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Basic Food Safety Tips for Food Handlers

Updated on March 17, 2012

Food Handlers have important roles in preparing and serving food to people.

Working in a restaurant (fine dining or a fast food one), food handlers are the chefs, line cooks, kitchen helpers, waiters/waitresses, busboys and even the cashiers and supervisors.

Food production has never been this complicated and it's so important to be aware of the safety that underlies on every ingredient, food menu and people who comprise the catering department of every establishment.

Food Handlers can be divided into two groups, those who work as stewards on board commercial ships and those who are working at the in-flight service of airline companies.

So, it is important for food handlers to observe and practice personal hygiene and environmental sanitation. These two factors are important in order to avoid food-related problems. Let's ponder on closely.

  • Personal Hygiene - is all about personal cleanliness, as in cleaning hands and using proper devices when handling, cooking and serving food. It's a must to 'always clean your hands' before making contact with food ingredients in the galley or kitchen.
  • Environmental Sanitation - involves the maintenance of cleanliness in the galley or kitchen, as in proper waste disposal, cleaning of utensils and the work area.

(Gist of the seminar attended by travel_man1971 aka Ireno Alcala last February 23, 2012 at the Quarantine's office, Pier South, Gate 1 BoQ, Metro Manila, Philippines)

Travel Man as one of the participants
Travel Man as one of the participants

Food-Borne Illnesses

Food-Borne Illnesses (FBI) are always ready to strike, contaminate food and inflict diseases in our bodies, once we neglect the proper operations in the food industry.

FBI are germs or toxins associated or mixed or contaminated with food, that in turn bringing life-threatening effects.

It can lead to diseases like diarrhea, cancer, arthritis and neurological disorder.

Germs can be beneficial like the lacto-bacilli for good digestion or fatal to our health like the Salmonella or even the red tide toxin.

High-risk foods for contamination are meat, fish, pasta, eggs, milk and cheeses.

Travel Man at the South Harbor, Manila, Philippines
Travel Man at the South Harbor, Manila, Philippines

Evading Food-Borne Illnesses

There are five keys to remember in order to avoid food-borne illnesses in the food industry.

  1. Be clean. Wash hands thoroughly with soap before handling food. Sanitize utensils, especially chopping board before and after using. Always wear clean uniform when working at the galley/kitchen.
  2. Separate raw food from cooked foods. This is always done in order to avoid cross-contamination. Be careful with salad ingredients, especially lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, olives that are all susceptible to contamination.
  3. Cook the food thoroughly. Remember the DANGER ZONE in cooking. Room temperature of about 26 to 28 degrees Celsius is considered to be dangerous. Never let cooked dishes stand for two hours on the table after cooking. Better refrigerate it to slow down contamination. 5 C up to 60 C is considered to be in danger zone. It's always safe to cook food at 70 C up in order to kill harmful bacteria.
  4. Maintain a clean surrounding when preparing and serving food. Avoid pets from wandering inside the food preparation area.
  5. Use clean water and fresh ingredients. Expired goods should not be used when cooking meals. It will lead to food-borne illnesses or food poisoning.

Separate raw ingredients, like fish, from vegetables or cooked dish to avoid contamination (Photo by Travel Man)
Separate raw ingredients, like fish, from vegetables or cooked dish to avoid contamination (Photo by Travel Man)
Spices (onion, garlic, ginger) with tomatoes and miso (Photo by Travel Man)
Spices (onion, garlic, ginger) with tomatoes and miso (Photo by Travel Man)

Food Safety on Local Manufacturers

The Philippine Code on Sanitation for Food Establishments is based from the recommended procedures by World health Organization (WHO) compiled into implemented guidelines, otherwise known as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) System.

The HACCP System started way back the 60s in the United States of America, where small business companies were given standards in producing local goods that are safe for consumption by the residents and the country as a whole.

It is now adopted all over the world. Here in the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) through its link agencies, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) is strictly following its rules and regulations, starting from the production, handling and processing and distribution of food products.

Food cart outlets in the local food industry, is one sources of food-borne illnesses here in the Philippines (Photo by Travel Man)
Food cart outlets in the local food industry, is one sources of food-borne illnesses here in the Philippines (Photo by Travel Man)


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    • travel_man1971 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ireno Alcala 

      4 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Jamsmeetk: Thanks for knowing the importance of this hub.

    • Jasmeetk profile image

      Jasmeet Kaur 

      4 years ago from India

      interesting hub. Thanks for sharing

    • travel_man1971 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ireno Alcala 

      6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Pamela99: Thanks for appreciating this hub, Ms. Pam. I've shared it because it's important to know what really is happening in the catering department in many business establishments especially in food business or manufacturing.

      By making it public, people are now aware on where to choose their ingredients or the food products that they'll buy and consume at home.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I think this is an interesting and important hub as how food is handled can definitely affect our health. You covered the most important aspects of food handling very well.


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