Food hygiene can be compromised at eight different stages in its supply and preparation. These stages start on the farm and end on the fork.
At every stage great care must be taken to ensure that the end product will be safe to eat. Let’s define all eight stages.
The eight stages are:
FROM FARM TO FORK!
1) The farm- Animals, and crops must be handled and cared for humanely & professionally by trained professionals and with proper supervision by qualified Vets.
2) Transportation of raw materials- animals and crops must be transported in a way which complies with state legislation and ethical codes.
3) Processing plants.- this stage includes slaughter houses, packing stations and factories. All of these sites should be authorised by appropriate regulatory bodies, have a valid manufacturers license, issues to state and national specifications, and comply with GMP, ISO 9002 and HACCP’s standards. All authentic, safe products should have the name address and telephone number of the processor or manufacturer clearly printed on the packing.
GMP=Good manufacturing procedures
HACCP=Hazard analysis and critical control points
Iso=International standards organization
4) Food Distribution networks.- Distribution of food must be done according to National, state and city regulations. Likewise deliverymen must be clean and well presented. Transport containers must be clean inside and out and be designed specifically to transport the type of food in them, EG. Frozen, chilled.
5) Food Delivery and food storage- food should be delivered in good condition with undamaged packaging. It should be stored in suitable conditions for that type of food & in a way that prevents cross contamination with other food sources. This includes food storage in the home of the consumer.
6) Preparation of food before cooking.- Food should be prepared along clean guidelines. Meat should be thawed in refrigerated conditions and kept separate from vegetables, dairy products, eggs etc. by keeping the meat in a closed container during the defrosting process. Fresh vegetables should be cut on a separate clean cutting board and knives should be thoroughly washed before being used to cut other foodstuffs. In Professional kitchens there should be separate work stations for unclean vegetables, raw meat, dairy confectioneries and salads.
7) Cooking, roasting, baking.- Cooking the food will kill most bacteria but keep in mind that some bacteria and toxins survive high temperatures so it is most important remember to keep food hot until eaten or Alternatively chill in small containers and freeze as quickly as possible. Bacteria cease to be active at temperatures of less than 4 degrees centigrade.
8) Serving.- Serving food is often the stage when most people let down their guard. Food should be served at a temperature of above 70 degrees centigrade or at a temperature of 5 degrees centigrade or less for cold foods. Serving dishes, pates and cutlery should be spotlessly clean after being washed thoroughly at a temperature of above 70 degrees centigrade.
By checking all these stages as thoroughly as possible you can cut your risk of getting food poisoning considerably.