Anyone who handles food, either at home or at work should have at least a basic knowledge of food safety training. It is incredibly easy to obtain and pass along harmful bacteria. Here are a few fascinating facts involving our kitchens.
1. Food poisoning may often not come from the food itself; it may originate from your cleaning sponge. The simple act of wiping down your kitchen counter with a contaminated sponge can kill you. Salmonella and E. coli are two types of bacteria that are easily spread by contaminated kitchen sponges. Without proper food safety training sanitation practices, the bacteria on your kitchen sponge can be transferred to your hands and then from your hands to the food you touch. Once you ingest these now contaminated foods, you can get food poisoning. Over 80 million Americans experience food poisoning each year; some of these cases are fatal.
2. Unscented bleach is a chlorine-based chemical that can be used to sanitise food contact surfaces when diluted correctly. Plain bleach only should be used; not bleaches with added ‘lemon scent’ etc.
3. In Europe in 2010, 212,064 people were infected with bacteria from “improperly cooked” chickens, due to a basic rule of food safety training that was not adhered to. The internal temperature of the meat was not adequate. This was the fifth increase of incidents in five consecutive years involving bacterial illnesses in humans. Twenty-five people died from food related illnesses that year.
4. Humans have approximately 10 million bacteria daily on their skin between their fingers and their elbows, this number will double after using the toilet. Damp hands will spread 1,000 more germs by touch, than dry ones. Millions of germs can and do, hide under watches and bracelets. Although 90% of people claim to regularly wash their hands after using a bathroom, only 30% of people actually do. With improper food handling procedures, the bacteria transferred from kitchen staff to customers can be lethal. It only takes a touch from a bacteria infested finger to transfer a virus that can result in illness or death.
5. The dirtiest places in a kitchen are often the countertop and the sink handles, the cleanest place is the floor. Proper education on correct food safety handling methods can ensure that bacteria is not living in the strangest of places.
6. 1 in 6 cell phones contain fecal matter. Using somebody’s cell phone while handling food can actually spread dangerous bacteria.
7. Food court carrying trays often contain more germs and bacteria than public washrooms. How many times have you eaten your French fries directly off of the food tray?
8. The only food that does not spoil is honey. Every other food should be meticulously stored in the appropriate places to avoid decomposing. Proper education on food safety training can ensure that food is properly stored for both longevity and safety.
9. It is a common misconception that in order to get sick from food it must look, taste or smell bad or be "off". In fact, most food poisoning bacteria do not cause foods to appear bad. There can be enough harmful bacteria in food to make you sick even though the food still seems normal in appearance, taste and odour. The reverse situation is also true: there are some types of bacteria that will spoil food but will not make you sick if you accidentally eat it. The best option is "if in doubt about the condition of the food then don’t eat it".
10. An improperly maintained deep fryer can cause the oil to degrade. This degraded oil can contain increased levels of oxidized liquids which have been linked to Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
Proper food safety training procedures are extremely important both at home and at work. Improper techniques can lead to illness and in some cases, death. Correct education along with common knowledge will help ensure that the food served to us and by us, contains only the ingredients we expect and nothing more.