The Importance of Good Food Hygiene:
Food hygiene refers to all conditions and measures necessary to ensure that food is safe and wholesome for human consumption.
If good food hygiene practices are not followed, the food may get contaminated and spoilt, and people eating such food may come down with foodborne illnesses.
This may result in:
Foodborne illnesses are caused by the consumption of contaminated food or water which contains substances harmful to the body. Such harmful substances that can cause foodborne illnesses include:
Onset of foodborne illnesses may range from a few hours to days after consuming the contaminated food and can be classified into 2 categories namely, Food Poisoning and Foodborne Diseases.
Germs are very tiny and cannot be seen with the naked eye. Examples include bacteria, viruses, fungi/moulds and protozoa.
Germs can be found:
Some germs produce toxins inside the food while some cause the food to spoil faster.
Chemicals such as insecticides, pest baits, methyl alcohol and heavy metals such as lead may contaminate food and cause foodborne illness.
Poisonous plants and fish/seafood and other naturally-occurring compounds such as certain types of wild mushrooms and thunder crabs can cause foodborne illness.
Humans can become infected with parasites such as tapeworms and Toxoplasma gondii if they consume undercooked meat or untreated water, or by not washing their hands after handling their pets.
Examples of common foodborne illnesses are:
There are certain types of foods which are commonly associated with the above foodborne illnesses. These are referred to as high-risk foods, and extra precautions should be observed when preparing and handling these foods.
Examples of high-risk foods include:
Ready-to-eat foods such as salads and cut fruits are considered high risk foods because they do not undergo further heat treatment such as cooking or microwaving. This means that if the food has been contaminated with bacteria or other causative agents, these bacteria will not be destroyed before the food is being served to the consumer.
To prevent foodborne illness, you must practise good food and personal hygiene. The rest of this handbook will guide you in preparing your food hygienically.
Below is a list of good practices and control measures necessary to keep your food clean and hygienic:
The above are basic requirements that should be observed at all times and at all stages of food preparation, storage and serving. Observing these good practices are necessary to prevent the growth, survival and spread of germs.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before starting work and especially:
Keep fingernails short and clean. Germs can be harboured under fingernails.
Do not wear nail polish or fake fingernails.
Do not wear accessories/jewellery that may drop into the food during preparation. Such articles may also trap food debris that can contaminate food during preparation.
Wear clean aprons and tidy clothes when preparing and handling food.
Keep your hair tied back and in a tidy condition. Cover your hair with a cap or hair net.
If you have sores or cuts on your hand, you must cover them with a brightly-coloured waterproof plaster.
Do not prepare or handle food if you had any of the following in the last 48 hours:
Report your illness to your manager and see a doctor immediately.
Do not do any of the following when handling or preparing food:
Utensils and Equipment Used for Food Preparation:
Store plates, bowls, pots, pans and other kitchen utensils in the following way:
Do not use crockery, utensils and appliances that are chipped, broken or cracked.
Do not reuse disposable crockery, drinking straws or food wrappers/packages.
Use separate towels for different tasks e.g. wiping the utensils/ equipment, wiping tables and wiping your hands. Use colour codes or different designs to distinguish towels for the different tasks. Wash the towels regularly with hot water and detergent.
Use SEPARATE chopping boards, knives, tongs, spoons and other utensils for cooked and uncooked food to avoid cross-contamination.
Meat grinders used for processing mutton, beef, chicken and pork must be labelled, separated and thoroughly washed and sanitised after every use.
Display and Serving of Food:
Keep food properly covered to prevent contamination. Display all food for sale orderly and within the confines of the display showcases.
Do maintain showcases and sneeze guards by cleaning and sanitising daily at the end of the business day.
Do not use bare hands to handle cooked/ready-to-eat food including cut fruits.
Always use tongs, ladles, spoons or wear disposable gloves when handling cooked/ready-to-eat food including cut fruits.
Do not use bare hands to handle and place ice in glasses. Always use a ladle or tong.
Do not touch the inside or the rim of glasses when serving drinks. Use a food tray wherever possible.
Use gloves when handling cooked/ready-to-eat food. Do not use the same gloves for purposes other than handling food.
Change gloves regularly, especially after different tasks, or when they are soiled or torn.
Remove gloves when handling money. Dirt and germs may be found on money and this will contaminate the gloves and any food that is handled afterwards.
During preparation of food, avoid handling coins/money or other articles that may contaminate the food.
Do not mix, sell or resell any cooked or ready-to-eat food, which has:
It is a good practice to provide serving spoons to patrons for shared dishes.
Storage and Packaging of Food:
Storage of cooked/ready-to-eat and raw food at the correct temperature is very important. This helps to prevent germs from multiplying and minimise the risk of food spoilage.
It is advisable to use a thermometer to check that the refrigerator or freezer is operating at the correct temperatures and do monitor the temperatures regularly.
For pre-packed food, follow the storage instruction indicated on the packaging. Refer to the chart below for the correct temperatures for storing fresh produce:
Cut huge pieces of raw meat into smaller pieces before freezing and only take out the required quantity from the freezer for use.
Segregate different types of raw meat and seafood by placing them in separate compartments or containers when storing in the refrigerator or chiller.
Ensure that food sold in the frozen state is not defrosted and re-frozen for sale.
Do not overstock the refrigerator or freezer with foods, especially with foods that are still warm. This will raise your refrigerator’s temperature, and bring the temperature into the Temperature Danger Zone.
Avoid leaving the refrigerator or freezer door open for too long as this will raise the temperature inside the refrigerator and allow the germs to multiply.
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