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Food Safety and Food Poisoning
What is food poisoning? It is a serious illness, which usually occurs suddenly, which is produced by eating contaminated or poisonous food. Symptoms of food poisoning include:
1. nausea – feeling queasy as if you are about to get sick
2. sickness – vomiting
3. Pains in the stomach – drinking pains in the stomach area
The main causes of food poisoning are:
1. Bacteria – the commonest
2. Viruses – which are smaller than bacteria, are normally found in water
3. Chemicals – Insecticides and herbicides
4. Metals – lead pipes, brass pans
5. Poisonous plants – toadstools, red kidney beans (uncooked)
Bacteria are the most common form of food poisoning and therefore it is important to know more about them. Bacteria are small insects that live in the air, in water, in soil, on and in people, in and on food. Some bacteria cause illness. They are called PATHOGENIC bacteria. Some bacteria cause food spoilage and spoilage, they are called SPOILAGE bacteria. There are four things bacteria need to grow. These are:
Summer. They like a body temperature of 73 degrees but can happily grow at 15 degrees. They grow best between 5c and 63c. This is known as the RISK AMOUNT
Clock. Individual bacteria grow by dividing in half. This takes time, on average every 20 minutes. This is known as BINARY FISSION. Imagine, a single bacterium dividing in half every ten minutes can become more than a million in three and a half hours.
Food. They like high protein foods for example, chicken, cooked meat, dairy products, shellfish, cooked rice, stews and gravies.
Moisture. They need water and most foods have enough water or moisture to allow bacteria to thrive.
Some bacteria can form a hard protective case around themselves, this is called a SPORE. This happens when ‘the going gets tough’, when it’s too hot or too dry. So they are able to survive very hot or cold temperatures and can even be found in dry foods. Once the right conditions (5 – 63c) return, the spore will emerge from its protective container and grow, becoming food poisoning bacteria again.
Germs and food poisoning
It has been established that the presence of bacteria is one of the most common causes of food poisoning – the presence of toxic chemicals can also cause food poisoning. The number of toxic chemicals in food. For example, potatoes that have been turned green contain the toxic substance Solanine, which is only dangerous when eaten in excess.
Rhubarb contains Oxalic Acid – the amounts in the fruit that are normally eaten are harmless to humans, but the high concentration in the leaves makes them very dangerous to eat.
A toxin is a poisonous substance that can be produced by the production of a plant or animal, especially a bacteria. Food poisoning is caused by Staphylococci in the UK and more rarely in this country, Clostridium Botulinum.
The most common foods eaten by Staphylococci are:
• Meat pies
• Sliced meats
• Pies with gravy
• synthetic cream
• Ice cream
50-60% of people carry Staphylococci in their nose and throat and are found in nasal secretions after a cold. Staphylococci are also found in skin wounds and infections and find their way into foods through the hands of an infected food handler. Hence the importance of covering all wounds and skin conditions. Although staphylococci are themselves readily destroyed by thorough cooking or re-heating, the toxin they produce is often very heat resistant and may require a higher temperature or longer cooking time for its complete destruction.
Food poisoning from Clostridium botulinum – known as botulism – is very serious. This produces a life-threatening poison which is the most dangerous poison known. The foods most commonly infected by clostridium botulinum are:
• Improperly canned meat, vegetables and fish.
During the commercial packaging process, every care is taken to ensure that each part of the food is heated to a high temperature to ensure the complete destruction of any clostridium botulinum spores that may be present.
YEASTS & MOLDS – some microscopic organisms which are interesting in food and contribute to its characteristics. For example, ripening of cheese, fermentation of bread etc. They are simple plants that appear as whiskers on food. To grow they need warmth, moisture and air. The heat and sun have killed them. Molds can grow where there is little moisture for yeast and bacteria to grow. Yeasts are single-celled plants or organisms larger than bacteria, that grow on foods that contain moisture and sugar. Foods that contain a small amount of sugar and a large amount of water such as fruit juices and syrups are suitable for fermentation due to yeast. The yeast is destroyed by heat.
