Thanks to television and platforms like Home Chef Matters, cooking is not limited to as an hobby today. The community of home chefs is growing and how. Many have taken it commercially and have been successful too, this in turn is encouraging newbies to follow suit. But starting a commercial set up requires home chefs to ensure food safety standards are maintained. Elaborating on the importance of food safety standards, Prajakkta Parab, food safety consultant at the event added “Food safety measures not only monitor and control potential health hazards, but good practices also help minimise food waste and boost efficiency. These measures will also enable savings in the long run.”
So what are the preventive measures to ensure food safety? The food safety considerations that home chefs need to know include regular washing of hands before handling food, keeping raw materials separate from processed food etc. Prajakkta Parab, food safety consultant, shared 5 tips:
The risk of food poisoning from food remains a threat because of microbiological contamination. When purchasing, one should select fresh vegetables and fruits which are firm, crisp and bright in colour, with no signs of decay. Poor conditions of storage of raw vegetables, exposure to pests and insects are some of the factors of food contamination. “For packed foods like cereals and pulses, check for ‘expiry date’/ ‘best before’ /’use by’ date. Damaged packaging can expose food to physical or microbiological contamination. Do not buy dented or puffed cans or tins. Fruits and vegetables that are overripe and shrivelled should not be purchased,” informs Parab.
The government of India has created essential certification marks for food safety. All processed and packaged fruit products are mandated to be certified with Fruit Products Order (FPO Mark), which guarantees the product was manufactured in a hygienic environment. This certification is mandatory for canned and bottled fruits, jams, jellies, squashes, crushes and so on. “Look out for food items that bear certification marks like FPO ensuring that the product is fit for consumption,” Parab advises.
Hygienic handling and storage of prepared foods are essential to prevent contamination. Proper rotation of all raw materials should be undertaken on FIFO (First in First Out), FEFO (First Expired First Out) and FMFO (First Manufactured First Out) basis. According to FSSI guidelines, raw pastes and sauces should be stored in properly covered containers made of food-grade materials and checked regularly for fungal growth and deterioration. There is a general belief that food items can be stored in a freezer for an indefinite period. But over time, even chilled foods will spoil. The storage temperature of frozen food should be -18 degree C or below. Raw meat and poultry must be stored separately from other foods — especially from cooked meat and poultry.
FSSAI has banned both the use of recycled plastics and the use of newspapers for wrapping food items per the new packaging regulations. “Packaging material should not release chemicals into the food at quantities that can harm human health,” says Parab. Plastic free kitchen is the way to go and Parab suggests opting for alternatives like muslin cloth or buttering paper to pack parathas and chapatis and stainless steel containers to store food.
Good personal hygiene can prevent food poisoning. Food handlers can carry pathogens on their hands, skin and hair. “Hair should be neatly tied and covered. Food handlers must wear clean apron and gloves while handling food. Use a separate spoon for tasting,” she elaborates. The other safety measures to adopt in the home kitchen include wiping counters clean, use separate chopping boards for vegetables and meat and wash hands thoroughly before and after handling raw meat.
Are your food safety measures good enough? Let us know in the comments below.