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Module 4: Food Safety Introduction

If diners contract a foodborne illness from your restaurant, they can spread negative word and your establishment can face problems with the authorities. This can result in loss of business and temporary or even indefinite suspension of your operations. Here are some facts to note:

  • According to the World Health Organisation, more than 200 diseases are spread through food.
  • 5 billion episodes of diarrhoea in children under 5 years of age occurred annually (2009).
  • Of these, 3.2 billion cases occurred in Southeast Asia.
  • The high number of diarrhoea cases in Asia tells us that the region has serious food safety problems.


Types of foodborne illnesses

Foodborne illnesses are diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites transmitted to humans by food or water. It’s considered an outbreak when 2 or more people get the same illness after eating the same food.

There are 3 major types of foodborne illnesses:

Foodborne infections
caused by food contaminated with bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms.

Foodborne intoxication
caused by eating food that contains faeces and other contaminants.

Toxin-mediated infections
caused by toxins produced by microbes on the food after the food is consumed.

Types of food safety hazards

Biological hazards – Includes bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites. To protect your guests from biological food safety hazards, pay special attention to storing your raw, cooked, and ready-to-eat foods in the correct temperatures and in the correct way to prevent contamination and spoilage.

Physical hazards – Any foreign object in food (e.g. hair, nail/metal fragments, dirt, etc.). Prevent your food from coming into contact with physical food safety hazards through proper storage procedures. It is also important for all staff to maintain proper personal hygiene so that they do not transfer physical food safety hazards to raw, cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

Chemical hazards – Includes toxic metals, pesticides and certain chemical compounds in foods. Kitchen staff should also be wary of handling chemicals such as pesticides and cleaning products. Chemicals must be stored away from food.

FATTOM

FATTOM is an acronym for the factor microorganisms need in order to grow. This will help you remember what biological hazards to watch out for.


F: Food

Food rich in protein and carbohydrates have a higher probability of being affected by microorganisms unless handled correctly. There are rules to follow to stop microorganisms from growing in these types of food.

A: Acid
Low-acid or slightly acidic foods like poultry, fish, dairy, eggs and meats are potentially hazardous. You can avoid this danger with proper handling.

T: Temperature
Microorganisms grow in a “Temperature Danger Zone” (TDZ) of 5° to 56.7°C. Unfortunately, this is also the general room temperature range. Practise proper storage and avoid leaving unattended food in the open.

T: Time
Don’t keep food at the TDZ for more than 4 hours. That’s enough time for toxins from microbes on the food to multiply and contaminate the food.

O: Oxygen
Oxygen helps many microorganisms grow. Keep food covered and minimise exposure to stall bacterial growth.

M: Moisture
The more moisture there is, the easier it is for microorganisms to grow, especially with poultry, meat and raw eggs. Limit moisture and keep working surfaces clean and dry.

Congratulations, you’ve completed The Basics of Food Safety topic!

Continue on to the next topic, pick a related topic from the Food Safety module, or go back to the Chefmanship Academy modules page.

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