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Food Safety: A Student's Guide to Hygiene

Daniel Swift discusses the essentials of food hygiene following World Food Safety Day

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Image Credit: Teemu Matias, Pexels

World Food Safety Day was celebrated on 7 June. The day was about promoting good food safety practices in our homes and raising awareness of the more complex process behind food safety in the food industry in general. With this in mind, I thought it would be good to share some important information about food safety and hygiene and how to stay safe when cooking at home, while also highlighting the importance of spreading awareness of food safety beyond our borders.

To prevent cross-contamination, wash hands, use separate utensils between the raw and cooked, and keep food items separated in the fridge (i.e., storing raw meat below cooked foods). Effective cleaning should be done through keeping surfaces clean using a cloth and surface cleaner (like Domestos), washing hands regularly while cooking, and keeping utensils clean. You must cook food properly (duh) by making sure your meat is thoroughly cooked and not raw. Finally, a consideration of peoples’ allergies is very important. Ask your friends if they have any food allergies or sensitivities and be mindful of the allergen content of foods (highlighted in bold on ingredients lists).

Another important measure to take in preventing yourself from catching a bug from food is to pay careful attention to ‘use-by’ and ‘best before’ dates on packaging. According to the FSA, the use-by date is important to keep in mind and is the main date to look out for, especially on perishable foods, which include meat, fish, dairy, etc. The use-by date therefore concerns food safety and so any foods past their use by date shouldn’t be eaten. ‘Best before’ is where there is a bit of wiggle room when it comes to whether or not you need to throw out the food. It’s important to check for visual and physical cues with items that have gone past their best before date like texture and colour. Food items that have gone past this date will usually be safe to eat, provided that they have been stored correctly, but their quality might have deteriorated.

World Food Safety Day isn’t and shouldn’t just be about promoting an awareness of food safety in our homes and on a national level; it is also important for us to have an understanding of the significance of food hygiene on a global scale and calls into question the efforts of developed countries in promoting food safety and hygiene internationally. Luckily, we live in a country that has a very high standard of food safety regulations, however, our government and others alike need to offer their support to developing economies that lack the infrastructure needed to regulate food safety and educate people on the importance of good hygiene. Foodborne diseases pose a significant risk to the populations of countries with poor sanitation practices. According to the WHO, there are around 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses worldwide each year, of which 420,000 of these result in death. Unfortunately, a large number of these figures include children. The regions with the highest rates of infection and death include Africa and areas of South-East Asia. It is therefore our duty as individuals, and the duty of our governments, to spread awareness and share knowledge and resources of good food safety practices in order to prevent the transmission of pathogens and prevent unnecessary deaths.

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