Archive for the ‘Food Safety Articles’ Category

How safe is the food you’re eating? Do you know what went into it? According to a January 9, 2009 article by Sarah Hills of The Food Navigator, titled, “Food Terrorism Tops 2009 Safety Scare List”, she quotes her source, Bill Marler as saying, “Food safety will be a major concern for President-elect Barack Obama after his inauguration this month, and it is a vital part of the overall health of our country and our economy.

Mr. Maler, who is a food safety advocate and managing partner of the law firm Marler/Clark, represents the victims of food-borne illness outbreaks, and is claiming that there has been a continued rise of the potentially fatal bug, E. Coli. According to his firm, economic terrorism and deadly strains of E. Coli are among the main food supply issues that manufacturers could face in the United States in 2009.

According to this article, Mr. Maler continues to say, “Top of the list (of issues Obama will need to deal with) is the globalization of the food supply, including the possibility of economic or chemical terrorism…which is the intentional adulteration of the food supply…” He adds, “This year there will be more international recalls and outbreaks due to the expanding globalization of the food supply.” There will be more “challenges of oversight/infrastructure in developing countries, which include bioterroism, where harmful biological substances are intentionally used to create widespread illness and fear, as well as economic/chemical terrorism.” He also predicted outbreaks linked to local food and/or farmers markets and more contamination events involving the whole food chain, from animal feed, to animals, to humans. Mr. Maler goes on to say, “The new Obama administration will be facing enormous challenges.” These statements mirror another sensational statement made by Joe Biden back in October of 2008, when he said that, “Obama would have to undergo an ordeal during his first six months of his presidency. And that is would be the time of a very serious international crisis!” Although a cryptic remark, what was he eluding to? No one really knows, but the potential of a biological attack on our food supply is plausible.

According to French and Israeli intelligence reports, if America goes to war with Iran, “they” can expect a swift retaliation against the remaining American food supply by Iranian agents. The former U.S. Health Secretary, Tommy Thompson, worried about this before leaving office in 2003, when he stated, “I, for the life of me, cannot understand why terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do.”

The possibility of bio-attacks upon the American food supply is becoming an all too real scenario! We must take action and prepare for these possibilities… in our families and communities. We need to be obtaining and consuming healthy foods if we’re to be fit enough to survive what may come.

In order to know that the food we are consuming is healthy food, we must know where it came from, and what went into it. Also, the more “processed” a food, the less likely it will contain any real food value. This doesn’t even take into account food which has been purposefully contaminated. Therefore, when in doubt, choose food which has been less tampered with, for example, raw food.

Another solution is to grow your own food and can or preserve the food you have raised. This way, you know exactly what you are getting. In this way, you can assure yourself and your family of getting the most nutritious food possible. Plus, you might have extra to barter with, give away, or sell.

The bottom line is this: To the degree that we can control exactly what goes into the food we are eating, is the degree that we can remain unaffected by any food contamination going on around us–whether accidental or on purpose.

So, lets get involved in becoming the fittest we can be–and not leave it up to somebody else. This way we can be assured of “surviving” come what may.

C.L. Carr has been living off the grid and practicing self-sufficiency for many years. For tips and guidelines pertaining to the issues addressed in this article and many other, please visit or

What is food poisoning? It is an acute illness, usually sudden, brought about by eating contaminated or poisonous food. The symptoms of food poisoning are:

1.nausea a queasy feeling as if you were about to be sick
2.sickness vomiting
3.Pains in the bowl gripping pains in the area of the stomach
5. Fever

The main causes of food poisoning are:

1.Bacteria the commonest
2.Viruses which are smaller than bacteria, are normally found in water
3.Chemicals Insecticides and weed-killers
4.Metals lead pipes, copper pans
5. Poisonous plants toadstools, red kidney beans (insufficiently cooked)

Bacteria is the most common form of food poisoning and so it is important that we know more about them. Bacteria are tiny bugs that live in the air, in water, in soil, on and in people, in and on food. Some bacteria causes illness. They are called PATHOGENIC bacteria. Some bacteria cause food to rot and decay, they are called SPOILAGE bacteria. There are four things that bacteria need in order to grow. These are:

Warmth. They love body temperature of 73 degrees but can happily grow at 15 degrees.. They grow most readily between 5c and 63c. This is known as the DANGER ZONE

Time. Each bacteria grows by splitting in half. This takes time, on average every 20 minutes. This is known as BINARY FISSION. Imagine, one single bacterium by splitting in half every ten minutes can become more than a million in 3 and a half hours.

Food. They like high protein foods for example, poultry, cooked meat, dairy produce, shellfish, cooked rice, stews and gravies.
Moisture. They need water and most foods have enough water or moisture to let the bacteria thrive.

Some bacteria can form a hard protective case around themselves, this is called a SPORE. This happens when the ‘going gets tough’, when it gets too hot or too dry. So they are able to survive very hot or cold temperatures and can even be present in dried foods. Once the right conditions (5 – 63c) return, the spore comes out of its protective casing and becomes a growing, food poisoning bacteria again.

Bacteria and food poisoning

We have established that the presence of bacteria is one of the most common causes of food poisoning the presence of poisonous chemicals can also cause food poisoning. There are a number of potentially toxic chemicals present in food. For example, potatoes which have turned green contain the toxic substance, Solanine, which is only dangerous when eaten in excess.
Rhubarb contains Oxalic Acid the amounts present in the stems which are normally cooked are relatively harmless to humans, but the higher concentration in the leaves makes them very dangerous to eat.

A toxin is a poisonous substance that may be produced by the metabolism of a plant or animal, especially certain bacteria. Toxic food poisoning is mainly caused by Staphylococci in the UK and more rarely in this country, Clostridium Botulinum.

