MAKING MAKING SAFE FOOD
Food is one of the few commodities that people actually take into their bodies and so when you produce food for sale you have a special responsibility not to hurt or injure your customers. The main ways in which a producer can harm consumers are by selling food that: • contains poisonous materials • contains bacteria or moulds or the poisons they produce • contains glass or other contaminants that could cause harm if eaten. Safe food can be produced by careful attention to hygiene and by good quality control during production, storage and distribution. Good hygiene means careful attention to the cleanliness of: • the building • the processing equipment and • personal hygiene of food handlers. This will prevent bacteria which are present in the building or on equipment and food handlers, from growing in the food. Good quality control means careful attention to: • selection of good quality raw materials and the correct recipe • correct processing conditions such as the temperature and time of heating • prevention of contaminating materials such as dirt, metal and stones from becoming mixed with the food • use of packaging materials to protect the food after processing • control of storage conditions to stop the food becoming infected after processing. This will ensure that only wholesome food is produced without contaminants. Any bacteria in the raw materials will be destroyed or controlled at a safe level and prevented from growing during storage. In most countries the laws on foods are designed to protect customers against poisoning and injury. They are also intended to stop customers from being cheated or confused by incorrect or misleading labels. Typically laws cover hygiene, the amount and type of food in a package and the quality of specific foods, for example, the amount of fruit in jam or meat in a pie. In general foods such as meat products, fish, seafood and dairy products have a higher risk of food poisoning and need more careful control over hygiene than other foods. These high-risk products usually have laws which are more strict than for other products. Each country may have a different name for the laws concerned with food hygiene, production and packaging. Readers are advised to contact their local Bureau of Standards, Ministry of Health or other relevant government department to obtain full details of the specific laws of their country.
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Making Safe Food
Whatever the name of the laws, their main content is likely to be similar and in this booklet the significant parts of regulations that cover food hygiene and labelling are interpreted in a series of illustrations. It is intended that these will guide producers to make safer food and accurate labels. This booklet is not a substitute for the regulations and readers are urged to consult the relevant government department to confirm the national laws that are in force. The authors and publishers of this booklet can accept no responsibility for any legal action taken against producers. Reading this booklet is unlikely to be allowed as a defence against prosecution and it is the responsibility of producers to ensure that their foods comply with national legislation. Finally, and most importantly, although the food laws may be enforced by Public Health Inspectors or people with similar jobs, it is the customer who must regularly inspect the foods made by producers. If customers become ill from eating a food or think they are being cheated or misled, they will not buy the food again. It is therefore in the producers' own interest to make safe wholesome foods because the customers will return to buy again and the business will grow and succeed. In the end the customer is the most effective food inspector. In the following pages the regulations relating to aspects of food production are interpreted in illustrations. The areas covered are: • the building used to produce foods • the equipment used to process foods • the personal hygiene of food handlers • processing methods, packaging and labelling • storage and distribution of the processed foods. This booklet is intended for use by extension workers and trainers in food processing. The following pages are suitable for .use as training materials or as posters to remind producers of good manufacturing practice.
Food Food poisoning and its causes
The main cause of food poisoning is the activities of tiny creatures called microbes (or microorganisms). Microbes live almost everywhere: on animals and plants (hence on all fresh foods in and on humans, in the soil, water, air and on all surfaces. There are many different types but the most important for food hygiene are bacteria, yeasts, moulds and viruses. One of the reasons why we process food is to eliminate and/or prevent the microbes present in the foodstuffs from multiplying and spoiling food and potentially causing disease. Microbes attack food tissue and break down its structure causing it to taste or smell 'off' and in some cases making it poisonous. Processing also aims to prevent food spoilage by de-activating enzymes and preventing oxidation. Enzymes are natural biological agents which break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. If left uncontrolled, enzymes would continue to break down the food itself. Fats in food hove to be prevented from reacting with oxygen in the air which can make them go rancid. Agents that cause disease (pathogens) can be transmitted to humans by a number of routes soil, air, water, direct person to person contact and food. Some can be transmitted to food by animals or by on item of equipment. Cross contamination occurs when contaminants are transferred from one food to another via a non food surface, for example, utensils, equipment or human hands. Harmful micro-organisms that must be guarded against include bacteria like salmonella (in poultry meat and eggs); E coli (found in animal products, faeces and soil); listeria (carried by humans and animals); campylobacter (in poultry meat, milk and dairy products); and viruses like
Making Safe Food
hepatitis A which are spread by dirty water, shellfish from polluted areas, fruits and vegetables contaminated by faeces or salad prepared in unhygienic conditions. To limit the spread of micro-organisms in their animals, formers must observe good hygiene practices on the farm, during transportation and at slaughter. Food processors must also observe good hygiene practices and correct processing techniques to prevent the spread of microorganisms in processed food. Illness is caused by eating food containing a significant amount of harmful (pathogenic) bacteria. Poisoning bacteria can cause illness either by producing poison in food before it is eaten or by continuing to multiply inside the body after eating. The symptoms of an attack of food poisoning can include stomach pains, diarrhoea, vomiting, headache, fever and aching limbs. Sometimes the illness lasts for days, weeks or months and in some cases, it can kill.
The The buildings
The condition of the building, the materials of construction and its position must be suitable for food production otherwise, legally, it is not allowed. Walls, floors, doors, windows, ceilings and other parts of the room, should be kept clean and in good repair. Animals should not be allowed in or near the buildings. Toilets should not open directly into the food room or store room, or be located in a place where the odours can reach these rooms. Toilets, drains and sinks etc should be kept clean and in good repair. Food rooms and store rooms should not be used for sleeping in and should not join directly onto a sleeping place.
Protect the food room against flies, cockroaches, ants, birds, rats and other animals including pets. They will contaminate the room and may spread disease to the food if they enter it. Make sure that they cannot get in through the doors, windows, drains or under the roof. Do not keep animals near the building.
Protect the drains with wire mesh where they leave the food room to stop rats, cockroaches and other insects from entering the building. Be sure to clean the mesh often. Make sure that there is good lighting and ventilation in the food room to help stop accidents, reduce steam
Making Safe Food
condensation and make working easier and safer.
Make sure that there is good lighting and ventilation in the food room to help stop accidents, reduce steam condensation and make working easier and safer.
Make sure that the food room has a supply of clean water for washing equipment and for use in food processing. If the water is not clean, it will contaminate the food. If the only water available comes from a stagnant pool or dirty source, it should be boiled for at least ten minutes to remove bacteria before it is used for washing food or utensils. It should not be used for food processing.
Making Safe Food
Keep the food room clean before work, during production and after you have finished. Hang brushes and cloths up to dry after use. Store the cleaning equipment in a separate cupboard to the food and processing equipment. Keep all chemicals, pesticides, poisons ·and detergents away from food in a separate storage area.
Do not let dirt gather on window sills, around table legs, work surfaces' or equipment. Kitchen work surfaces, such as floors and sinks, quickly build up a layer of grease and food debris rich in bacteria. Bacteria can easily be transferred to food from dirty work surfaces, knives and other kitchen implements. All work surfaces need to be washed regularly with hot water and detergent.
Keep all food in the food room covered. Clear up any spills as you work and do not leave wastes on floors, in drains or on work surfaces. Keep all wastes in covered bins and take them outside at regular intervals, disposing of them away from the food rooms. Lids should be kept firmly on bins and waste sacks should be securely fastened before putting them out for collection. Put table legs in pots of water or kerosene to stop ants crawling up them. .
By Peter Fellows, Vishaka Hidellage, Emma Judge, Published by Practical Action on 01/01/01
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