and other foodborne illnesses”. By practicing food safety habits such as hand washing, using safe and clean water and proper handling of food - we can prevent food poisoning and food-borne illnesses.

Here are five (5) food safety practices that you should remember when preparing food at home:

1. Always wash your hands with clean soap and water. Hand washing is an important step in preventing the transmission of bacteria and viruses especially when the person just came from the toilet or any contaminated area. Some bacteria such as E. coli from human feces may be transmitted to food through inadequately washed hands and cause vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Aside from hand washing, it is also important to use safe and clean water in washing your hands.

2. Separate raw from cooked food.One of the functions of cooking or heating food is to kill harmful microorganisms which may cause food poisoning such as the Salmonella bacteria from raw chicken and eggs or parasite eggs which may be found in raw vegetables. Thus, use separate utensils, chopping boards or knives when handling raw and cooked food items to prevent cross-contamination.

3. Cook food thoroughly. Cook meat, poultry and fish thoroughly to kill harmful microorganisms which may cause food poisoning. Use a food thermometer to check for the internal temperature of large food items or slice a sample of meat to check whether the middle is well done. Small traces of blood near the bones of chicken also indicate inadequate cooking.

4. Store food at their proper temperature and cool down freshly cooked food within an hour. Cold or chilled food items such as milk, yogurt, fish, meat, and poultry must always be stored in a cold temperature. Freshly cooked foods must be rapidly cooled down within an hour to take them away from the warm “temperature danger zone “where bacterial growth and reproduction is optimal and makes food spoil faster. Use stainless steel serving trays which are good heat conductors or use wide flat food containers to cool food faster.

5. Use clean water and utensils. Water and kitchen utensils may transmit disease causing organisms or chemicals. Thus, use clean or boiled water and use separate kitchen utensils when handling fruits, vegetables and raw fish, meat or poultry and when handling raw vs. cooked food.
These 5 food safety practices are simple steps that you can apply at home to prevent transmission of food-borne illnesses and deliver nourishing food that will maintain the health of your family. Watch out for our next articles on specific types of food borne illnesses and how to prevent them!

/AET

References

• Department of Health (2014). Morbidity Statistics. GOVPH. Retrieved from https://doh.gov.ph/morbidity. Date accessed 26 October 2021.
• Department of Health (2021). PIDSR Weekly Surveillance Report No. 26 2021. GOVPH. Retrieved from https://doh.gov.ph/statistics. Date accessed 26 October 2021.
• Department of Health (2021). Food Safety Awareness Week!. GOVPH. Retrieved from https://djnrmh.doh.gov.ph/index.php/22-priority-featured/165-food-safety-awareness-week. Date accessed 26 October 2021.
• Raymond, J. L., & Morrow, K. (2020). Krause and Mahan’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences.