There are two principles that guide the safe handling of food:
- The prevention of food contamination, and
- Controlling bacterial growth in food.
If you work as a food handler, you may be required to complete your food handling certificate. Food safety training will outline all the principles of safe food handling. Time and temperature control are the most effective practices against bacterial growth in food.
As a food handler you need to be aware of temperature control at every stage throughout the production process because bacterial growth is greatest when food is left in the danger zone.
What temperature range marks the ‘danger zone’ of foods, where bacterial growth is greatest? The danger zone is between 5 and 60 degrees Celsius. Foods left in the danger zone are susceptible to dangerous levels of bacterial growth. Food safety training will educate you on these and other important facts.
The Food Safety Standards require you to keep foods at 5 degrees Celsius and below or at 60 degrees Celsius and above to minimise the growth of harmful bacteria in the foods you handle.
And time control is just as important. Consider this: when you minimise the time food spends in the danger zone, harmful bacteria don’t have the opportunity to grow to levels that could cause a food safety hazard such as food poisoning. As a food handler, it is your legal responsibility to understand about such hazards. You can do this by obtaining a food safety certificate.
A handy rule is the two hour four hour rule. You can apply this rule to all high risk, ready to eat foods which have been held at a temperature within the danger zone, between 5 and 60 degrees Celsius.
- Refrigerate immediately after 2 hours
- Use immediately between 2 and 4 hours, and finally
- Discard the food after 4 hours in the danger zone.
By removing the opportunity for bacteria to grow and multiply, you are minimising the risk of a food safety hazard in your workplace.
Ready to eat food should be discarded after 4 hours at in the danger zone. Remember that the ‘2 hour 4 hour rule’ applies to all high-risk, ready to eat foods, so for this scenario, calculate from the time of cooking at 5.30pm to discard at 9.30pm.
Finally, monitoring and record keeping are also used to maintain the hygienic handling of food. It may be necessary for you to monitor and record the temperature and appearance of foods on food safety check sheets as a part of your workplace food safety program. A food safety course will advise you on these and many other food handling requirements. Make sure you have your food handling certificate before applying for a job that requires one.
A food safety hazard is something that is dangerous and likely to cause harm to food. As a food handler, it is your legal responsibility to understand about food safety hazards You can do this by obtaining a food safety certificate
Understanding the key risks which lead to food contamination and applying safe handling practices will help prevent a food safety hazard in your workplace. Completing your food handling certificate will ensure you have the knowledge to do so.
If you work in a high risk establishment, such as an aged care facility, be aware that special additional procedures also apply.
Food safety training will help you easily identify hazards. Food can be unsafe for a number of reasons, including:
- Chemical contamination
- Natural toxic foods
- Food allergens
- Physical contamination and
- Contamination by harmful bacteria
Did you know that many chemicals are used in the production, processing and preserving of food? Insect sprays, cleaning products and baits are all common chemicals that can cause food poisoning if used incorrectly.
Remember to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before use to remove any traces of pesticides and herbicides.
Different chemicals may need to be treated in different ways: check the labels and material safety data sheets to find out how they should be used and which safety precautions to be aware of. Always follow the instructions and ask your supervisor if you are unsure.
Store chemicals away from food or the equipment that comes into contact with food, such as utensils, benches and preparation materials.
Have you ever had to modify food production to cater for a food allergy? Food safety training will ensure you are prepared for this. Nuts, fish & shellfish, wheat, egg, dairy and soy account for the majority of food allergies which are caused by the naturally occurring chemicals in these foods, called food allergens.
Allergies are specific to each individual, with side effects ranging from mild stomach discomfort to death in extreme cases.
Symptoms may include:
- Anaphylactic shock
- Severe swelling
- Nausea, vomiting & diarrhoea
- Stomach cramps & congestion, and
- Shortness of breath
There is no cure for allergies only avoidance and being prepared for any severe reaction that may occur.
A food safety course will advise you on these and many other food handling requirements. Make sure you have your food handling certificate before applying for a job that requires one.
As a food handler, it is your legal responsibility to maintain food safety in the workplace.
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