Tag Archive for 'Food contamination'

Kitchen Cleaners: Chemical Versus Natural

kitchenThere’s nothing people love inside of their homes more than a cosy, clean kitchen environment. Kitchens take a lot of work and upkeep for sanitary eating surfaces, clean eating utensils and most importantly, healthy foods.

When it comes down to what products to use when cleaning your kitchen, confusion follows as to whether natural cleaning products or chemical cleaning products are the safest ways to keep the kitchen spotless.

The Truth About Chemicals

Just because a product is called, ‘Natural’ doesn’t make it a true product consisting only from earth’s soil or even safe, for that matter. Some of the most natural things in life can actually be some of the world’s most toxic chemicals! Think about curare, snake venom and belladonna – totally natural yet totally deadly.

The same philosophy goes for commonly used household products such as pesticides, detergents and cleaning solutions that contain harmful chemicals. They clean great but are also very hazardous for you and your family’s health, not to mention the environment.

Formaldehyde is found as the top ingredient in some of the most popular kitchen cleaning products used to sanitise your kitchen. Remember high school Biology and what liquid the scientific animals used for dissection sat in? That’s right!

When formaldehyde is present in products that contain preservatives, the dangers become even more toxic when itdangerous-chemicals comes in direct contact with human parts of the body. This toxic ingredient commonly used in kitchen cleaners can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, lungs and throat which can also lead to human carcinogen.

Other ingredients found within kitchen cleaning solutions may contain cresol and phenol, which are corrosive in nature and may cause dizziness and diarrhoea in the user, not to mention, liver or kidney damage.

Something extremely important to remember when cleaning with toxic chemicals is to NEVER mix chlorine bleach with ammonia! What happens with this concoction is that the sodium hypochlorite present in the bleach releases chloramine gas may lead to asthmatic symptoms and other breathing related problems.

Because of all these dangerous and potential side effect, many people are swaying over to the more natural cleaning products, however, is the ‘natural’ label on these products actually natural or are they the same, synthetically manufactured materials?

Some people actually believe the natural products used to clean kitchens are safer to humans as well as the environment but the truth is that they could possibly be running the risk of food poisoning by not being able to thoroughly clean leftover bacteria in the kitchen. It then becomes an ongoing debacle – are toxic cleansers that rid of all bacteria safer than natural cleansers that leave traces of deadly bacteria behind?

This risky dilemma results in no completely positive answer either way. The underlying answer remains, at best, within the full knowledge on the cleaning products you use and common sense when using them.

To keep a safely disinfected kitchen in your home without using all of the harsh and hazardous chemicals, the best option is to look for kitchen cleaners that have natural antibacterial properties. The operative word is ANTIBACTERIAL and surprisingly, most people already have many of these all-natural cleaning products already in your kitchen!

How To Replace Harsh Chemical Disinfectants With Natural Ingredients

Many popular chemical cleaning products are popular because they come with labels that state their products kill kitchen bacteria by 99.9% on surfaces such as sinks, faucet handles and kitchen counters. Because there’s no scientific data to always back that up, what some companies forget to add to their labels is that they’re unsure whether or not these disinfectants reduce incidences of infection.

imagesThere are, however, many non-chemical disinfectant cleaning products and techniques found inside of your kitchen that can kill and prevent the growth of the bacteria in the kitchen effectively without harmful chemicals that are quite easy to use. While these ingredients alone might not clear off all of the bacteria in a single swipe, when combined with other safe, natural products, they can significantly reduce the disease-causing bacteria in your kitchen.

Take a look at these ordinary household products that can be used as natural disinfectants and tips when using them:

