For the Love of Food Safety


For the Love of Food Safety

Marshalee Valentine

Thursday, February 13, 2020

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Love is in the air as Valentine's Day approaches, and whether you decide to dine out or prepare a decadent meal at home for your significant other, unsafe food-handling practices and choices can result in a sour end to what could have been a romantic night. Here are some tips that will help to ensure your romantic night does not end with a trip to the emergency room.

Dining Out

• Many of you have started to scout out your favourite restaurants and probably even already started making reservations to secure your date. However, to ensure you have made the right dining choice, check to ensure that your restaurant has approval from the Public Health Department as a hygienic space to dine; you can't miss it, every restaurant must have this pink certificate visible to the public.

• Because it may be a hassle to check for this on your special date night, I suggest you visit your chosen place of dining prior to February 14 and do a pre-assessment. If you do this, you should also take note of whether or not the restaurant, utensils and employees are hygienic.

• The night will be very busy for most restaurants and they may be inclined to rush things to make sure all guests are tended to. However, you must check your chosen menu items to ensure they are fully cooked and your meal is hot when you receive it, especially your meat, poultry and fish. If not, send it back.

• If you plan on having oysters for Valentine's Day go for the cooked option to be safe, as raw oysters can be contaminated with a variety of food-borne pathogens such as E coli, norovirus and Vibrio vulnificus. Let's be honest, you would rather be cuddling the morning after rather than dealing with dehydration from vomiting and diarrhoea.

• While making the reservation and upon being seated, be sure to alert your server to any allergies you or your date may have. And please, try to avoid seafood restaurants if you are allergic to shellfish.

• If you decide to take home a doggie bag, only do so if you will be going home to refrigerate within two hours. Additionally, do not consume these leftovers after two days.

• And don't forget to wash your hands before and after you eat.

Dining In

If you decide to go low-key this Valentine's Day with a home-cooked surprise, make sure you practise safe food handling.

• Ensure all utensils, countertops, and cutting boards are washed with warm water before, during and after food preparation. You can make a sanitiser for your cutting boards and countertops with water and bleach. If cloth towels are used to clean surfaces, please keep them clean; however, you could opt to use paper towels for cleaning up.

• Wash hands thoroughly before you begin preparing your meal; if you take a break to do anything outside of the kitchen, wash your hands before you resume.

• If you decide to cook multiple courses with different ingredients, don't forget to separate raw meat, poultry and fish from produce and ready-to-eat foods. Do not let the juices from raw meat, poultry or fish drain on your ready-to-eat foods. If possible, use a separate cutting board to prepare meat. Never use the same cutting board used to prepare raw foods to prepare ready-to-eat foods, such as salads, unless you sanitise.

• Don't forget to boil that raw meat sauce you use to marinate for at least a minute before putting it on your cooked meat.

• Keep a food thermometer on hand and ensure cooking temperatures are adhered to. Remember, the thickest part of your foods must reach an internal temperature of 165F or higher. Whole cuts of meat and seafood should have an internal temperature of 145F, while ground meats must be at a safe internal temperature of 160F.

• Do you plan on baking? If so, do just that and ensure all your desserts are baked to an internal temperature of at least 160F to kill harmful bacteria, especially if you use cream and eggs. Avoid “no bake” recipes on your special night.

• Before you end the night in cuddles, place leftovers in clean airtight 2''-deep containers. Ensure this is done within two hours of cooking.

Marshalee Valentine, CEO/Lead Consultant Compliance Management Systems email: skype: marshalee.valentine

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