Feature: Why observance of Food Safety Awareness Week is important


According to the Philippine Information Agency physician consultant Dr. Dean Hernando Zenarosa, part of the Department of Health’s campaign to combat food and waterborne illnesses is through the promotion of public awareness of sanitary practices in food preparation as well as its effect on the health of individuals and communities.

On August 1999 by virtue of Proclamation No. 160, signed by President Joseph Estrada,  Food and Safety Awareness Week is observed every last week of October.

Zenarosa said this celebration aims to show the importance of clean and safe food to promote health and wellness.

He also shared the 5 "Cs" of Food Safety, as follows:

Five  simple rules that will help you to stay safe from food-borne illnesses in the kitchen:
*  Cleaning
*  Cooking
*  Cross contamination
*  Chilling
*  Clean Drinking Water

For Cleaning, he said to:
*  Clean kitchen surfaces after preparing foods; try to 'clean as you go'.
*  After handling raw meat, poultry, fish and other raw foods always wash hands, utensils and surfaces thoroughly and before any contact with other food, especially cooked and ready-to-eat foods.

Also, he said it would be best to use the right materials for the job, like:
*  Detergents such as washing up liquids are designed to dissolve grease, oil and dirt.
*  Disinfectants, such as bleach, are designed to kill germs. These are powerful agents and should not be used indiscriminately. Anti-bacterial cleaners are types of disinfectant and can kill germs - they often come in spray form.
*  Disinfectants and anti-bacterial cleaners won't work if you don't use them properly, so always follow the instructions.

Moreover, doing things right in the household, according to him, would spell the difference between being healthy and being sick, so he shared thses:
*  Use separate buckets and cloths for cleaning floors.
*  Give your kitchen a thorough 'spring clean' periodically.
*  Always clean surfaces first with detergent to remove any grease or dirt, then apply disinfectant to kill any remaining germs.
*  Use separate cloths or sponges for separate tasks; where practicable use disposable cloths. If using them more than once, wash in hot water and soap then place in a suitable disinfectant, rinse thoroughly and allow to dry. Do not soak overnight as disinfectant solutions weaken and may allow bacteria to grow.

For cooking food, Zenarosa shared the following:
*  Follow recipes and label instructions on cooking times and temperatures. Remember to pre-heat the oven properly.
*  Check food is piping hot before serving. Double check that sausages, burgers, pork and poultry are cooked right through; they should not be 'rare' or pink in the middle and when pierced with a knife any juices that run out of the meat should be clear, not bloody. Don't cook foods too far in advance. Once cooked, keep foods covered and piping hot (above 63°C) until it's time to eat them. When using the microwave stir foods and drinks and allow them to stand for a couple of minutes to avoid hot or cold spots.

The doctor also provided this eye opener on cross contamination. that include the following:
*  Food poisoning is often caused when harmful bacteria on one food are spread via hands or kitchen utensils to cross-contaminate other foods. Good hygiene helps prevent this.
*  Keep raw foods separate from cooked and ready-to-eat food at all times. In particular keep raw meat, fish, poultry and other raw foods away from ready-to-eat foods such as salads, bread and sandwiches. Never put cooked food on a plate which has previously held raw foods until it has been thoroughly washed.
*  Ideally use separate chopping boards for raw and cooked foods.
*  Wash hands after handling raw foods and before touching other foods and utensils.

For chilling foods, however, he said it is important to be reminded of these:
*  Do not put hot food directly into the fridge or freezer, let it cool sufficiently first; but remember that cooling should be completed within one or two hours after cooking.
*  To speed cooling divide foods into smaller portions, place in a wide dish and stand this in a shallow tray of cold water.

Then finally, he said it is best to keep one's body hydrated at all times, but to be always wary of taking only clean drinking water, as he also shared these: 

*  Drink only safe and clean water
*  Store drinking water in clean containers. Be sure to have a lid for the said container.
*  Avoid storing drinking water for more the 3 days 
*  If not sure, boil drinking water for at least 2 minutes or more


Source: Philippines Information Agency (pia.gov.ph)

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