  • Ordinary household vinegar – Vinegar is a very effective cleaner that prevents the growth of bacteria. This is an excellent antibacterial kitchen cleanser, especially if you happen to have apple cider vinegar lying in your cupboards. If you don’t have any regular or apple cider vinegar, distilled white vinegar can also be used.
  • Lemon juice – Lemon juice is another fantastic and completely natural cleaning product that fights effective against bacteria. Keeping kitchen surfaces in an acidic environment makes it very difficult for the bacteria to grow.
  • Bacteria-free sponge and some muscle – Sponges are great scrubbers that help to disinfect your kitchen by cleaning away the food debris that bacteria thrive on. To keep your sponges disinfected, wet them down and place them in the microwave on high for one minute each.
  • Baking soda – Usually found in refrigerators as an odour eliminator, this natural abrasive kitchen cleaner is great for removing baked-on dirt and other soils that are hard to remove. It absorbs odours in porous surfaces such as wood, carpeting or textiles.
  • Borax – This common household product is another natural cleaning powder, much like baking soda (but stronger) that acts as a kitchen disinfectant and stain remover. Borax is also used to kill mould and mildew spores while removing their stains making it great for mopping floors.
  • Tea tree oil – This natural, essential concentrated oil from the tea tree works as a natural disinfectant, removing mould and mildew while also working to remove build-up from dirty kitchen surfaces. It103059380’s completely nontoxic and perhaps a bit more expensive than other natural cleaning products but well worth the aromatic fragrance that will freshen up areas as you clean them.

While the perfectly safe kitchen cleaning formula hasn’t yet been created, taking these naturally, simple steps will make your kitchen a much cleaner, safer place for cooking and eating!

Disinfectants And Sanitisers: What’s the diff?

Disinfectants(1)When setting out to clean the kitchen, many people grab the closest cleaning agent without understanding the difference between disinfectants and sanitisers or knowing which one is used for the mess that needs to be wiped up.

The difference between the two is easiest enough to understand but sometimes tricky to remember. To help distinguish the two, just remember to keep it simple: Disinfectants STOP bacteria and sanitisers SLOW down bacteria.

The scientific reason behind the difference of disinfectants and sanitisers is the dilution. Disinfectants must have higher capability for killing pathogenic bacteria compared to that of a sanitiser.  According to EPA requirements a disinfectant must kill 99.99% or more of specified bacteria whereas sanitisers must kill at least 99.99% of three specified bacteria within a specified time period.

Disinfectants stop the growth of microorganisms (bacteria such as fungi, bacteria and viruses) on non-living surfaces in its place. The most powerful factor of disinfectants is the fact that it can actually kill these microorganisms when used properly and effectively! Because disinfectants are chemical agents that killing bacteria and also slow their return down, it’s best used for cleaning kitchen surfaces that meat, fish, poultry and eggs have been prepared on.

Sanitisers reduce the amount of microorganisms to a safe level but cannot kill them since they don’t contain that killer chemical agent that disinfectant does. This doesn’t mean that sanitisers aren’t effective or a great cleaning agent; instead, it’s better used for regular kitchen surfaces around the kitchen that raw poultry or other food-poisoning bacteria haven’t been exposed to.

In order to get the maximum effect out of sanitisers, it’s extremely important to first scrub down the surface with regular soap and hot water, dish detergents, ammonia-based cleaners and all-purpose cleaners.

Popular Types Of Disinfectants

Alcohol – Alcohol solutions are a base ingredient for many other disinfectants and great for disinfecting skin and decontaminating surfaces.  Alcohol is an excellent pathogen destroyer but it must be left in contact with surfaces for atdesinf2004eng least 20 minutes to be effective.

Aldehydes – All forms of aldehydes have different ways of working to disinfect surface areas as well as a wide range of germicidal activity that can be highly toxic to humans and animals.  It should only be used as a last resort and in a well ventilated area.

Ammonia – Ammonia is one of the most effective and fast working disinfecting products out there but can be extremely dangerous to the skin and the respiratory tract. This should NEVER be mixed with bleach since it will produce toxic fumes and can cause severe and sometimes fatal injuries.

Chlorhexidine – Because this agent isn’t irritating to skin, it’s a popular kitchen cleaner and is used for general surfaces and also commonly used for cleaning skin wounds.

Chlorine – Also known as bleach, chlorine is harsh but very effective. If used in an environment that is too hot, bleach can create toxic fumes, much like ammonia. In order to bleach kitchen surfaces in the safest and most effective way, make sure the temperature remains at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Popular Types Of Sanitisers

IodophorAcidic iodine-based sanitisers have a universal killing effect on all types of microbes but since the amount of active ingredients to achieve the same killing power as a disinfectant is lower in iodophors, the killing time is reduced.

