Did you know nearly 48 million Americans become ill after eating contaminated food every year? Of those, about 128,000 ending up in hospital. Food-borne illness outbreaks have become widespread across the country and food safety has become a major policy issue for state and national health authorities. A food handler’s card is now required for many workers food workers as a way to not only protect the public but protect establishments from liability.
Knowing food safety practices such as proper food preparation is an important safeguard against food poisoning and food-borne disease outbreaks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says these are the top five risk factors that cause food-borne disease outbreaks:
- Wrong hot or cold holding temperatures of foods. Food pathogens multiply fast at a specific temperature range. Pathogens that may be present in food will not proliferate if the temperature is correct, thus the critical importance of keeping food at the proper holding temperature. Refrigerated foods must be kept at 41 degrees F or below, while foods that have to be kept warm should be at 135 degrees F or above.
- Improper cooking temperatures. Cooking kills pathogens that are naturally found in food, for example, Salmonella in eggs and in raw chicken. Different foods have different recommended cooking temperatures to ensure that the pathogens are destroyed. For raw poultry, it’s 165 degrees F; for ground meats, it’s 155 degrees F; for eggs, fish, and whole pieces of beef, it’s 145 degrees F.
- Dirty, contaminated utensils and equipment. Utensils and equipment can harbor pathogens and can easily contaminate foods when they come in contact with them. They should be frequently washed, rinsed, and sanitized. Food-preparation equipment and food-contact surfaces, especially those that have touched raw animal products, should be sanitized every four hours as they are the most likely to be contaminated with bacteria.
- Poor employee health and hygiene. In the food-service business, it’s critical that the food workers are in good health and that they practice good hygiene. Otherwise, it’s very easy to pass on a Strep infection after an unguarded sneeze or an E. coli illness if hands are not properly washed after using the restroom. Worse, if an infected food worker is working on a large batch of food and contaminates it, the chances of infecting many and causing an outbreak significantly increase.
- Food from unsafe sources. Foods and ingredients sold or served in any food establishment must have been sourced from an approved supplier. This supplier is a facility where the food produced, prepared, or processed meets the requirements of a regulatory body such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This ensures that the food delivered to the food establishment is safe for human consumption. Food from unsafe sources should never be used.
Food safety training is essential to protecting customer health. To learn about food safety, visit 360training.com and enroll in Learn2Serve’s fully online Food Safety Manager Training & Certification Exam program.
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Source: TABC Blog by Learn 2 Serve