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Sanitation in Food

There are three main types of hazards or contaminants that can cause unsafe food: Biological, chemical, and physical. Biological includes microorganisms; chemical includes cleaning solvents and pest control; and physical means hair, dirt, or other matter.

In our research, we’ve come up with five frequently mentioned sanitation tips to prevent foodborne illnesses in food service and retail businesses. They are:

  1. Proper personal hygiene, including frequent hand and arm washing and covering cuts;
  2. Proper cleaning and sanitizing of all food contact surfaces and utensils;
  3. Proper cleaning and sanitizing of food equipment;
  4. Good basic housekeeping and maintenance; and
  5. Food storage for the proper time and at safe temperatures.

Proper employee education and training, as well as monitoring and record-keeping by management of clean and sanitation tasks, also are important, according to Joshua Katz, PhD, new director of the Food Marketing Institute’s Food Safety Programs in Arlington, Va.

But while procedures and training can be put in place, their effectiveness depends on how they are enforced. One way is to apply public pressure to those with cleanliness issues, says Klein. “The Center for Science in the Public Interest makes the results of the health department inspections more public. We believe the transparency of those results…will serve as an incentive.”

Klein says restaurants need to bear some responsibility for the periodic training of employees and oversight. “They need to ensure materials that explain the responsibilities of employees are available to them in multiple languages, English, Spanish, Chinese, and that there are visual cues, such as hand washing signs above the wash sink.” Some chains, such as Clyde’s Restaurant Group, have periodic hand-washing competitions as a built-in incentive for cleanliness, she says. One company that is known for its sanitation controls is McDonald’s, adds Klein. “Those types of entities are keeping control of their brand.”

While there are no national food safety standards that can be imposed on restaurants and supermarkets serving food, Klein would like to see a mandatory nationwide adoption of the most recent FDA Food Code (2009).


 
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