According to World Health Organization (WHO), unsafe food is linked to the deaths of an estimated 2 million people annually – including many children. Food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances is responsible for more than 200 diseases, ranging from diarrhea to cancers.
It is important to work along the food production chain – from farmers and manufacturers to vendors and consumers.
So here are five keys to safer food which offer practical guidance to vendors and consumers for handling and preparing food as per WHO.
It is always necessary to clean your hands before handling, preparing and cooking food. Wash your hands after using toilet with a good antiseptic soap. Wash and sanitize all the surfaces and equipment used in preparation of meals, also make sure you are protecting your kitchen area and food from insects, pests and other bacteria. All these things will help keeping the dangerous infectious micro-organisms away from food that are found in soil, water, animals and people and are usually carried through hands, clothes, utensils and animals.
It is recommended to keep raw and cooked foods separate as it reduces the risk of cross contamination, which is the transfer of bacteria from sources such as raw meat or poultry, food handlers, animals and refuse to a high risk foods, like cooked meat products, dairy products, egg dishes (high protein foods). Hence you must keep separate utensils and containers for raw and cooked food.
Never leave cooked food at room temperature for more than 2 hours. It is recommended to refrigerate the food atleast below 5°C; promptly all cooked and perishable food as it hinders further multiplication of micro-organisms, although some grow normally. You must also remember that storing food for longer duration in the refrigerator is also not safe. Generally people prefer hot food as it tastes good, heated food also slows down and stops any possible growth of micro-organisms. So always re-heat the food before serving.
In the modern world, a water purifier at home is a must. Reverse Osmosis (RO) purifier is one of the best in market as dangerous micro-organism and chemicals in water is getting more common, and it helps separate these from water. Besides water, choose processed foods for safety, such as pasteurized milk; prefer farm fresh wholesome food over canned and supermarket. Toxic chemicals may be formed in damaged and mouldy foods. Always wash and peel before eating raw vegetables and fruits and do not use food beyond its expiry or best before date.