Let’s Get Deadly Earnest About Food Safety
Monday, March 7, 2016
That moment when your face reddens, your heart quickens, your gut starts to ache and fever rushes through your body … seconds before you vomit. Green is a colour I’d rather wear than feel.
According to the NSW Food Authority, around 4.1 million of us Aussies are affected by it every single year. But the Australasian Science website lists it higher: 5.4 million cases a year (including 120 deaths)! That’s a lot of time spent in bathrooms, and, sadly, at funerals. The trouble is, nearly everyone will feel its unwanted presence at some point in our lives, including the more vulnerable members of our community: the young, the old, the pregnant, and those with low-immune systems.
Not to get too morbid here, but the big point to make is, it’s imperative to handle food safely.
It’s not enough just to wash hands after using the loo either. It’s knowing how to wash food, cook it, store it, what surfaces to cut it on, how long to leave it exposed to air without refrigeration, how long to keep it in the fridge after it’s been cooked and what types of foods carry the biggest dangers. That’s a whole lot of education we need right there – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Did someone mention iceberg? Lettuce to be exact? Even big corporate companies have had their recent run-ins with micro tough guy, ol’ Mr Bacteria. Coles were not amused to find out their washed-and-ready-to-eat pre-packaged salad bags were contributing to food poisoning outbreaks countrywide – let alone the huge spider found in one of those packages! (Which, of course, went viral on social media.)
So, what are some of the habits we need to instil in our chefs, cooks and school lunchmakers? The NSW Food Authority keeps it simple with their tips: Keep it cold, clean, or hot, and always check the label. We need to be especially diligent when handling meat and poultry, raw eggs, dairy and fish. Though, the Australian Food Safety Council lists a whole lot of foods which can become contaminated by exposure to raw meat.
When working in the food/hospitality industry, it’s vital to not only know how to handle food, but also when to ring in sick. If you’ve had any symptoms of vomiting, diarrhoea, or fever, stay at home until the illness has thoroughly passed. Your café or restaurant’s reputation is everything. Patrons need to know they can trust the establishment you work for. NSW Food Authority and local councils work hand in hand to ensure the safety of all in the food industry, but employees also need to take responsibility for contributing to the health and vitality of any food outlet.
If you’d like to work in the food industry or know more about food handling, why not try one of our courses: Food Hygiene or Food Safety Supervisor. It might just save someone from becoming best friends with their toilet.