What food hygiene practices should food handlers implement when dealing with food?
People who are mindful about their well-being are concerned with almost everything they consume. Barely anyone is an exception when it comes to foodborne illnesses that results from ingestion of contaminated food. Food allergy is also an existing problem among people but not everyone suffers from this. Food hygiene is regarded as a crucial matter and it should be given proper attention to avoid these health hazards, especially among businesses that produce, prepare, serve, and store food.
Personal Hygiene Practices
One should always maintain good personal hygiene to ensure that food will not be contaminated with microbial pathogens, radioactive chemicals, or toxic chemicals. Practices include:
- Hand Washing. Wash your hands before you handle food or after you visit the toilet; when you cough or sneeze, handle garbage, touch your hair and/or other parts of your body; or come in contact with anything that may bring bacteria into the food. Always wash your hands thoroughly using soap and warm water.
- Cleanliness. Before handling food, you should take off your jewellery and store away any personal items or clothing that may come in contact with the food such as long sleeve shirts. It is also advised to wear clean clothing and tie your hair back or cover your hair with approved headwear. Keep areas clean and dry including benches, kitchen equipment, and tableware.
- Behaviour. If you are in food handling areas, don’t smoke, chew gum, or engage in other habits that are unhygienic.
- Injuries and Illnesses. If you are handling food and have cuts or wounds on arms or hands, make sure these injuries are entirely covered with a bandage or wound strip. If your hands are wounded, wear disposable gloves. For those who suffer from diseases that can be transmitted through food, it is not advised to be involved in food handling process.
Food Preparation and Storage Practices
Note that keeping raw food totally separated from ready-to-eat or cooked food does not mean you are completely eliminating cross-contamination.
Consider the following food preparation and storage practices:
- Receiving Food. When receiving perishable foods, know that it must be transported in a refrigerated container or food vehicle at below 5°C. With dry goods, such as cans and bread, the packaging should pass quality standards.
- Preparing Food. To keep the food away from cross-contamination, designate areas for all utensils, e.g. chopping boards with knives, dedicated for preparing raw and ready-to-eat food. Remember to always wash and sanitise the equipment after usage. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, rinse with running water. Do not prepare stock that is not fresh.
- Handling Food. Provided that your hands have been cleaned thoroughly, you can use your bare hands when handling raw food. With cooked or ready-to-eat foods, use utensils such as spoons, forks, disposable gloves, etc.
- Cooking Food. If frozen, defrost food in the bottom part of the fridge or microwave before cooking at least 60°C. Once thawed, never put it back for refreezing. If the food contains an animal product, it must be thoroughly cooked.
- Reheating Food. When reheating food, heat pan at 60°C and bring food to a boil. Simmer it for at least 5 minutes.
- Storage. Naturally forming bacteria can multiply at a rapid rate if food is not handled, prepared, or stored correctly. To ensure the best food safety:
- Control the temperature of high-risk foods such as dairy products, meat, and seafood.
- Keep cold food at temperatures below 5°C.
- When displayed, food must be covered or wrapped.
- Put any food that needs storing in the fridge right away.
Food on Display
For businesses that involve food handling, the kitchen area must be efficient in its food production, preparation, and storage practices. For businesses displaying food on stands, consider the following:
- Build the appropriate facilities for utensil and hand washing.
- All existing benches and tables must have smooth surfaces for easy cleaning.
- Set a designated area to place a garbage bin that’s well away from the fresh food.
Club Training Australia offers a Food Safety Course Level 1 and Food Safety Level 2 for individuals who want to learn about food handling in Queensland, Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia and Victoria as well as Food Safety Level 1 (Food Handling) and Food Safety Level 2 course in NSW. Most establishments are required by the law to at least employ one Food Safety Supervisor who is expected to have completed the Food Safety Supervisor Course.