Being cautious with food

With all of the planned celebrations during the coming week, I want to take this opportunity to sound a word of caution about how to prevent getting sick from the consumption of food during the festive season.

Food borne illnesses can be very unpleasant and relatively easy to contract. There are some relatively basic rules, which we should observe in relation to handling food.

Let us start with the suppliers of food. One should always make sure that persons responsible for supplying food do so under proper conditions. Storage and packaging are also very important in preventing the contraction of food borne illnesses.

Once satisfactory conditions for handling food have been met from the suppliers end, the next phase of importance is delivery. There are rules, which should be observed for transporting food and drink. Again, the simplest rule to observe is that cold food should be transported under refrigerated conditions, frozen food likewise should be transported under freezing conditions and hot food should be transported hot.

When food is not transported under appropriate conditions, the risk of bacterial growth increases. How it is stored is equally as important, as this aspect of food handling is just as important. Things like eggs should never be stored on top of meats and vegetables.

The next phase is the preparation. Far too often persons handle food and drink under inappropriate conditions. Simple things like leaving meat to defrost in room temperature conditions can lead to bacterial growth, which can then lead to food borne illness. Meats should really be defrosted in refrigerated conditions or under consistent running water, never at room temperature or left in still water.

Once food is prepared, again special attention should be paid to how it is handled; keeping hot food hot and cold food cold. Attention should also be paid to what happens to food after it has been prepared and displayed.

Far too often persons engage in the practice of taking leftover food from one location to another. This practice is most noticeable when persons host events and there is a high no-show element. Many people believe that as host, if they have paid for the guaranteed number and less persons show-up to the event that they should be entitled to take the food for which they have paid. This is an extremely dangerous practice.

If food is kept hot, then allowed to cool, transported, refrigerated and re-heated later, the perfect condition for bacterial growth will develop. We should avoid this situation always in order to prevent getting sick or making others sick.

* Tourism is our business, let’s play our part.

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