Food Safety

Food safety is the study of different approaches and strategies that will help to ensure that foods are safe for human consumption. It takes into account the way the food was handled, stored and prepared. Another term for food safety is food sanitation, which starts as soon as the raw food product is purchased and ends with the proper storage (refrigeration or freezing) of leftovers that are put away for future use. Food safety rules are mainly observed in restaurants or other public food handling facilities, but should also be practiced in every private kitchen.

Food safety is the scientific area that studies how to prevent food-borne illnesses that result from the mishandling, improper preparation and improper storage of foods. Food safety entails conducting routine checks in order to avoid potential health hazards. It is very difficult to totally eliminate any health and safety hazards, but it is possible to minimize and control the spread of any hazards. This can be accomplished with the right knowledge of food safety.

Health hazards mainly stem from cross-contamination. Contamination is the transferring of harmful materials or elements to foods or from one food to another. There are three types of contamination that can occur in the handling of food.

• Physical contamination – This type of contamination comes from the physical contact between the contaminated item and the food. These contaminants can include, hair, plastic, wood, insects, etc.

• Chemical contamination – This type of contamination comes from various chemical products such as pesticide residues, cleaning materials, etc.

• Microbiological contamination – This is contamination that can come from airborne bacteria such as mould spores, yeast spores and food poisoning bacteria.

Any food that has not been safely and properly prepared may contain the bacteria known as e-coli, which are potentially deadly. Unsafe food may also contain salmonella. These and other potentially harmful bacteria can be kept in check if proper food safety rules are practiced.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a list of recommended food safety regulations. These pertain to its cooking, handling and storage.

Regarding the cooking: fish, meat or poultry bought fresh should be cooked within two days of purchase, and bought frozen should be be cooked immediately after thawing. The frozen items should be thawed in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. Solid cuts of meat should be cooked until the internal temperature reaches at least 145°F (63°C), while ground beef or chicken should be cooked until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). Make sure all foods are thoroughly cooked.

When it comes to handling the foods there are also a number of instructions. All fruits and vegetables should be washed with water in order to remove dirt residues, pesticides or bacterial contamination. Hands must also be washed with soap before handling food, and after raw meat, poultry or fish have been handled. Cutting boards

used for raw meat, poultry or fish must be cleaned before using them for other foods, and the former foods must not be placed on the same dish with cooked foods.

Lastly, the storage. It is advised to refrigerate leftovers immediately after the meal. If food is left over for a considerable amount of time at room temperature, bacteria will begin to grow and multiply rendering the dish a potential food poisoning disaster. Place all the leftovers in glass or plastic containers with lids that fit on tightly; and if not eaten within 3-4 days of cooking, they should be frozen, in small portions, easier to thaw and not requiring the thawing of the whole bowl which may not be finished. When storing leftovers in plastic containers for freezing, do not fill the bowls entirely to the top, since food when frozen expands and the expansion may cause the lid to come off. Always leave half an inch of space. Do not keep leftovers frozen for longer than two months. Uncooked fruits or vegetables, mayonnaise or hard-boiled eggs must never be frozen. Also, the FDA recommends to never re-freeze leftovers.

Exercising proper food safety will not only ensure good health, but also goes a long way in helping to save money. When foods are properly prepared in a clean environment and stored in the correct fashion, they will last longer in the freezer and when thawed will taste better and have the right texture. If these foods are enjoyed after they were frozen, it helps keep the food budget down.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Environmental Regulation and Food Safety: Studies of Protection and Protectionism
Veena Jha; Edward Elgar.
International Development Research Center, 2005
French Beans and Food Scares: Culture and Commerce in An Anxious Age
Susanne Freidberg.
Oxford University Press, 2004
Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know
Robert Paarlberg.
Oxford University Press, 2010
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 13 "Food Safety and Genetically Engineered Food"
The Food Safety Information Handbook
Cynthia A. Roberts.
Oryx Press, 2001
Bountiful Harvest: Technology, Food Safety, and the Environment
Thomas R. Degregori.
Cato Institute, 2002
The Politics of Precaution: Regulating Health, Safety, and Environmental Risks in Europe and the United States
David Vogel.
Princeton University Press, 2012
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Food Safety and Agriculture"
Spoiled: The Dangerous Truth about a Food Chain Gone Haywire
Nicols Fox.
Basic Books, 1997
Food Safety and Security: What Tragedy Teaches Us about Our 100-Year-Old Food Laws
DeWaal, Caroline Smith.
Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 40, No. 4, October 2007
Food Safety Certification Regulations in the United States
Almanza, Barbara A.; Nesmith, Melissa S.
Journal of Environmental Health, Vol. 66, No. 9, May 2004
Reforming the Food Safety System: What If Consolidation Isn't Enough?
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Harvard Law Review, Vol. 120, No. 5, March 2007
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Food Safety Regulation in the United States: An Empirical and Theoretical Examination
Yasuda, Tomohide.
Independent Review, Vol. 15, No. 2, Fall 2010
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Public Goods, Hysteresis, and Underinvestment in Food Safety
Richards, Timothy J.; Nganje, William E.; Acharya, Ram N.
Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Vol. 34, No. 3, December 2009
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Study Finds Consumer Food Safety Knowledge Lacking
Godwin, Sandria; Coppings, Richard; Speller-Henderson, Leslie; Pearson, Lou.
Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, Vol. 97, No. 2, April 2005
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Persistence of Salmonella and E. Coli on the Surface of Restaurant Menus
Sirsat, Sujata A.; Choi, Jin-Kyung K.; Neal, Jack A.
Journal of Environmental Health, Vol. 75, No. 7, March 2013
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