Samboan, Cebu - To reduce cases of foodborne illness in the country, food safety is of utmost importance. In the Philippines, there are thousands of cases of foodborne illness each year, and many of these cases are related to problems with food safety. The most important aspects of food safety that need to be understood and practiced include controlling time and temperature, storing food, and preventing food contamination. Food handlers need to be aware of these elements and their impact on food safety, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic's changes to food preparation.
Harmful pathogens require a specific time and temperature to grow and cause food-borne illnesses in humans. Pathogens thrive in the Temperature Danger Zone, which ranges from 5°C to 60°C. It is critical to ensure that food does not exceed the stated temperatures, especially for high-risk foods, to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and foodborne illnesses. According to the 2 Hour / 4 Hour rule, high-risk foods must be used or discarded after storing food. A proper and timely manner of storing food is essential for food safety.
Food handlers must store food in a specific order to ensure that high-risk foods are not stored in the Temperature Danger Zone for an extended period. The following is the order: High-risk foods (meat, seafood, poultry, dairy, etc.), Frozen foods, Other refrigerated foods, and Dried goods. How long food is stored depends on the type of food. It is critical that food handlers understand the recommended food storage times to ensure that only safe food is consumed.
The transfer of contaminants from a surface, object, or person to food is referred to as cross-contamination. Unsafe food handling practices by food handlers, which allow dangerous bacteria, viruses, and parasites to contaminate food, are a common cause of cross-contamination. Cross-contamination can occur when these pathogens are consumed. For example, if a food handler handles raw eggs and then prepares a sandwich without washing their hands, pathogens from raw eggs can be transferred to fresh sandwich ingredients, which are then eaten by an unaware consumer. They can cause illness and make a person very sick.
We should always remember to practice these steps at home when preparing meals for our family to prevent foodborne illnesses:
- Washing hands and keeping clean,
- Preventing contamination of food (separate raw and cooked),
- Cooking food at the right temperature thoroughly,
- Keeping heated food hot,
- Keeping cooled food cold,
- Reheating food to the right temperature, and
- Use safe water and raw materials. // ND II, Bea Margaux E. Cornelia, RND