Hypochlorites – At regular levels, hypochorites aren’t poisonous to the human body, yet, contain powerful germicides that can control a wide range of microbes. The downside is that it does contain a short shelf-life and can be corrosive on some metals or give off chlorine gas when mixed with acids.

litchen-cleaning-kleanway-550x300There are some multi-purpose cleaners now available that work as a sanitiser to slow bacteria down if left on the surface for a short period of time and then a bacteria-killing disinfectant if left on the surface for an extended amount of time. Regardless, always remember to first check your label to distinguish the two and read the directions for proper usage!

Now that you understand the difference between using disinfectants and sanitisers when cleaning a kitchen, grab that bottle of cleaner and scrub away to keep kitchens sparkly and everyone healthy!

Kitchen Bacteria

salmonella-bacteria-food-largeWhen people get a bacterial infection, antibiotics are used to kill harmful bacteria that are safe to the human body. For other bacteria found within food or contaminated surfaces and utensils, different methods, such as heat, UV radiation and chemicals are used to effectively control bacteria.

Methods used to kill bacteria and control it from spreading is known as microbial control which consists of three general categories:

  • Physical – heat, freeze-drying, ultraviolet radiation and filtration
  • Chemical – chemical agents like disinfectants Lysol or Clorox, destroy most vegetative cells
  • Chemotherapeutic – antibiotics used to treat patients diagnosed with an infectious disease

The most commonly known bacteria often found in the kitchen is called Salmonella. Salmonella bacteria are found inseparate158 raw meat, especially raw poultry eggs, unprocessed milk and surprisingly, chocolate! If consumed, these bacteria can cause many not-so-good sicknesses, otherwise known as, food borne illnesses. With over 2,000 different strains of Salmonella, all forms can result in unpleasant to serious symptoms of food poisoning if it’s not prevented beforehand.

Cutting down on the amount of Salmonella poisoning that enters the kitchen or gets spread across the countertops can be easily managed just by following a few simple steps:

  • Cook raw meat thoroughly to the proper temperature
  • Properly refrigerate and freeze food
  • Always thaw food in the refrigerator and never leave sitting out at room temperature
  • Separate raw meat and fish to keep them from touching each other or other food when shopping and storing
  • Keep cutting boards for raw meat and other food separate and stored in a different location so that you don’t mix up the cutting boards
  • Wash hands, utensils and kitchen surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water as soon as you’re finished touching raw meat to prevent bacteria from spreading

Having a clean kitchen is extremely important, whether it’s in the home or in a fine dining restaurant, it’s inevitable that raw meat will end up on kitchen counters, sinks and storage areas before getting cooked. Because of this, the safest and most effective methods of cleaning are needed to keep these kitchens cooking!

Disinfectants are one of the most popular AND most important chemicals used in kitchens because of the compound it Chef Cleaning Countercontains that destroys or inhibits the growth of bacteria. When disinfectants are applied to countertops, sinks, trashcans or other areas, its chemical reactions completely wipe out those little microbes.

Sterilisation is obviously the best way to sanitise anything but when talking about ingesting food, disinfectant is less extreme and much less likely to endanger people, pets and plants when applied the right way.

Different disinfectants do work differently than each other with some holding the potential to kill bacteria and others, to simply stunt its growth. That’s why it’s extremely important to know which type of disinfectant you’re buying before bringing it into your kitchen

While there are several types of these disinfectants out on the market, there are two basic types that most people are familiar with: Typical disinfectant and inhibitors. The difference between these two types is that your typical disinfectant stops the growth of bacteria by killing them and your inhibitors only prevent bacteria growth.

Much like taking antibiotics for too long can become ineffective to your immune system, disinfectants can also become less effective after prolonged use. Sometimes, a few bacteria escape the cleaning process and produce new populations resistant to the specific disinfectant.

cleaning-kitchenThese little fugitives can then develop altered genetic structure that allows it to survive additional antibiotic treatments which delves into a whole deal of science that only specialised scientists can fully understand!

The bottom line is, know your kitchen disinfectants and even more importantly, know how to use them because this will make ALL of the difference between delicious, healthy food and sickening, food poisoned food!

Dairy Safety

All of the world’s population are born into this world, surviving on their first beverage of choice: milk (minus, of course, those who are lactose intolerant). As people grow older, their dairy choices expand into different flavours of milk, cheese, ice cream and other related consumable foods and beverages.