VIRUS – microscopic particles spread through food that can cause illness. For example, Hepatitis A (jaundice). Unlike bacteria, viruses cannot multiply or grow in food.
PROTOZOA – single-celled organisms that live in water and are responsible for dangerous diseases such as malaria, which are usually spread by infected mosquitoes and mosquitoes. These food-borne infections are mostly acquired negatively.
ESCHERICHIA COLI – E Coli is a normal part of the intestines of humans and animals. It is found in human excreta and raw meat. E Coli causes abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea and vomiting. High standards of hygiene and by cooking foods must be used. Raw and cooked meat must be stored at the correct temperature and cross contamination must be avoided.
SALMONELLA – found in the intestines of animals and humans. Foods involved include poultry, meat, eggs and shellfish. Prevention should include:
• good standards of personal hygiene
• elimination of insects and rodents.
• washing hands and equipment and surfaces after handling poultry
• does not allow infected people to drink food.
Control of bacteria
There are three ways to control bacteria:
1. Protect food from airborne bacteria by preserving foods. To avoid cross contamination, use separate plates and knives for cooked and uncooked foods Use different colored plates for specific foods. For example, red for meat, blue for fish, yellow for chicken etc. Keep cooked and uncooked food separately. Wash your hands often.
2. Do not store foods in the danger zone between 5c and 63c for longer than necessary.
3. To kill bacteria, subject the bacteria to a temperature of 77c for 30 seconds or a higher temperature for a short period of time. Some bacteria develop into spores and can survive at high temperatures for long periods of time. Certain chemicals also kill bacteria and can be used for cleaning equipment and appliances.
The main food hygiene regulations of importance to the keeper are: Food Safety (General Food Handling) Regulations 1995 and Food Safety (Temperature Control) Regulations 1995. These implement the EC Food Handling Regulations (93/43 EEC). They replaced a number of different regulations with the Food Safety (General) Regulations of 1970. The 1995 regulations are similar in many ways to the earlier regulations. However, as with the Health & Safety Act, these regulations place great emphasis on owners and managers to identify safety hazards, to design and implement appropriate systems to prevent contamination, these systems and procedures protected by Hazard Analysis Control Points (HACCP). ) and/or Restaurant Safe. The regulations place two general requirements on owners of food businesses:
• To ensure that all food handling operations are carried out cleanly and in accordance with the ‘Rules of Handling’.
• To identify and control all potential food safety hazards, using certain systems either HACCP or Food Safety.
• In addition, there is an obligation on any food handler who may be sick or has a disease that can be transmitted through food to report this to the employer who may be obliged to prevent the person concerned from taking food. Food establishments have a general obligation to supervise and educate and provide training in food safety & hygiene in accordance with their employees’ responsibilities. Details regarding how much training is required, not specified in the instructions. However, the HMSO Industry Guide to Catering provides guidance on training which can be taken as a general standard to comply with the law.
Prevention of food poisoning
Almost all food poisoning can be prevented by:
• in accordance with the rules of hygiene
care and thought
• ensuring that high standards of hygiene are applied to the premises and electronics
• prevent accidents
• high levels of personal hygiene
• physical fitness
• maintaining good working conditions
• maintaining equipment in good repair and clean condition
Using separate utensils and knives for cooked and uncooked foods
• abundant supply of cleaning materials and equipment
Storing foods at the right temperature
• safe food recycling
• rapid cooling of foods before storage
• Protection of foods from vermin and insects;
• cleaning procedures;
• Know how food poisoning is caused
• implementing procedures to prevent food poisoning.
This is a brief overview of food security. If you are in the food business or planning to become a cook or chef, it is important that you learn everything there is to know about the subject. The following links should help fill in the gaps.
In particular, you need to know the Food Regulations relating to your own country. It is not necessary to follow UK Food Safety Regulations if you live or work in Australia, Spain or New Zealand.
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