Safe food refers to food that is free from food poisoning causative agents which as bacterial and chemical contamination. Negligence on this issue will not only lead to the closure of business but also to death in serious cases.
The provision of safe food to customers is the most essential activity of food operators. Provision of safe food is a team activity and it involves food handling activity must be vigilant and ensure that the food is handled in the most careful manner.
Consumers should be provided with food prepared hygienically and with great care. Poorly prepared food may be contaminated by bacteria or chemicals or by both, this causative agent of food poisoning makes the customers fall sick.
What is Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning is an illness characterized by stomach pains and diarrhea and sometimes vomiting, developing within 1 to 36 hours after consuming the contaminated food.
Different Food Poisoning Causative Agents
Food may be contaminated by the following:
- Chemical: This results in chemical food poisoning.
- Harmful Bacteria: Resulting in bacterial food poisoning.
1. Chemical Causative Agents
It occurs when the chemicals accidentally contaminate food. Chemical food poisoning may occur due to the following-
- Chemicals are sprayed on vegetables and fruits during cultivation. Sometimes these fruits and vegetables are affected by the chemicals. When these are not washed properly before use, they get into food and cause chemical food poisoning.
- Zinc poisoning occurs when acid foods are stored or cooked in poor-quality enameled or galvanized vessels.
- Copper pans should be properly tinned and should never be used for storing Acidic foods as they will dissolve some quantity of harmful copper.
- Lead poisoning may occur when the water that has been in contact with lead pipes is drunk or used in cooking.
2. Bacterial Causative Agents
Bacterial food poisoning occurs when food is contaminated by harmful bacteria. Bacteria thrive in warm and moist foods. Bacteria spreads faster mainly through cross-contamination.
Cross-contamination refers to the transferring of bacteria from contaminated food to uncontaminated food through hands, tools, work surfaces, kitchen cloth, cutting boards, etc.
Which are Food Poisoning Causing Bacteria?
These four types of bacteria are responsible for the usual types of food poisoning:
- Staphylococcus Aureus
- Clostridium Perfringens
- Listeria Monocytogenes
The ideal environmental factors that are responsible for the rapid growth of this food poisoning-causing bacterias is,
The ideal temperature for the growth of bacteria is 4-63 degrees Celsius and they grow rapidly at body temperature, 37 degrees Celsius.
The temperature range of most kitchens is ideal for the growth of bacteria. The food should not be kept in the temperature range of 4 to 63 degrees Celsius for more than 1 or 1/2 hours.
Heat register spores need 4 to 5 hours of boiling to get killed. To make the food completely safe, the food should be heated for a sufficient length of time. Bacteria at cold temperatures neither get killed nor do multiply. They remain dormant for long periods.
If the food is contaminated before storing it at a cold temperature, the bacteria will be active once the temperature is raised. Food, be it raw or cooked, should never be allowed to remain in the danger zone of 4 to 63 degrees Celsius for more than 1 or 1/2 hours.
Moisture is necessary for the bacteria to multiply. If it is deprived of moisture, bacteria will not develop.
For example, It cannot multiply on dry foods. Ideal foods for bacterial growth are custards, creams, gravies sauces, etc.
Time is another reason for the growth of food-poisoning bacteria. The longer the time a food is stored at room temperature, the larger the presence of the bacteria. It divides into two every 20 minutes under the ideal condition and in 6 to 7 hours, there will be millions of bacteria present in the food.
The presence of a small number of bacteria has little effect compared to large numbers. Therefore, one should not keep the food for a long time at room temperature. Food should be consumed immediately after the preparation.