Today’s automated and mass-producing generation, for the most part, has given us some very cool things to celebrate. Technology advancements, for one, have made food processing and inventory management a lot easier and more efficient for manufacturers. Unfortunately, proper hygiene has become a continuing cause of concern for some food establishments.
In 2013, the NSF International’s Applied Research Center (ARC) stated that many common kitchen items tend to harbor unsafe levels of E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, yeast, and mold. According to the researchers, unsafe practices like improper food storage, handling, preparation, and cleaning are the leading causes for foodborne illness . Restaurants were forced to critically evaluate their own food safety guidelines and be more responsible in their food handling practices.
Salmonella and Listeria are the two most notorious food poisoning culprits and are usually the ones that trouble restaurant owners the most.
While not as common as Salmonella, Listeria in itself is a fairly disturbing bacteria that often affect vulnerable groups such as the elderly, pregnant women, babies, and people with reduced immunity. Listeria, which causes listeriosis, can survive not only on refrigerated food, but also in and around the areas and utensils we use to cook as well as on the grocery shelves from which we select produce. Furthermore, the symptoms of infection may not show up until a couple of weeks after ingestion, making it a difficult and serious concern for anyone in the food business.
The majority of people who acquire the illness may need hospital treatment, and around one out of five victims may die as a result of serious infection. Fortunately, antibiotics can treat the illness during its early stages. Contamination can be prevented by a staff that’s well-trained and disciplined in food handling. Some of the best practices in the kitchen include:
- Proper storage of products at their recommended temperatures, especially uncooked and perishable goods.
- Thoroughly cooking raw food from animal sources, such as meat, poultry, or seafood to a safe internal temperature.
- Clean countertops and kitchen equipment
- Always wash your hands before handling any food, especially raw food
Salmonella is the second most active cause of food borne illness and is commonly found in unpasteurized milk, raw egg products, meat, seafood, and poultry. Even if only a small amount of Salmonella is found in food, the bacteria can grow quickly if not contained immediately. It can also spread almost immediately among people especially if they’re not conscious of their personal hygiene. The symptoms of Salmonella can include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps usually after a day or three when the infection first occurred. All of these things make it extremely important for restaurants to enforce proper food and safety policies and guidelines to every employee. To help eliminate the threat of Salmonella, the staff can:
- Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry.
- Cook ground beef, poultry, and egg products thoroughly.
- The refrigerator and other kitchen equipment that usually gets in contact with raw product must always be regularly sanitized and cleaned.
Overall, both Salmonella and Listeria can be avoided in the workplace if everyone is disciplined and accountable. A comprehensive and progressive food safety guideline will surely go a long way as well, especially if the managers are able to implement them without fail across the entire workplace.