Today is World Environmental Health Day, an annual event launched by the International Federation of Environmental Health (IFEH) to share knowledge and promote cooperation between countries where environmental health is a known issue.
The IFEH has announced the theme for this year’s World Environmental Health Day is ‘Global Food Safety and Sustainability’ and has pledged to support the provision of more safe food globally as well as supporting communities to value sustainable food production, precious water and nutrient resources.
According to an article published by the World Health Organization on 31 October 2017, an estimated 600 million people, that’s almost 1 in 10 people worldwide, fall ill after eating contaminated food and approximately 420,000 people die every year.
Major outbreaks of foodborne disease have occurred on every continent in the past decade, often amplified by globalized trade. Consumer demand for a wider variety of food has resulted in an increasingly complex global food chain, and as the world’s population continues to grow so too do the challenges for food safety. These challenges put greater responsibility on food producers and handlers to ensure food safety.
In the spirit of spreading awareness and knowledge this World Environmental Health Day, here’s our top ten tips for ensuring safe food preparation:
1. Buy your food and ingredients from a reputable business, check that it’s in date, in good condition and that the packaging is undamaged.
2. Always follow the manufacturer’s storage and cooking instructions on the label. Use a clean, digital, tip-sensitive thermometer to check food is cooked to 75°C in the coldest part and cool food quickly after cooking if it is not for immediate consumption.
3. The temperature ‘risk zone’ where food poisoning bacteria can multiply quickly is between 20°C and 50°C so always keep perishable, ready-to-eat food, raw meat, fish, shellfish, cut fruits and salads out of this zone. Keep refrigerator temperatures at or below 5°C and freezer temperatures at around -18°C.
4. Always keep ready-to-eat food separate from raw food, especially raw meat, fish, shellfish and unwashed vegetables.
5. Thaw raw poultry in a cool place in accordance with the label’s instructions and never wash raw poultry. It may be better to leave it covered overnight in the kitchen rather than thawing it in the refrigerator to avoid contamination and ensure it is completely thawed.
6. Wash your hands before handling food, after handling raw food and then before handling ready-to-eat food. Keep a clean towel or role of disposable paper towels to wipe your hands. Do not use tea towels used for drying clean pots and utensils.
7. Always keep pets and other animals out of the kitchen and especially off preparation surfaces.
8. After you’ve cleaned food-contact and hand-contact surfaces with hot water and a detergent use a food grade disinfectant to kill bacteria.
9. Ensure your dishwasher is well maintained so that pots and utensils are cleaned thoroughly. If you don’t have the luxury of a dishwasher, fill a sink with water that is too hot for your hands unless washing up gloves are worn. Be sure to change the water before it becomes cold or dirty and replace cloths or sponges frequently. Tea towels used for drying up should be laundered on a hot wash and changed frequently, or alternatively, why not use disposable paper towels?
10. Finally, never prepare food for anyone else if you are ill, especially if you have diarrhoea, vomiting or are continually sneezing due to a cold.
If everyone followed these ten simple steps we could dramatically decrease the number of foodborne disease outbreaks worldwide, allowing global efforts to focus on establishing much needed clean water resources and sustainable food production.
It is also vitally important that people working in the food or hospitality industries report any instances of poor practice relating to safe food to a manager or person in charge so that appropriate action can be taken to prevent the spread of foodborne diseases. Food and hospitality employers have a responsibility to make their staff aware of these dangers and highlight the importance of communication.
For more information on our full range of food safety training products, go to www.highfieldproducts.com/products/sector/food-safety/
To find out more about the IFEH and what others are doing around the globe this World Environmental Health Day, go to www.ifeh.org/wehd