Food apart from clothing and housing is one of the basic human needs. Our bodies need food to function properly. The food provides nutrients to the body to grow, develop, and survive. Food preparation involves procuring food in its natural & native form and cooking it to enhance its flavors. It is very important to prepare food in the right way as food can become a feeding ground or, as some say, a playing ground for microbes to grow and spoil it when handled incorrectly. If the right measures are not taken, when handling preparing, cooking, or storing the food, it can lead to food spoilage or poisoning, and most of the time, the spoilage is not visible to the naked eye. This food, when consumed, can be harmful to the body, causing food-borne illness and diseases.
With various lifestyle factors, eating out has become an eternal part of everyone’s life. Most customers would visit a restaurant by trusting the food prepared, and as a responsible food business owner, it is essential that the food served to customers is prepared properly. Food business practice owners and operators must follow best food production and hygiene practices to prevent food-borne illnesses. The spoilage can occur at any stage, right from the point of procurement to the point it is served to the customer.
General rules for pre – Food Preparation
During food procurement, the different ingredients are handled by many people, right from vendors selling the raw food items to the one at the commercial kitchen who cooks the food. This makes the raw material subject to many germs that can cause allergies and stomach issues to those who are consuming it. This is why it’s important to scrutinize the received food item. If found in rot or spoiled form, visibly discolored, the receiving department should not accept them. Common indicators of food spoilage would be:
- Vegetables not feeling firm
- Cheese showing different color hue
- Meat product having a strong off smell and odors.
Washing Foods and Hand
Once food products reach the kitchen for preparation, food handlers must ensure that they wash their hands before touching the food. Washing and drying hands thoroughly is an essential food preparation protocol to get rid of germs and invisible viruses that are unsafe for health. It is also important to wash the hands after touching the raw materials. Additionally, kitchen surfaces, chopping boards, knives, and any other cooking equipment or clothes that may come in contact with the food directly or indirectly are also clean. Both personal hygiene and kitchen hygiene are of utmost importance for the proper preparation of the food.
Ensure food products are cleaned and washed well to remove dust, bacteria, pesticide remains, and chemicals. To prevent any kind of cross-contamination, wash and store poultry products separately. Meats, seafood, and dairy products, all fruits and veggies are prone to contamination due to viruses and toxins, which can cause food-borne allergies.
Again as a basic rule, never store fresh produce with farm produce or seafood. Use separate utensils and other kitchen equipment to prevent cross-contamination.
Recommended: Five common foodborne illnesses caused by improper food handling
Cooking Temperatures & Storage
It is essential to keep meat products, dairy, seafood, and vegetables all in separate storage sections to prevent cross-contamination. Cold storage and deep freezers, walk-in chillers should have the right temperature. Cooking should be carried in the right temperatures with hot food to be served hot and cold food to be served cold.
Also, storage temperatures should be kept in mind while storing the food items. Food items should have appropriate labels clearly showing the receipt date and must be stored in temperature-controlled environments. The requisite staff must have complete knowledge. This will prevent the growth and spread of harmful bacteria which cause food poisoning. When food is not stored at the correct temperature, it leads to the growth and spread of bacteria which in turn cause stomach infections and food poisonings. To lower the risks of food poisoning and food allergies. It is important that food is prepared and stored according to their respective temperatures.
Cross-contamination occurs when the bacteria or germs pass from one food onto another. Cross-contamination mainly occurs when the raw foods are not separated properly. To prevent cross-contamination, separate chopping boards, slicers, knives, and cooking utensils should be in place for the different food types. Never mix raw and uncooked food with cooked or ready-to-eat food. Also, all the packaging materials should be thrown right after the meat or fish products are taken out. As a standard rule, no packaging material should be reused as this can cause cross-contamination and cause food spoilage.
Avoid Food-Borne Illness
If the food is not properly prepared, it leads to cross-contamination and food-borne illnesses. To prevent food-borne illness, it is imperative that the chef and the assisting team members use sterilized utensils or those cleaned using correct cleaning solutions. Sanitization of utensils with boiled water or a chlorine-based solution should be a regular practice in cooking areas. A proper cleaning routine should be carried out to keep the crawling and flying insects at bay to prevent food contamination.
It is imperative that at every stage of food preparation, hygiene rules are followed to eliminate cross-contamination. Right from the stage of procurement, ensure that each food type is placed separately, stored in separate walk-in freezers. Or refrigerators based on their temperatures and prepared in different utensils. These basic principles will ensure that the food is prepared correctly and served well to the clients. Also, you can join the Utah food certification course Where you get to learn every stage of food preparation.