Food-borne diseases are common in Canada. Approximately, 1 in 8 Canadians fall prey to food-borne illnesses every year. Out of these cases, more than 11,500 people are hospitalized, with more than 230 deaths.
These data show that food safety is extremely important to reduce food-borne illnesses, not only for Canada, but for the whole world as well. Three key factors for food safety are especially important for understanding and training: time and temperature control, proper storage of food and preventing food contamination. Understanding these factors and their role in food safety is particularly important, for the food businesses during the Covid-19 epidemic.
Your employees will also need a food handler’s certificate from a trusted source, which can be produced when food safety inspection occurs.
1. Time and Temperature Control
Pathogens require a certain amount of time and temperature to grow and leading to food-borne diseases. The pathogens thrive in the Temperature Danger Zone, i.e. between 4°C and 60°C (40°F to 140°F).
Food companies must ensure that food, especially high-risk foods are kept away from this Danger Zone to prevent harmful pathogens from growing, which makes customers sick. After a maximum of 2 hours of storage in the Temperature Danger Zone, high-risk foods must be thrown away.
In the early days of Covid-19 pandemic, some food companies converted their business model to include takeaway and delivery. Many of these businesses have never had such a type of service before that. Food businesses need to educate their staff about these types of services maintaining time and temperature control, as they present their own unique issues.
For example, delivery requires food to be delivered to the customer in a container. Food companies must ensure that the container can maintain hot and cold food so that the food does not meet with the Temperature Danger Zone in transit.
2. Food Storage
Management of food is critical to maintain food safety. Food companies must ensure that foods are properly managed in every stage, including receiving, storage, preparation, cooking, and services. Foods that is not stored properly may get contaminated even before the chef starts cooking it.
When you receive food, food businesses must ensure that foods are at the correct temperature. For example, the refrigerated food must be 4°C or less. The refrigerated food delivered at temperatures above 4°C must be rejected. Then, food companies must ensure that food is properly, and safely stored.
Storage of food in an appropriate order ensures that high-risk foods are not maintained above the temperature danger zone.
3. Prevention of Contamination
Cross-contamination refers to the transfer contaminants from surfaces, objects or people to food. Common reasons for cross-contamination include unsafe food treatment measures for food treatment procedures, allowing dangerous bacteria, viruses and parasite contaminate the food.
When these pathogens are consumed, they lead to food-borne diseases. Food handlers can pollute food by incorrectly handling high-risk foods. For example, if the food handler uses a cutting plate to prepare a meat, cross-contamination can be caused, if the same cutting plate is used to prepare the salad. Pathogens from raw meat can be transferred to a fresh salad component by cutting plates.
The best way to prevent food pollution in food businesses is through food safety training and education. Make sure all food handles in the business receive the latest food safety training. A food handler must always get a food handler’s certificate from a registered organization.
Food businesses also need to ensure that proper cleaning and disinfection procedures are always followed. Food safety training ensures that all employees know how to clean and disinfect in a correct and safe way.