Contrary to its innocent appearance, dairy is considered a perishable or high-risk food product. This means that for every item of dairy purchased, there are proper ways to store it and proper ways to handle it with special care.

Because foods bought and stored within food businesses are usually done so in bulk amounts, all high-risk food must be monitored closely and stored properly to prevent perishables from spoiling or worse, causing those dreaded cases of food poisoning.

when-i-have-milk

With such a large amount of different foods, ingredients, cookware and people to always be aware of in an industrial kitchen, the overall thought can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming to employees. By keeping the biggest and most important points in the front of your mind, though, it will help keep track of the smaller but equally important rules of thumb.

Try following these important tips to help in remembering what to do when handling dairy products:

  • Keep out of the danger zone: Bacteria that causes food poisoning grows and multiplies the fastest in temperatures that run between 5 degrees Celsius and 60 degrees Celsius.
  • Never assume the expiration date: All dairy products come with an expiration date printed on the container – ALWAYS check this date before purchasing dairy product and before using them for consumption!
  • Keep dairy products away from the freezer: (See the danger zone above) There is a common misconception that the freezer keeps everything fresh. While it works for certain food groups, dairy is definitely not one of them! Freezing dairy products creates an oasis for bacteria allowing it to migrate at the bottom of the food container. For certain dairy products, such as cheese and yogurts that contain good bacteria, freezing will make this type of food lose its flavour.
  • Stay away from unpasteurised (raw) dairy products: Sure, it may be richer in taste but pasteurised products destroy the E. coli and other bacteria found in raw dairy products. When serving customers or clients, always stick with pasteurised dairy products!

The bottom line is that dairy products are extremely risky and spoil the faster with greater results than the other food groups. Making sure that all of your food business staff is well informed about providing the proper storage and care when handling or cooking with these ingredients will keep your kitchen much more organised and your food always tasting its best!

Top 10 Worst Food Contamination Outbreaks

We recently blogged about the e coli outbreak in Europe which prompted someone to point out another blog post summarising the 10 worst food contamination outbreaks.

Click on the hyperlink to have a look – it’s pretty scary stuff which once again highlights the importance of good food safety management programs.

We all have a stake in this because we all eat and consume food from a wide variety of sources.

If you come across interesting statistics and data like this, please let us know, we’d love to blog about it.

The Science Behind Food Safety

Words like, ‘food poisoning’, ‘foodborne illness’ and ‘kitchen accidents’ are very common when talking about food safety in general. What isn’t talked about as much is the science behind all of it.

Since the majority of food safety revolves around foodborne pathogens, scientific research is the foundation of all food safety rules with two main types of research: Laboratory experimentation and investigation.

Because most countries’ governments depend on disease and food surveillance data to regulate their country’s types of foodborne pathogens, different types of testing are required for epidemiology, food microbiology and food technology. All of this falls under laboratory experimentation and provides the types of harmful microorganisms found in food that causes disease along with the level of risk involved.

After this data is discovered and on hand, food safety specialists take on the essential role of investigator to assist the public in awareness and help food businesses keep their industrial kitchens free from foodborne illnesses.

This investigation is extremely important, to say the least, for any well-run food establishment, especially considering there are over 200 known bacterial pathogens that exist in a spore or vegetative cell, viruses, parasites and toxins. That’s a scary number of foodborne pathogens which is why trained professionals are needed to handle this spectrum of the food business!

If not, restaurants may end up doing their own inspections, much like this man:

How to Keep Your Food Preparation Area in Full Legal Compliance

If you operate a business in which food is a main staple, food safety should be at the top of your priority list. Not only do you have the legal requirements to keep your kitchen and food preparation areas in good, safe conditions. But you also have an obligation to your customers to keep the things they eat and go into their mouth, clean, safe, and of the highest quality.

Health departments and food safety departments outline all requirements; food safety procedures and kitchen procedures that must be followed by every establishment. What happens if you do not follow these requirements? Well, most importantly you run the risk of hurting your customers. All it takes is for one customer to have an illness or unsanitary problem with their food and your business could take a downfall.

When it comes to commercial kitchen food safety, there are requirements to meet in regards to food storage, food preparation, and safe food handling. These requirements are all geared towards preventing illnesses and diseases that could arise when food is improperly handled, cooked, and stored.

