Canadians are fortunate to have a food supply that is wholesome, nutritious and safe. There is, however, no such thing as a zero risk when it comes to food safety. If you are like most consumers, you may have concerns about the safety of the foods you eat. This session is all about addressing some of these concerns. Topics for discussion include food borne illness, food poisoning, potentially unsafe foods, and guidelines for safe food handling. Remember, when it comes to food safety, "it's all up to you!"
To improve the nutritional knowledge of university/college students regarding food safety and what steps are necessary for safe food handling.
At the end of this session participants will gain an understanding of:
- The symptoms of food born illness.
- How to identify potentially unsafe foods.
- The guidelines for safe food handling.
Suggested Background Reading for Presenters
What Everyone Should Know About Food Safety, Ontario Institute of Professional Agrologists.
Food Safety - It's all in your Hand, Health and Welfare Canada.
Safe Food Handling - Ontario Ministry of Health. (Included)
- ENS: Food Safety
- Safe Food Handling Tips
- Hand Washing
- Safe Temperatures
- Suggested handouts
- Handle with Care, Choices: Let the Dietitian be your Guide, The Canadian Dietetic Association, 1993.
Clean up Safely
- Cases of "The Deadly Dessert", "Picnic Poisoning" (Food Safety ?It's all in Your Hands)
Food-borne illness or food poisoning results from eating foods containing large numbers of harmful microorganisms or their toxins. Harmful microorganisms grow in foods that have not been handled properly during preparation and/or storage. In general, symptoms of food-borne illnesses are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, fever and headache. Mild cases of food borne illnesses are the most common and recovery time is usually quite short. Occasionally, but not often, food-borne illnesses result in death. The Ontario Ministry of Health estimates that one out of six people each year are affected by a food-borne illness. Many people do not report their case because they think they have a stomach flu.
Development of Food Born Illnesses
Bacteria, also known as germs or microbes, are tiny organisms that can be seen only with the aid of a microscope. In fact, they are so small that it would take 500 million of them to form a single layer on a postage stamp. Harmful bacteria may infect the lining of the digestive tract or release toxins (poisonous substances). Pathogens which cause such illnesses are transferred to food when:
- Someone coughs or sneezes.
- People do not wash their hands after using the washroom.
- Insects or rodents are in contact with food.
- Dust particles attach themselves to food or are inhaled.
- Kitchen surfaces, utensils, and equipment are not properly cleaned.
Given the right conditions, pathogens can grow quite quickly. They thrive in warm, moist foods and can double in number every fifteen minutes when the temperature is between 35oC and 45oC. Most pathogens do not necessarily change the look, smell or taste of food. It is hard to tell if food is contaminated because the food appears normal. You can not rely on outward appearance to tell if a food will make you sick.
Potentially Unsafe Foods
Potentially unsafe foods are those in which food poisoning bacteria grow very rapidly unless properly heated (above 60oC) or refrigerated (below 4oC). It is now known that some bacteria that cause food poisoning are cold tolerant and grow at temperatures around 4oC. These bacteria show a special liking for the flesh of animals, fish and fowl and for such products as milk, cream and eggs. Foods which are unsafe if not handled properly and refrigerated or frozen promptly, are:
- Meat, poultry and fish
- Cooked vegetables, peas and beans
- Custards, puddings and whipped cream
- Milk and milk products (except hard cheeses)
- Processed meats (i.e., bologna, hotdogs, ham, etc.)
- Eggs and egg products
- Soft cheeses
Safe Food Handling Tips (Overhead 2)
- Keep Equipment and work space Clean.
- Anything that touches food, including your hands, is a source of bacteria. Clean all utensils, equipment, applications, dishcloths and work surfaces regularly with hot soapy water.
- Sanitize cutting boards and knives after preparing raw meats and poultry. To sanitize, add 50 ml of chlorine bleach to a sink full of hot water. Soak cutting board for at least one minute. This will kill the microorganisms that may make you ill.
- Choose cutting boards that are in good repair. Avoid plastic and wooden cutting boards that are cracked or worn because of the difficulty in killing the bacteria that could be in the crevices.
- Practice Good Personal Hygiene.
- Clean hands are essential for handling food.( Overhead 3)
- Avoid handling or preparing food when you are ill.
- Never put the utensil back in the food after you have used it for tasting.
- Thaw Foods Carefully.
- Thawing meat, poultry, fish and other potentially unsafe foods present a challenge. Foods thaw from the outside in. During the time it takes the centre of these foods to thaw, the outside portions are warm enough to support the growth of microorganisms. Thawing in the refrigerator or in cold water are the safest methods. Do not thaw foods on the counter. Foods thawed in the refrigerator will have less liquid and nutrient loss.
- Refrigerate thawed foods immediately if they are not to be cooked promptly. Cook thawed foods in the microwave immediately after thawing.
- Cook Foods Thoroughly.
- You can kill bacteria and stop bacterial growth by cooking foods to a minimum internal temperature and holding cooked foods at a specified temperature.
- Foods such as gravy, sauces and stews may take a long time to become hot in the centre. They should be stirred frequently so that there is even heat distribution.
- Keep HOT foods HOT (Above 60oC/140oF) and COLD Foods COLD (Below 4oC/40oF) (Overhead 4)
- Three quarters of all food-borne illnesses are due to inadequate cooling or heating. Microorganisms grow rapidly at temperatures between 4oC and 60oC (40oF and 140oF).
- Refrigerate or freeze foods immediately after serving.
- Cool bulk quantities of food quickly by dividing them into several shallow containers.
- Prevent Cross-Contamination.
[Discuss case studies titled "Deadly Dessert" and "Picnic Poisoning".
Address any questions]
- Sometimes a piece of equipment transfers pathogens to another food item which is safe to eat. This form of contamination is called "cross-contamination".
- Examples of two common situations where cross-contamination may occur are:
- When uncooked food (or the juice from raw meat or poultry), comes in contact with ready-to-eat food. Contact also happens when food items are cut in the same improperly sanitized cutting board.
- When raw meats or poultry are not properly stored in the refrigerator. Raw meats should always be stored below other foods to prevent their juices from cross-contaminating other foods stored in the refrigerator.
Other sources of food contamination include:
- cutting boards and counter tops
- equipment (slicers, mixers and grinders)
- serving utensils and tongs
- food thermometer
SAFE FOOD HANDLING
- Keep Equipment and Work Space Clean
- Practice Good Hygiene
- Thaw Food Carefully
- Cook Foods Thoroughly
- Keep HOT Foods HOT (Above 60oC /140oF) and COLD Foods COLD (Below 4oC/40oF)
- Prevent Cross Contamination
HANDS SHOULD BE WASHED AFTER:
- Using the toilet
- Sneezing or coughing
- Touching the face or hair
- Touching chemicals
- Touching raw Ingredients
- Touching contaminated surfaces
(i.e.,cutting boards, dirty dishes,
garbage bags or garbage containers)
- Handling money
- Touching pets