Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Heat it, Boil it, Cook it, Peel it or Forget it

Heat it, Boil it, Cook it, Peel it or Forget it Food can become contaminated at any point during production, distribution and preparation. Eating contaminated food can lead to diseases. Diarrhea, cholera, typhoid and jaundice are all food and water-borne diseases due to poor food hygiene. All these diseases can become critical and life-threatening, if not managed timely. According to the first ever ‘WHO Estimates of the Global Burden of Food-borne diseases’ published in December 2015, the global burden of food-borne disease is considerable, and affects individuals of all ages, but particularly children under 5 years of age and persons living in low-income areas of the world. Food-borne diseases are an important cause of morbidity and mortality and also adversely affect socioeconomic development worldwide. As per the report, the most frequent causes of food-borne illness were diarrheal disease agents, particularly Norovirus and Campylobacter spp. Food sold on the roadside is not safe to eat. The food is often prepared in unhygienic conditions; the water used may be contaminated and the ingredients used may be of inferior quality. The storage conditions may not be proper. WHO developed the Five Keys (as follows) to Safer Food Program to promote safe food handling behaviors and educate all food handlers, including consumers. 1. Keep clean 2. Separate raw and cooked 3. Cook thoroughly 4. Keep food at safe temperatures 5. Use safe water and raw materials Last year, the Health Ministry along with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship launched a project ‘Clean Street Food’ to raise the safety standards of foods sold on streets across the capital city of New Delhi by training 20,000 roadside vendors on aspects of health and hygiene, in the first phase (Press Information Bureau, 13th March, 2016). Proper food hygiene therefore is important as it prevents food-borne diseases. Food hygiene basically means maintaining hygiene at home while cutting, serving and eating food. Any food which has been boiled, heated or peeled is safe for eating. Peeling means removing the skin of a fruit such as banana or oranges. The best formula to remember when food hygiene is in doubt is "Heat it, Boil it, Cook it, Peel it or forget it." This means that if one is not sure about the food hygiene and/or the offered food cannot be boiled, cooked, heated or peeled (without knife), then avoid eating it. The best fruits to eat in such situations are bananas and oranges. Dr KK Aggarwal National President IMA and HCFI

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