March Topic : Food Handling

Topic of the Week : Safe Food Handling and Food Borne Diseases

Food borne diseases are a widespread and growing public health problem, both in developed and developing countries. Food borne diseases are usually either infectious or toxic in nature, caused by agents that enter the body through the ingestion of food. Every person is at risk of food borne diseases.

Thousands of types of bacteria are naturally present in our environment. Not all bacteria cause disease in humans. For example, some bacteria are used beneficially in making cheese and yogurt. Bacteria that cause disease are called pathogens.

  • Prevalence

The global incidence of food borne disease is difficult to estimate, but it has been reported that in 2005 alone 1.8 million people died from diarrhea diseases. A great proportion of these cases can be attributed to contamination of food and drinking water.

Despite many actions taken by government or private sectors to improve sanitation and hygiene, however, incidence rate of cholera, dysentery, typhoid and Hepatitis A are in increasing mode in Malaysia, as compared between Health Facts 2008 and 2009.

  • Common pathogens that lead to food borne diseases
Pathogens Food Source
Salmonella Raw and undercooked eggs, undercooked poultry and meat, dairy products, seafood, fruits and vegetables.
Campylobacter Raw and undercooked meat and poultry, raw milk and untreated water.
Escherichia coli Raw or undercooked meat and raw milk.
Cholera Untreated  water
  • Common symptoms of food borne diseases:

– Diarrhea
– Vomiting
– Nausea
– Abdominal cramps
– Fever
– Joint/back aches
– Fatigue

  • How will I know if my symptoms are a result of food borne illness?

It can be difficult to know if your symptoms are due to food borne illness or to another cause. Some of the foods borne symptoms are headache, fever and vomiting, which can be attributed to the flu or other illnesses. A healthcare practitioner may be able to determine the cause of your symptoms.

In all cases of illness, regardless of the cause, it is important to seek immediate medical attention when food borne symptoms are severe.

  • Four Easy Steps of Safe Food Handling

1. Wash hands and surfaces often
Hands need to be washed under running water for 20 seconds after and before touching foods.

2. Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate
Use a different cutting board for raw meats, salads and ready to eat foods. Cross-contamination occurs when meats, poultry and seafood come in contact with ready to eat foods or foods that do not required cooking.

3. Cook to proper temperatures
Make sure foods are thoroughly cooked (no cool spots) and use a meat thermometer to measure internal temperature.

4. Chill-Refrigerate promptly
The danger zone for rapid growth of bacteria is between 40 – 120. Most of harmful bacteria do not multiply at temperature below than 40

  • Storage tips for eggs

The best way to store eggs is to keep them in their own carton in the fridge. Egg shells are porous and can become tainted by strong-smelling foods in your fridge.

Keeping them in the carton makes this less likely to happen. Don’t wash eggs as the shell becomes more porous when wet, making it easier for bacteria to get in.

  • 2-hour Rule

Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food and leftovers within 2 hours to avoid bacteria grow to unsafe level. Do not leave them sitting out at room temperature.

  • Storage tips for potatoes

Store raw potatoes in a dark place. Potatoes exposed to light will produce solanine, which turns potatoes into green colour. Cut away and discard any green spots before cooking because solanine tastes bitter and can also cause indigestion if eaten in large amounts.

Store potatoes separately. Do not store potatoes with apples, pears, bananas, or onions. These vegetables will cause potatoes to spoil more quickly and may also transfer flavors.


Everyone Plays a Role in Food Safety

Food contamination can occur at any stage from farm to table. Everyone on the food delivery chain must employ measures to keep food safe – farmer, processor, vendor and consumer. Safety at home is just as vital to prevent disease outbreaks. Women are primary targets for food safety education as they are responsible for household meals in many societies.


Article courtesy of Golden Horses Health Sanctuary.
Download this article here.


About minesgreencircle

Founded in 2008, the Mines Green Circle is the special Green Environmental Unit of Palace of the Golden Horses and Mines Wellness Hotel for “Better Environment, Better Health”. It advocates green practices amongst the personnel of the Palace of the Golden Horses and Mines Wellness Hotels as well as its guests.

Posted on April 11, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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