Food safety is used as a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent food-borne illness. The occurrence of two or more cases of a similar illnesses resulting from the ingestion of a common food is known as a food-borne disease outbreak. This includes a number of routines that should be followed to avoid potential health hazards. In this way food safety often overlaps with food defense to prevent harm to consumers. The tracks within this line of thought are safety between industry and the market and then between the market and the consumer. In considering industry to market practices, food safety considerations include the origins of food including the practices relating to food labeling, food hygiene, food additives and pesticide residues, as well as policies on biotechnology and food and guidelines for the management of governmental import and export inspection and certification systems for foods. In considering market to consumer practices, the usual thought is that food ought to be safe in the market and the concern is safe delivery and preparation of the food for the consumer.
Food can transmit pathogens which can result in the illness or death of the person or other animals. The main mediums are bacteria, viruses, mold, and fungus (which is Latin for mushroom). It can also serve as a growth and reproductive medium for pathogens. In developed countries there are intricate standards for food preparation, whereas in lesser developed countries there are fewer standards and less enforcement of those standards. Another main issue is simply the availability of adequate safe water, which is usually a critical item in the spreading of diseases. In theory, food poisoning is 100% preventable. However this cannot be achieved due to the number of persons involved in the supply chain, as well as the fact that pathogens can be introduced into foods no matter how many precautions are taken. The five key principles of food hygiene, according to WHO, are:
Prevent contaminating food with pathogens spreading from people, pets, and pests.
Separate raw and cooked foods to prevent contaminating the cooked foods.
Cook foods for the appropriate length of time and at the appropriate temperature to kill pathogens.
Store food at the proper temperature.
Use safe water and safe raw materials.
Safe food handling procedures (from market to consumer)
Proper storage, sanitary tools and work spaces, heating and cooling properly and to adequate temperatures, and avoiding contact with other uncooked foods can greatly reduce the chances of contamination. Tightly sealed water and air proof containers are good measures to limit the chances of both physical and biological contamination during storage. Using clean, sanitary surfaces and tools, free of debris, chemicals, standing liquids, and other food types (different than the kind currently being prepared, i.e. mixing vegetables/meats or beef/poultry) can help reduce the chance of all forms of contamination. However, even if all precautions have been taken and the food has been safely prepared and stored, bacteria can still form over time during storage. Food should be consumed within one to seven (1-7) days while it has been stored in a cold environment, or one to twelve (1-12) months if it was in a frozen environment (if it was frozen immediately after preparation). The length of time before a food becomes unsafe to eat depends on the type of food it is, the surrounding environment, and the method with which it is kept out of the danger zone.
Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours—1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F (32.2 °C).
Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer with an appliance thermometer. The refrigerator should be at 40 °F (4.4 °C) or below and the freezer at 0 °F (-17.7 °C) or below.
For example, liquid foods like soup kept in a hot slow cooker (65 °C) may last only a few hours before contamination, but fresh meats like beef and lamb that are promptly frozen (-2 °C) can last up to a year. The geographical location can also be a factor if it is in close proximity to wildlife. Animals like rodents and insects can infiltrate a container or prep area if left unattended. Any food that has been stored while in an exposed environment should be carefully inspected before consuming, especially if it was at risk of being in contact with animals. Consider all forms of contamination when deciding if a food is safe or unsafe, as some forms or contamination will not leave any apparent signs. Bacteria may not be visible to the naked eye, debris (physical contamination) may be underneath the surface of a food, and chemicals may be clear or tasteless; the contaminated food may not change in smell, texture, appearance, or taste, and could still be contaminated. Any foods deemed contaminated should be disposed of immediately, and any surrounding food should be checked for additional contamination.
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