For many of us, food is not just a necessity to survive, but something to be enjoyed and explored. The pure joy of trying restaurants and cuisines that make our taste buds tingle is a huge part of many of our lives. From eating out to cooking up a storm at home, food is an integral part of our communities. With food being such an essential part of daily life, you’ve probably heard a lot about food safety and why everyone should be implementing food and hygiene safety measures. So, when it comes down to it, what is food safety and why is it so important? How do we ensure that we’re safely handling food so that we can continue to enjoy it without worrying about hygiene and food safety?

What is food safety and what does it encompass?

Food safety refers to the practices that we undergo when handling, storing, preparing and serving food to ensure that contamination is kept to a minimum and that food is safe to consume. Food can be easily contaminated at any point from storage to eating, so it’s important to always know how to safely handle and prepare food in such a way that foodborne illnesses aren’t an issue. Some of the most common and important steps of food safety include:

Thorough cleaning to prevent cross-contamination

Cross-contamination is a real concern with food, especially if you are working with raw meat or vegetables. Raw meat, especially chicken can harbour harmful bacteria, so you need to ensure that you are thoroughly cleaning and sanitising your workspace, utensils and equipment both in between and after working with your ingredients. If possible have chopping boards and utensils that are allocated to each ingredient type and ensure you don’t use them for anything else.

Personal hygiene of food handlers

Personal hygiene is incredibly important when you are working with food. Personal hygiene standards must be maintained to ensure that no harmful bacteria get onto food during preparation or service. This can include:

Tying hair back

Washing hands thoroughly and often

Wearing gloves when handling food directly

Ensuring your uniform is always clean to prevent germs from transferring from clothing

Not touching your face or hair – washing your hands if you do

Storage of food

Food storage plays a huge role in food safety as food that is stored incorrectly can lead to bacterial growth that can make a lot of people ill. You must know how to store cooked food as well as ensure that perishable food is properly refrigerated or frozen at the correct temperatures. Correct storage will help to reduce the growth or spread of harmful bacteria.

Preparation and cooking of food

Food that is incorrectly cooked or cleaned can end up making a lot of people sick. You must understand how certain foods are to be cleaned and cooked and how long meat especially needs to be cooked and at what temperatures to ensure that it is safe to consume.

Why is food safety so important?

Food safety is essential for so many reasons. From ensuring that the food you are eating doesn’t lead to you getting ill, to not putting undue stress using the public health sector, food safety impacts many aspects of society, Proper food safety doesn’t just start in your home or restaurants. Food safety starts at the very first step in the production line and continues all the way through to consumption. With this in mind, it’s important as it assists in:

– Preventing foodborne illnesses and reducing the risk of disease and death that are caused by the consumption of unsafe foods
– Improving public health and helping to reduce the burden on the health care system
– Ensuring there is an uninterrupted food supply
– Reducing the risk of diseases or nutritional deficiencies that can be caused by unhealthy food
– Reducing the burden of financial loss that can be caused by foodborne illnesses
– Improving regulatory practices that help to reduce the prevalence of harmful food practices

Always keep food safety at the back of your mind

Whether you’re eating out a lot or you do a lot of your cooking at home or in a food-related business, it’s important to always keep food safety in mind. Knowing how to properly clean, store and cook your food will help to reduce the risk of harmful bacteria that can make you seriously ill. If you’re looking for more information on food safety and why it is important, we can help. Take a look at our blog (https://www.aia.edu.au/learn/) or feel free to get in touch (https://www.aia.edu.au/contact-us/) with the team today.