Why Food Safety is ImportantNovember 14, 2014

You don't need to pursue a degree in Food Science to know food safety. In case you're unobservant of what is going on in your own home, these precautionary measures are meant to ensure you're in good health. In most cases, human illness is due to unhygienic practices. We're not invincible to disease-causing microorgnisms.

The Australian Food Safety Week (November 9-16) stresses the importance of good manners on the table to make sure children won't get ill. They can get sick, as they don't know that microorganism are everywhere. No need to panic yet. It will be nice to arrange a field trip to the food plant, to show why there's a need to eat a food when they're hot (or cold). But the operation might bore them (unless it resembles Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory). We can do it at school, which is better. We can try to make fun of it, but there's a need to be earnest. Here are the reasons:

The hands carry lots of microorganisms. Students are too young to understand microbiology, so let us put it this way. There are good germs and there are bad germs. The human body needs good germs. It also has an immune system, which enables to fight bad germs. But too much of anything can be harmful to the body. The hands get in direct contact with anything, and in many cases, we have no idea which places have bacteria. It's important to teach children the importance of washing their hands, especially before meal time. If possible, always keep those hands clean.

Don't eat that food on the floor. Any place you step on is dirty. Don't let the sight of a tidy place deceive you. Even if the food has been there for a few seconds. (No need for a laboratory test to prove it.) Better be safe than sorry.

Food must be hot or cold. Microorganisms don't thrive on extreme temperature. This is the reason why you need to heat your food or store it in the refrigerator. If you neither keep it hot nor cold, then make sure you consume it right away. (Microorganisms thrive on room temperature.) As for fruits and vegetables, you know when it's no longer good for consumption (hint: Browning reaction).

Always keep your surroundings clean. We've been taught to clean the dining table after a meal, to wash the dishes, and to make sure there are no litter in the kitchen. There's a tendency to slouch when are too many tasks in a day. Nothing wrong if you choose to do it on a later time, but this shouldn't happen often. Think of it as urgent. It will never be a household chore once you get used to it.

Read. Ignorance is not an excuse, so do an online research on food safety. Better yet, ask anyone if they know any food scientist. (No one's pulling your leg.)

You have more ideas? We'll be stoked to hear it.

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