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WHAT IS FOOD SAFETY AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO ME?

The food in South Africa’s restaurants and various other eateries is clearly among the safest in the world. However, when certain disease-causing bacteria or pathogens contaminate food, they can cause foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning.” Each year in the USA these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.


Since foodborne illness can be serious — or even fatal — it is important for you to know and practice safe food handling behaviours in your food business to help reduce your risk of accidentally poisoning someone from contaminated food – and even more so now that the Consumer Protection Act is fast becoming a reality.


Some people are at a higher risk than others for developing foodborne illness. These include pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems. There are all sorts of training materials available for you off of this website to help you learn these things.


There are basically 4 steps to food safety


1. Clean: wash hands and surfaces often

Bacteria can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops and food.


2. Separate: separate raw meats from other foods

Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria are spread from one food product to another – generally by us, the food handlers! This is especially common when handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. The key is to keep these foods—and their juices—away from ready-to-eat foods.


3. Cook: cook to the right temperatures

Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature – around 76°c - to kill the harmful bacteria that cause illness. Pop over to the free downloads and download the safe cooking temperatures chart for the proper internal temperatures of different foods.


4. Chill: refrigerate foods promptly

Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Do not over-fill the refrigerator – the cold air must be allowed to circulate to keep food safe. Keeping a constant refrigerator temperature of 4°c or below is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Use a probe thermometer to monitor that the temperature is consistently there or below and the freezer temperature is -18°C or below.


In Graham’s case, he very nearly lost his life to a food handler borne illness when a food handler in a kitchen coughed in his face and gave him a life threatening dose of Candida albicans. It was five months before he could walk again. This is what motivated Graham to develop Food Safety in South Africa and devote his life to training people so that it did not – if he could help it – happen again to anyone else. Watch the video here.


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