In the food preparation industry, most are aware of the need for cleanliness when working with food products however why exactly is food cleanliness so important?
The main reason why food must prepared with cleanliness and proper food handling in mind is to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses.
The most important practices involved in safe food handling and preparation are:
Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often. All utensils should be kept clean.
Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate. Don’t use the same utensils for raw and cooked food as this could spread the bacteria.
Cook: Cook to proper temperatures. Uncooked food, particularly meat can be dangerous as the bacterium is not killed unless it is cooked to a high enough temperature for a long enough time.
Chill: Refrigerate food promptly. Don’t leave food out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
Cleanliness is a major factor in preventing foodborne illness. Everything that touches food should be clean. One of the best ways to prevent spreading foodborne illnesses when preparing food is by washing hands and conversely the most common way of spreading illness is by not washing hands. Hands should be washed often, with warn soapy water for at least 20 seconds at a time. This should be done at the following times:
- after handling pets
- after tending to a sick person
- after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- after handling uncooked eggs or raw meat, poultry, or fish and their juices.
- before and after handling food
- after using the bathroom
- after changing a diaper
If you have an infection or cut or injury on your skin, use disposable gloves when preparing food.
Cutting boards can be a source of bacterium where they can multiply due to favourable conditions (They enjoy warmth, water and a food source in the form of food residue). To keep cutting boards clean, wash them in hot, soapy water after each use; then rinse and air or pat dry with clean paper towels. Leaving them wet will encourage bacteria to multiply.
Many people believe non-porous acrylic, plastic, glass, and solid wood boards are best. These should be washed in a dishwasher because it exposes them to extremely high temperatures which hand washing would not achieve. Worn out boards can develop grooves in which dirt and bacteria accumulate which are difficult to get clean so it’s best to replace them.
Never use the same platter and utensils that held the raw product to serve the cooked product. Any bacteria present in the raw meat or juices can contaminate the safely cooked product and cause food poisoning. Serve cooked products on clean plates, using clean utensils and clean hands.
Animals should be kept away from the kitchen. Pets should not be let near food as they have fur and dander which can make its way into the food.
Keep household cleaners, detergents and chemicals away from food. Ensure utensils and cooking equipment is rinsed clean of detergents before using for food.
Because bacteria are everywhere, cleanliness is a major factor in preventing foodborne illness and cleanliness is one of the only weapons we have in combatting their spread.