11 Food Safety Facts You Need To Know

Shivani K ·
11 Food Safety Facts You Need To Know

India And Food Hygiene

If you are someone who doesn’t mind taking a chance on expired loaves of bread or milk products, then let this be the ultimate guide for your transformation. Food safety is rarely spoken about, especially in a country like India. We don’t think twice before eating from restaurants with a hole in their wall or from street-side stalls that sell spicy aromatic pav bhajis with blobs of butter, sitting out in the dusty air opposite to an open toilet. We are convinced that we can bend the rules of bacteria and triumph over WhatsApp forwards that claim Indians have greater immunity primarily because we gobble up disease-causing bacteria every day.

Nothing is humbling about the fact that we prefer to feast upon vada pavs cooked by a man drenched in sweat. According to a study conducted by a public health organisation, only 30% wash their hands before preparing food in India. No wonder! That NRI from the US has an upset stomach after his every visit to home (1).

Why Food Safety Is Important?

We all indeed fall prey to the mouth-watering gol gappas and bhel puris on the street but it’s time we question what condition they have been cooked. How often do you see hairnets, washed hands and gloves in food corners and restaurants you visit? Food safety is much more than eating freshly made food. It’s preparing, handling and storing food or drinks in a way that reduces contamination from bacteria and the risk of food-borne diseases. Bacteria contaminate food before you get to the end of “baiya woh deena.” The 5-second rule is not true as well, food can get contaminated as soon as they touch the floor. When tested under a microscope, Mumbai street food contained bacteria like coliform, E Coli, salmonella, shigella, staphylococcus aureus, and pseudomonas which cause infections like diarrhoea, typhoid, food poisoning, urinary tract infection and pneumonia. These bacteria are the ones found in human faeces (2).

 Food Safety Checklist For Home

The general attitude towards food safety is majorly based on trust. We automatically believe that the person cooking is taking care of all the hygiene. There are signs you need to look for to ensure that the food you are putting in your mouth is prepared with moral standards. The four pillars of food safety are categorised into 4 C’s - Cooking, Chilling, Cleaning and Cross-contamination. Having the four pillars checked before consumption is essential for preventing food-borne diseases. Below is a list of measures to look out for before eating at a new restaurant.

  • Follow personal hygiene by washing hands, sanitation and regular showers.
  • Good storage of raw foods and they are kept away from cooked foods.
  • Refrigeration of temperature-sensitive foods.
  • Equipment for food preparation.
  • Cleaning fruits and vegetables with salt and vinegar.
  • Grains, powdered foods and dried foods are kept separate and away from liquid.
  • Pest control in cooking areas.
  • Cooking at the right temperature that destroys bacteria but retains nutrition.
  • Regular maintenance of kitchen towels, racks, counters and floors.
  • Using clean water for food preparations.

Handy Tips For Food Safety

Nobody likes to waste food but forcing yourself to eat expired food products will do more harm than good. With these facts, you can master food safety and truly enjoy cooking for your friends and family.

  • Refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours of opening them.
  • Set the temperature of the refrigerator to 4.4 degrees Celsius or below and the freezer should be at -17.7 degrees Celsius.
  • Raw meat or poultry must be cooked within 2 days of refrigeration.
  • Don’t buy canned foods or packed foods that are bloated or damaged. They might be good initially but they spoil when refrigerated.
  • Consume leftovers within 36 hours of preparation and reheat them at 73.3 degrees Celsius. Dispose of foods that are sitting at room temperature for over 2 hours.
  • To freeze your eggs, slightly crack them at the top and place them in the fridge. Freshly cracked eggs stay up to 2-4 days in the freezer and lets you know when they’ve gone bad.
  • Always keep your frozen foods in the freezer and not in the fridge section. They are not meant to be kept below.
  • It takes 4 hours for bacteria to multiply on melons. Make sure to eat your watermelon, muskmelon and other fruits within 4 hours after cutting them.
  • Freezing only stops the growth of bacteria but it doesn’t kill it. Cooking the food at the right temperature is the only solution to killing bacteria.
  • Placing fruits and vegetables in the same bag as raw meats leads to contamination.
  • Always rinse your can-opener, dirty can-openers are the leading cause of food poisoning.

Cooking for yourself and your family is a rewarding experience. The basic awareness about food safety can help to let go of the fear of food-borne diseases and keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

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