I consider myself a foodie because I do the following things: I visit highly recommended places that I read in magazines or blog sites, I take pictures of food before I eat them, I write food reviews and post them in my blogs, and I share my food and restaurant discoveries with my readers. As a foodie, I’m also very careful with the places I recommend to others because I know for a fact that that people fall ill due to food-borne diseases from contaminated food. Restaurants should not only offer sumptuous foods but also have the best practices in food handling and safety. The same is true at home.
Foodie or not, there are a few things we need to remember when eating out or preparing food at home:
1) Food must be stored properly. Acidity, temperature, time, oxygen, and moisture are factors that contribute to microbial growth. Certain foods need specific storage conditions. Containers should have labels that indicate their shelf life or expiry dates. Raw and cooked foods must be segregated so they do not contaminate each other.
2) Make sure the food preparation area is clean and sanitary. Preparation and storage areas of food should be cleaned at all times. Even the ceilings, walls, counters, and floors of kitchens must be regularly disinfected to make sure they are free of possible contaminants. Different cleaning sponges and wipes should be used for dishes, kitchen counters, and tables. Different utensils must be used to handle raw meat and vegetables and must never be interchanged. One tell-tale sign of a clean and safe food environment is the absence of pests like cockroaches, flies and mice anywhere in the premises. Notice as well if the servers who clean and wait on table use clean cloths to wipe your table or are they just spreading the germs while they wipe your table “clean”?
3) Restaurant staff should look neat and be trained for personal cleanliness. Look at how the waiters and other service staff are dressed. Are their clothes and personal appearance clean? For some fast foods, the staff uniform should consist of hair net, apron, and gloves depending on their tasks. Servers must follow a systematic procedure of washing and sanitizing their hands every 15 minutes. The spread of bacteria, and worse viruses, should be prevented. Sanitizers must always be available in the food preparation area and in the rest rooms as well.
4) Make sure to buy or consume food from dining places that are reputable and have the proper accreditation and clearance from public health authorities. A quick tip, try to notice the walls of the restaurants if they have their certificates up there. Restaurants and food outlets you can trust use the newest technology in food safety that can help them verify the quality of raw ingredients, ensure the food safety of their production environment and equipment, and prescribe the proper solutions that can make them claim food safety for their products and outlets.
We all need to have sufficient food safety awareness to avoid getting sick from what we eat. Prior to going on that next food escapade, whether bite-size breaks, urban food safaris, or an all-out cookout at home, keep the above tips and guide in mind.
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