Topic 2 Basic rules to keep food safe

According to the European Food Safety Authority (2021), and the World Health Organization (2006), five simple steps must be followed to prevent foodborne illnesses:

  • do not leave prepared food at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • cool perishable food immediately below 5°C.
  • keep hot dishes at a temperature of at least 60°C until serving.
  • do not store food for long periods of time, even in the refrigerator (fresh beef, veal, pork 3 to 5 days, fresh poultry 1 to 2 days, raw eggs in shell 3 to 5 weeks, leftovers 3 to 4 days in refrigerator) (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2021).
  • do not thaw frozen food at room temperature, but only in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave (Food Safety and Inspection Service, 2013).

Microorganisms multiply very quickly at room temperature. Large quantities of them is dangerous to health. At temperatures below 5°C and above 60°C, the multiplication of pathogens is reduced or stopped.

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  • use clean drinking water for cooking.
  • do not use unpasteurised milk and milk products.
  • wash vegetables and fruit thoroughly, especially when they will be consumed without heat treatment.
  • do not use food that has passed its expiry date.

Unclean water, unpasteurised or uncooked milk and milk products may contain health risks dangerous microorganisms. Food that has been heat-treated or properly washed is safer.

  • wash your hands before cooking, and every time you come into contact with raw meat.
  • wash your hands after using the toilet and before handling food.
  • wash and disinfect all kitchen surfaces and utensils used for cooking.
  • ensure that there are no insects, pests or other animals in the kitchen area.

Although most microorganisms are not dangerous to humans, many are found in the soil, water, and in the intestines of humans and animals. They are spread through dirty hands, kitchen utensils and cloths. This is how microorganisms can get into food.

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  • keep raw meat, poultry and fish separate from other foods.
  • use separate tables and knives for processing raw meat, poultry, fish. Alternatively, wash them well with water and dishwashing detergent and dry them after contact with these foods.
  • refrigerate food in such way that it does not come into contact with raw materials.

Raw meat, poultry, fish and their liquids can contain dangerous microorganisms that can contaminate other food during cooking.

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  • cook or bake foods of animal origin well: meat, chicken, eggs, fish. Such products must be heated to at least 70°C.
  • the liquid from cooked meat or poultry must be clear and not pinkish. Ideally use a thermometer.
  • pre-cooked food or food that has been refrigerated for longer periods must be thoroughly reheated before consumption.

Temperatures above 70°C kill all foodborne microorganisms.

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