How Safe is Your Food and Good Hygiene Practice

While making a research on carcinogenic meat preservatives I found a few reports  on food processing hygiene you’ll love reading. Read the reports and my comment at the end.

Nestle Infant Formula Cans in Canada Tampered with Powder

By Helen Glaberson, 20-Sep-2010

The product is thought to have been contaminated with flour and has led to one reported illness.

“It’s not usual, tampering is always a concern to us,” Balsam said, adding that there was a similar incident in the province a couple of years ago where the motive was monetary gain.

Consumers using the powdered infant formula products are being advised to look under the plastic lid of the cans to ensure that the metal or foil top is sealed properly.

Salmonella Outbreak

Product safety announcements have also been made to customers in the UK following the current Salmonella Typhimurium DT8 outbreak and also the recall of a Morrissons’ snack product.

On Friday the Food Standards Agency (FSA) reminded consumers and caterers of the importance of good hygiene practice when cooking with and consuming duck eggs. The announcement follows an investigation by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) indicating that from 1 January 2010 to date, 63 cases of the infection have been reported in the UK.

Two cases of hospitalization are known to be related to the current outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium DT8. A death is also thought to be associated with the outbreak, although at present the link is uncertain.  The recall of a Morrissons’ snack product was also made because it was lacking the eggs-allergy-alert label.

Morrisons Coconut Bites Recall

A warning has also been delivered to the public regarding Morrisons on its own-label Mini Coconut Bites which may be contaminated with small pieces of thin metal.

Temperature Abuse of Packaged Salads Raises Food Safety Fears – Study

By Rory Harrington, 24-Sep-2010

Storing packaged lettuce salads at 5°C (41°F) or below is critical for reducing food safety risks such as E.coli 0157:H7, according to new research.

Researchers said the findings were significant as they demonstrated that foodborne pathogens “can grow significantly on commercially packaged lettuce salads while the product’s visual quality is fully acceptable”.

“Effect of Storage Temperature and Duration on the Behavior of Escherichia coli O157:H7 on Packaged Fresh-Cut Salad Containing Romaine and Iceberg Lettuce” By Yaguang Luo, Qiang He, and James L. McEvoy was published in the Journal of Food Science doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2010.01722.x

Poor Processing Hygiene

Germany Highlights Risks from Packaged Sprouts and Salads

By Rory Harrington, 29-Jun-2010 HACCP, Contamination, Quality & Safety, Cleaning / Safety / Hygiene

High bacteria loads observed in fresh packaged sprouts and ready-to-eat salads are likely caused by a combination of factors including poor processing hygiene and humid conditions fostered inside plastic packaging, said a German safety body.

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) also said that contamination during the growth and harvesting of the products, as well as the fact that some bacteria are carried by animals and occur naturally in the environment also contribute.  But the agency said incidents of food-borne illnesses from the vegetables were relatively low compared to that from pork and poultry.

Potential Hazard

Studies by the group found that while both products are stored under refrigerated conditions they still carry a risk of contamination with bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and E.coli, as well as viruses such as Norovirus and hepatitis A. Soy bean sprouts or alfalfa as well as ready-to-eat mixtures of leaf lettuce and uncooked vegetables such as white or red cabbage and carrots can therefore become a health hazard for humans, added the body.

The federal agency said a study of 59 samples of fresh packaged sprouts and shoots found the numbers of bacteria in sprouts “increase considerably within a few days” and have an above average microbial load when they reach the best before date”. A study of 133 bagged salads in 2008 found 5% contained Listeria – particularly mixed salads consisting of white cabbage.

The BfR lists a range of potential causes for bacterial contamination along the entire supply chain. Irrigation with contaminated water or use of manure during growing can trigger bacterial growth. The cultivation of sprouts in special containers promotes the growth of bacteria and regular intermediate cleaning should be carried out.

A lack of hygiene during processing such as the use of contaminated washing water or a lack of refrigeration can further promote this. Whole lettuce and white cabbage can provide natural protection against bacteria, but this is broken once the vegetables are cut, with the release of cell sap providing a medium for the bacteria to multiply, said the body.

What a Filthy Rag

Posted by Andrew Wadge – Chief Scientist, Food Standards Agency, UK.

A small survey found that about half of restaurants use dishcloths that could make you ill. The Health Protection Agency tested 133 dishcloths from 120 restaurants in the North East of England and found 56% had an unacceptable level of bacteria – more than 10,000 per cloth.  Food bugs found included E. coli and listeria.

The study also found that about a third of restaurant kitchens used disposable cloths and the remainder had re-usable ones, which most restaurants disinfected.  Others are less well behaved – they didn’t know how often their cloths were disinfected or changed.

These sorts of findings demonstrate that, although there has been an increase in awareness of some simple good food hygiene practices in commercial (and domestic) kitchens – such as knowing that you shouldn’t use the same chopping board for raw and cooked foods – there are still areas where people aren’t sticking to the simple things that can prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen and illness.

Posted  on 16 September 2010 in, safety and health

Marta’s Comment

The further I study food hygiene, the more alert I become on how little some food-processing or serving companies, or restaurants and stores are aware about the outcome of their food services on their clients’ health.  A filthy tablecloth is a danger, but a small one for a human to be contaminated with  bacteria.

It would be useful to find out how many people in a restaurant kitchen soap their hands and brush under their nails after visiting a toilet?  Install a camera into a restaurant’s toilet to make discoveries.

Did you realize that a clean knife for cutting your cheese, but wet from tap water, would contaminate it with all kind of bacteria you’ve never imagine?

Did you watch chefs on TV cooking-channels “cleaning” their hands with simply a towel (without washing them) after holding a piece of raw meat and then just proceeding with the next dish preparation such as a raw salad, or a paste, or a smoothie that is supposed to be consumed raw, thus, retaining the bacteria from the raw meat?

My point is that the tablecloth bacteria’s harm to your health is as a mosquito bite to an elephant compare to the contamination that can come from hands not soaped and washed or from a wet knife used for cutting cooked foods like meat, fish, eggs, or cheese.
Marta Tereshchenko

18 thoughts on “How Safe is Your Food and Good Hygiene Practice

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