Food poisoning kills hundreds of thousands of people every year. In the USA up to five thousand people die each year, in the UK up to four hundred. The numbers are similar in other developed countries but the number in Asia and Africa and South America are far higher.
One of the world’s worst out breaks was when a manufacturing company made a manufacturing error causing 18,000 customers to be made ill. Other outbreaks in developed countries have resulted in 19 customers dying from listeria food poisoning.
Bacteria, like listeria,m are classified as low dosage organisms which means very small numbers can cause illness, sometimes as few as 10 organisms can be enough. And food poisoning not only causes pain and suffering but costs us all money. In the UK, in a recent survey, listeria cost the NHS £450M in one year. Campylobacter is a relatively little known organism but has now become the UK’s and many other European countries number one cause of foodborne illness.
The following guide identifies the top ten things that go wrong. By following this simple guide we can make ourselves and more importantly our customers safer and avoid food poisoning.
Top 10 Tips – to Prevent Food Poisoning.
1. Do not prepare food too far in advance or storage at ambient temperature.
2. If not eating immediately, cool cooked food as quickly as possible and put in the fridge.
3. When reheating food always reheat to 70C and hold for at least 2 minutes.)
4. Do not buy contaminated processed/canned Food
5. When cooking food always heat to 70C and hold for at least 2 minutes.)
6. Where food needs to be thawed out prior to cooking make sure it is fully thawed all the way through.
7. Avoid cross-contamination.
8. Do not eat food raw if it should be cooked – avoid sushi.
9. If food is going to be kept warm check it is above 63C or consumed within one hour of cooking.
10. Do not let people who have an infection handle food.
HACCP. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point.
If you want to be even safer use HACCP. This is a food safety management tool that is used all over the world factories, catering establishments, hospitals, restaurants and in the UK is being used by haulage companies, packaging manufacturers etc.
Cases of food poisoning are on the rise, and recent news stories about the failures of hygiene in food establishments reinforce the importance of a systematic approach to eliminating food safety hazards.
One way to tackle this problem is to introduce a food safety management system based on HACCP principles. HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) assesses each step in food manufacture for potential food safety hazards, and then introduces practices and procedures to eliminate or reduce the risk of these hazards occurring
HACCP can be applied in businesses of all sizes and, as of 1st January 2006, it became mandatory in all UK food handling operations. The wider benefit of adopting HACCP is an improved food safety culture that involves everyone and manages the risks before problems arise. Change is planned and managed, and provides the foundation for the ‘continuous improvement’ that is the common goal of many modern management systems.