Food hygiene involves all the safe and clean practices, operations or processes in making food suitable and fit for consumption to protect public health from foodborne diseases. The food processes include handling, preparation and storage of food. Foodborne diseases occur as a result of eating contaminated food. Most of foodborne diseases are caused by bacteria and viruses. Common examples of microorganisms and foodborne illnesses they cause are:
- Staphylococcus aureus: causes food poisoning which symptoms includes diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, etc.
- Salmonella: causes salmonellosis; Salmonella typhi causes typhoid fever
- Escherichia coli: causes food poisoning which symptoms includes diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, etc.
- Campylobacter: causes campylobacteriosis
- Cryptosporidium: causes diarrheal illness called cryptosporidiosis
- Clostridium perfringens: causes diarrhea and stomach cramp
- Norovirus: causes diarrhea and vomiting
- Shigella: causes shigellosis or bacillary dysentery
Principles of Food Hygiene
There are five key principles of food hygiene, which are:
- Clean: This is keeping oneself and work environment clean and neat before, during and after making a food.
- Separate: keep away the raw food and animal (meat) materials from the cooked foods.
- Cook: Properly prepare and cook foods thoroughly before eating.
- Chill: Keep foods at safe temperatures. Store foods appropriately before and after cooking.
- Safety: Use safe water to prepare meals.
Importance of Food Hygiene
The importance of food hygiene can not be overemphasized as it:
- Prevents germs or microorganisms from multiplying in foods.
- Prevents foodborne diseases and its complications e.g., dehydration, kidney failure, arthritis, joint damage or even, death.
- Improves healthy individual and family living.
- Promotes public health.
- It reduces hospital admission and expenses.
- It helps to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in the community.
Practices of Food Hygiene
The following are safe practices that are carried out in prevention of food contamination or to ensure food hygiene:
- Hand hygiene: proper washing of hands and finger nails before preparing food and after handling raw materials.
- Properly clean and sanitize eating and cooking utensils.
- Thoroughly wash fruits, vegetables and raw food materials before eating or cooking.
- Avoid food that looks or smells rotten. Also, avoid rotten expired food.
- Ensure the kitchen or cooking area is clean and safe for cooking.
- Keep dustbins and wastes away from food.
- Proper storage of raw foods and cooked foods separately in the refrigerator.
- Covering cuts and sores with waterproof plasters and dressings when preparing food.
- Protect foods by covering them after serving
- Use safe and clean water in preparation and cooking of foodstuff.