Foods most commonly affected by Staphylococci are:

Meat pies
Sliced meats
Pies with gravy
Synthetic cream

50-60% of people carry Staphylococci in their noses and throats and are present in nasal secretions following a cold. Staphylococci are also present in skin wounds and infections and find their way into foods via the the hands of an infected food handler. Hence the importance of keeping all wounds and skin conditions covered. Although staphylococci are themselves readily destroyed by thorough cooking or re-heating, the toxin which they produce is often much more heat-resistant and may need a higher temperature or longer cooking time for its complete destruction.


Food poisoning from Clostridium botulinum known as botulism is extremely serious. This produces a life-threatening toxin which is the most virulent poison known. Foods most commonly affected by clostridium botulinum are:

Inadequately processed canned meat, vegetables and fish.
During the commercial canning process, every care is taken to ensure that each part of the food is heated to a high enough temperature to ensure complete destruction of any clostridium botulinum spores that may be present.

YEASTS & MOULDS microscopic organisms some of which are desirable in food and contribute to its characteristics. For example, ripening of cheese, bread fermentation etc. They are simple plants which appear like whiskers on food. To grow they require warmth, moisture and air. They are killed by heat and sunlight. Moulds can grow where there is too little moisture for yeasts and bacteria to grow. Yeasts are single celled plants or organisms larger than bacterial, that grow on foods containing moisture and sugar. Foods containing a small percentage of sugar and a large amount of liquid such as fruit juices and syrups are liable to ferment because of yeasts. Yeasts are destroyed by heat.

VIRUS microscopic particles transmitted by food which may cause illness. For example, Hepatitis A (jaundice). Unlike bacteria, viruses cannot multiply or grow in food.

PROTOZOA single celled organisms which live in water and are responsible for serious diseases such as malaria, usually spread by infected mosquitoes and dysentery. These food-borne infections are mostly caught abroad.

ESCHERICHIA COLI E Coli is a normal part of the intestines of man and animals. It is found in human excreta and raw meat. E Coli causes abdominal pain, fever, diarrhoea and vomiting. High standards of hygiene and through cooking of foods must be applied. Raw and cooked meat must be stored at correct temperature and cross contamination must be avoided.

SALMONELLA is present in the intestines of animals and human beings. Foods affected include poultry, meat, eggs and shellfish. Prevention should include:

good standards of personal hygiene
elimination of insects and rodents.
washing hands and equipment and surfaces after handling raw poultry
not allowing carriers of the disease to handle food.

Control of Bacteria

There are three methods of controlling bacteria:

1.Protect food from bacteria in the air by keeping foods covered. To prevent cross contamination, use separate boards and knives for cooked and uncooked foods Use different coloured boards for particular foods. For example, red for meat, blue for fish, yellow for poultry etc. Store cooked and uncooked foods separately. Wash your hands frequently.
2.Do not keep foods in the danger zone of between 5c and 63c for longer than absolutely necessary.
3.To kill bacteria, subject bacteria to a temperature of 77c for 30 seconds or a higher temperature for less time. Certain bacteria develop into spores and can withstand higher temperatures for longer periods of time. Certain chemicals also kill bacteria and can be used for cleaning equipment and utensils.

The main food hygiene regulations of importance to the caterer are: Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995 and Food Safety (Temperature Control) Regulations 1995. These implemented the EC Food Hygiene directive (93/43 EEC). They replaced a number of different regulations including the Food Safety (General) Regulations of 1970. The 1995 Regulations are similar in many respects to earlier regulations. However, as with the Health & Safety legislation, these regulations place a strong emphasis on owners and managers to identify the safety risks, to design and implement appropriate systems to prevent contamination, these systems and procedures are covered by Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) and/or Assured Safe Catering. The regulations place two general requirements on owners of food businesses:

To ensure that all food handling operations are carried out hygienically and according to the ‘Rules of Hygiene’.
To identify and control all potential food safety hazards, using a systems approach either HACCP or Assured Safe Catering.
In addition, there is an obligation on any food handler who may be suffering from or carrying a disease which could be transmitted through food to report this to the employer who may be obliged to prevent the person concerned from handling food. Catering establishments have a general obligation to supervise and instruct and provide training in food safety & hygiene commensurate with their employees’ responsibilities. Details with regard to how much training is required, are not specified in the regulations. However, HMSO Industry Guide to Catering provides guidance on training which can be taken as a general standard to comply with legislation.
Prevention of food poisoning

Almost all food poisoning can be prevented by:

complying with the rules of hygiene
taking care and thinking head
ensuring that high standards of cleanliness are applied to premises and equipment
preventing accidents
high standards of personal hygiene
physical fitness
maintaining good working conditions
maintaining equipment in good repair and clean condition
using separate equipment and knives for cooked and uncooked foods
ample provision of cleaning facilities and equipment
storing foods at the right temperature
safe reheating of foods
quick cooling of foods prior to storage
protection of foods from vermin and insects;
hygienic washing-up procedures;
Knowing how food poison is caused
carrying out procedures to prevent food poisoning.

This has been just a brief overview of food safety. If you are in the catering trade or are planning do become a cook or chef, it is essential that you learn all there is to know about the subject. The following links should help to fill the gaps.

Essentially, you need to know the Food Regulations appertaining to your own country. Its pointless following the Food Safety Regulations of the UK if you live or work in Australia, Spain or New Zealand.

Google (Food Print Article Sal Rastegar) Food Safety Magazine

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Free online Food Safety Manager practice exam. This website also offer a hospitality specific job search engine, free articles, and links to official ServSafe study guides.
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