Since harmful bacteria can be present anywhere so an important food safety criterion is cleaning and sanitizing in the food preparation areas. To reduce the risk of contaminated food handlers must adopt best practices when cleaning surfaces, equipment, hands, and foods.
During food, preparation contaminants can easily be transferred between food handlers, equipment, foods and surfaces. Therefore, to prevent cross-contamination and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses, food handlers must ensure proper cleaning and sanitizing of hands, surfaces, utensils, equipment, etc. that come in direct contact with food. Some tips that can prevent cross-contamination are outlined below
· The first step in food safety is good hand hygiene or proper and thorough washing of hands with soap and warm water on entering food preparation areas
· Food handlers must make sure they lather their palms, fingernails, and back of the hands before washing dry them on a disposable towel.
· When using single-use sterile disposable gloves, food handlers must ensure that they change gloves when handling different types of foods like raw meats and vegetables
· One of the food safety risks comes from humans and so food handlers must avoid touching body parts like nose, eyes, mouth, hair or any part of the body when preparing foods
Another food safety risk comes from improper sanitization. Sanitising is done with the help of heating or chemicals.
· Chemicals used for sanitizing can remain on the surfaces or equipment and so only safe and recommended chemical cleaners must be used.
· Food handlers must always have a chart before them to make sure they are diluting the chemicals in the correct levels so they are neither overused nor underused.
· According to best practices surfaces and equipment in commercially run food preparation areas must be sanitized after every use.
· Equipment is considered to be sanitized when it is washed in water that reaches a heat level of at least 770C.
· To ensure proper sanitization the equipment must first be cleaned properly before it is sanitized either in the dishwasher or in a sink with hot water.
Fruits and vegetables are often treated with toxic pesticides and the foods have also been handled by numerous individuals before they reach the kitchen. Therefore, they must be washed thoroughly in running water especially if they are being used raw. Washing raw meats must be done in such a way that it does not contaminate other surfaces. Food must be washed before use, in clean and sanitized equipment. If the food is washed in a sink then the sink must be cleaned properly before using it to wash foods.
While washing foods leads to food safety it is also important to understand that
· Damaged portions of the foods must be cut away before washing
· Soap, bleach or commercial washes must never be used on foods
· Root vegetables and ground fruits like melons and cucumber must be gently scrubbed to brush away dirt
· Always use vegetables after drying them on a clean towel
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