The Importance of Food Hygiene: Common Food Poisoning Sources

food hygiene

Food safety is an everyday concern that, while seemingly pedestrian, is nonetheless a critical aspect of food preparation. Food safety prevents common concerns with food handling and consumption, such as cross-contamination, food poisoning, and food handling-related injuries.

Because of the importance of food safety, the Food Safety Supervisor (FSS) training and certification became a requirement through the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

The Food Safety Supervisor training is a nationally recognised training course that educates learners and prospective food industry workers on their responsibilities and obligations in regards to food handling, food preparation, and food safety. The course is available through Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and is accessible to course learners via online or face-to-face delivery. The certification for the training is provided within ten business days by the RTOs upon qualified training course completion.

The training courses for Food Safety Supervisor, among other things, advises course learners on the following points: sanitary food handling procedures, food hazard prevention, food contamination prevention, food preparation responsibilities, and proper food damage and wastage disposal. Individual training courses carry course codes that indicate various coursework; enquire with the selected or chosen RTO regarding the suitable course for one’s intended work level.

Food poisoning is one of the main driving forces behind the formulation of the National Food Authority Act 1991. According to the Australasian Science Magazine dated December 2012, food poisoning results in an average of 5.4 million cases a year, with an estimated 1.2 million cases qualifying as severe enough for hospital visits. Regarding productivity, this costs Australia an estimated $1.25 billion annually in both lost revenue and healthcare payouts.

Cases of food poisoning can be limited through proper food handling and hygiene. Here are some common sources of food poisoning and how to avoid them.

Raw or undercooked poultry

One common cause of food poisoning is raw or undercooked poultry, which includes chicken, duck, and turkey. The primary cause of poultry-related food poisoning is two types of bacteria, Campylobacter and Salmonella, which are typically found in the gut flora of poultry. To remove these bacteria, the poultry meats should be cooked thoroughly. The cooking process, when done correctly, will kill the bacteria and make the poultry meat safe to consume.

Vegetables

Vegetables are a common source for food poisoning because of the presence of such bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria. For example, according to Australia’s Foodborne Illness Reduction Strategy 2018‒2021, 56,200 cases of salmonellosis have been recorded circa 2010, including 2,100 hospitalisations and 15 deaths. Vegetables can also be contaminated at any point from the harvesting to the food preparation stage.

To prevent food poisoning from vegetables, always wash the vegetables and leafy greens thoroughly to ensure that dirt and chemicals don’t contaminate the food. As well, when consuming vegetables raw, like in salads, avoid vegetables that have been left to sit at room temperature, as it will have had time for bacteria to set in.

Fish and Shellfish

Fish and shellfish are a source of histamine, a toxin that is naturally produced by bacteria found in seafood. Histamine is not a bacteria; it isn’t destroyed by the cooking process and can result in a type of poisoning called scombroid poisoning. The symptoms of scombroid poisoning include nausea, wheezing, and swelling in the face and tongue. Anaphylactic shock may also set in.

To avoid scombroid poisoning, only buy store-bought seafood and refrigerate it immediately if they’re not going to be cooked right away. Make sure that any fish or shellfish is cooked thoroughly. When consuming fish raw, ensure that the fish is bought from a reputable source and that the fish is fresh or has been refrigerated; avoid any raw fish dishes that have been left sitting out in room temperature for some time.

These are some of the common food poisoning sources. Food poisoning incidents can be avoided through proper food hygiene; consider enrolling into a food safety training course today to learn more.

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