Proper handling of food is very vital in maintaining high sanitation standards. This process should happen mostly in settings like care homes, where healthy meals are considered very important. A person should apply it in homes to ensure food safety to avoid contamination or bacteria growth. There are essential steps involved from when the food is received until served. The following are the steps to follow to prevent contamination or bacteria growth in food.
This step is the initial stage, and the consumer should receive it from a reliable source that has undergone the assurance process. The food should have no sign of an infestation or pest damage, consider temperature when receiving chilled or frozen food, and confirmation of the weight, date, and labels of the product. Any food that does not meet all these conditions is not safe to be received, and food that requires returning should be isolated from all other foodstuffs and clearly labeled that they are not consumable. (Brown, 2018). The procedure will help consumers not to confuse the safe food with those to be returned.
Storage of Food
This stage is the next step after receiving safe food. For food under dry storage, the home setup must be cool, dry, and pest-proofed with good ventilation. The goods should be checked frequently after a week for quality, signs of infestation, and expiry date. Storage should be off the floor, with all packs opened and decanted into the correctly labeled pest-proof containers (Olatunde and Atungulu, 2018). This process ensures the protection of products from being accessed by pests and rodents before consumption.
For Chilled food, the meals should maintain coldness by storing the products in a refrigerator. The fridge should not be overstocked and be kept clean, and regular temperature checks are done frequently with a quality thermometer. For those products that need to be frozen, the consumer must store the food in a freezer should be maintained properly as this will not entertain any bacteria present and will not grow. Once the product is frozen, bacteria can reoccur, and therefore, the consumer should cook it within 24 hours (Jing, 2018). This process kills all the bacteria present in the food, making it safe for consumption.
Food Preparation and Cooking
This stage follows after storage, according to Murphy et al. (2018), a cook thoroughly defrosts frozen food before cooking unless the food instruction says cooking should happen from freezing because the meal may develop some difficulty in cooking. Products from the fridge should also be defrosted in a microwave or placed under cold running water, that’s if they are in a container. It’s not safe to subject raw meat and poultry that is not in a container under running water and leave food at room temperature or put them in water. This procedure does not defrost the food quickly, hence may lead to the growth of bacteria.
After preparation, the next step is cooking the food, which should happen correctly as product undercooking may lead to food poisoning. Cooking kills any bacteria that may be present, therefore, making it safe for consumption. The effectiveness of this process depends on the temperature applied and for how long. Preheating should occur in cooking appliances such as ovens and grills before cooking to reduce the time taken for the food to be ready. Where applicable, a consumer follows the manufacturer’s instructions for product preparation because trying, and testing occur to ensure safety for consumption (Jing, 2018), therefore, the guidelines are safe to apply.
Serving Hot Foods (Hot Holding) and Chilled Food (Chill Holding)
This stage is the next step after cooking, and hot holding refers to keeping the cooked food hot before serving. For hot serving, it’s vital to keep meals sufficiently hot to prevent pathogens from growing in the food. Hot meals can be kept below 63 degrees Celsius for almost two hours and should only occur once. After the recommended hours should be quickly cooled at room temperature of 8 degrees Celsius or below. A cook should discard food that is open for more than two hours.
The chilled food requires chilled holding at 8 degrees Celsius and below before serving. Any temperature within the process will not cause severe problems to human health. This procedure can only happen for up to four hours to eat but should not occur more than once (Kotsanopoulos and Arvanitoyannis, 2017), this process makes the food safe to eat.
Reheating and Cooling food
Lastly, reheating and reusing food is a better form of reducing waste, but the person involved should be careful. This process is just like cooking again, and it’s not just warming up. Therefore, food must go through adequate reheating, just as when it’s initially cooked. Inadequate reheating of food can be harmful to some meals such as cooked rice and pasta. The consumer should serve the food immediately, and heating should not occur more than once. For cooling foods, they are held and offered at a chilled temperature after cooking. They should be cooled as quickly after heating because human bacteria can grow in food left to chill slowly at room temperature (Moreb et al., 2018), leading to disease
If all these procedures, measures, and recommendations are adhered to properly, this will reduce food poisoning and related illness cases. Bacterial infections in food will also decrease, and diseases like Cholera will be minimized in society, making a healthy living. These procedures will also reduce wastage and food spoiling during storage, resulting in safe meals for consumption. The process always maintains high sanitation when handling food, resulting in consuming food that is not a health hazard.
Brown, A. C. (2018). Understanding food: Principles and preparation. Cengage learning.
Jing, Z. (2018). Application of information technology in food storage and transportation safety management and establishment of information network integration platform for food storage and transportation safety management. 2018 International Conference on Information Management and Processing (ICIMP). Web.
Kotsanopoulos, K. V., & Arvanitoyannis, I. S. (2017). The role of auditing, food safety, and food quality standards in the food industry: A review. Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety, 16(5), 760-775.
Moreb, N. A., Priyadarshini, A., & Jaiswal, A. K. (2017). Knowledge of food safety and food handling practices amongst food handlers in the Republic of Ireland. Food Control, 80, 341-349.
Murphy, T. E., Walia, K., & Farber, J. M. (2018). Safety Aspects and Guidance for Consumers on the Safe Preparation, Handling and Storage of Kombucha—A Fermented Tea Beverage. Food Protection Trends, 38(5), 329-337.
Olatunde, G. A., & Atungulu, G. G. (2018). Emerging pet food drying and storage strategies to maintain safety. Food and Feed Safety Systems and Analysis, 45-61. Web.