Some food safety requirements within Australia include:

Keeping foods that are deemed potentially hazardous at the correct temperature. In most cases, it is really straight-forward. If foods must be frozen, freeze them at temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius. The guidelines also dictate storage of food. Not only should it be stored at the correct temperature, but it should also be stored to provide protection from any contamination and within conditions that will have no affect on the food in terms of suitability and safety.

There are also regulations that dictate how to reheat food. Foods that are deemed potentially hazardous should be reheated quickly. The foods should be heated to at least 60 degrees Celsius and done so at a rapid pace.

If you are displaying food, you should make sure that you are using different serving utensils for each type of food. Cross food contamination is perhaps the easiest of all contamination processes so it should be carefully guarded against.

With the number of laws and regulations provided in regards to food safety, it can be easy to forget or overlook. However, you need to remember that all it takes is just one bad review or a customer to have a negative experience to ruin the reputation of your business. Therefore, it is a good idea to seek advice from a reputable food safety business in order to help you keep your kitchen safe and your equipment in meeting legal standards.

Gavin can be contacted at gavin@agbsolutions.com.au or through his website at www.australianfoodsafety.com.au.

Are your Food Safety Preparation Systems Setting You Up For Disaster?

If you are someone who is in charge of one, or several kitchens in the bustling city of Melbourne, you already know that the sanitation and health of both your workers and your customers needs to be one of your highest priorities.

There are many things to keep in mind when you are looking at making sure that your kitchen meets the food safety standards standards that have been set by the health code, but the truth of the matter is that for even the most conscientious of kitchens, it can be easy to get sloppy.

When you are looking at the sanitation of your kitchen and the good health practices of your staff, there are many things that are at stake.  The goal of many restaurateurs is to ensure that customers have an enjoyable experience and that they associate the restaurant with good times.  This is much harder to do if they get sick.

There is also the fact that if you are careless with your sanitation you can, and most likely will run into legal difficulties. There are many things that you can do to help leave legal matters out of your life, and taking care of your health issues is one of them.  Also keep in mind that it doesn’t take much to ruin the reputation of even an established restaurant.

There are some very basic things that can be done to reduce the chances of a food poisoning outbreak at your restaurant.  First, make certain that your staff are educated on matters of food safety.  Verify that they are aware that spoiled food does not necessarily look or smell different from food that is good, and let them know that food must be kept hot or very cold in order to make sure that bacterium doesn’t grow on it.

Remember that all food should always be covered and that raw and cooked foods should always be kept separate. Take some time to make sure that food is not defrosted in the open air and that hands are washed before and after handling food.

Also take care that the various hot and cold places in your kitchen meet the requirements of the local legislation, and always store meats on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator in order to keep juices from dripping down onto other foods. These are the basics for a commercial kitchen, but remember that as a general rule, the busier the kitchen, the more stringent food safety procedures need to be.

Amidst the calamity that dinner time can bring to commercial kitchens it can be exhausting to keep even the simplest orders in mind, let alone adhering to proper food safety procedures. However the reputation of your restaurant depends on these procedures so it is vital that you take no chances. The more streamlined your procedures are the more likely they are to be followed by your staff. Consultation with a food safety expert is often a worthwhile exercise. These people can evaluate your current procedures and suggest any improvements to strengthen your restaurant’s ability to produce safe, quality food.

Gavin can be contacted at gavin@agbsolutions.com.au or through his website at www.australianfoodsafety.com.au.

Food Poisoning – Is Your Food Safe?

Outbreaks of food poisoning have been in the news a lot as of late. As you know, many of these outbreaks were traced to restaurants. No matter where in the world you are, there are safety regulations which must be followed and Australia is no exception.

In many cases of food poisoning, Salmonella is the culprit. Raw poultry and eggs are generally the source of this bacterium in foods, but this bacterium can also be carried by contamination from faeces as well as pet reptiles.

Salmonella is a bacterium which can affect many types of food items. Usually, raw poultry and eggs are the prime suspects in salmonella related food poisoning cases, but contamination from faeces and pet reptiles can also carry these bacteria. There are two ways to prevent salmonella form causing food poisoning which are guaranteed to be effective: thoroughly cooking food before serving and regular, thorough hand washing before, during and after cooking or eating.

Escherichia coli (or E-coli for short) is a form of bacteria which can cause serious illness or even death. Found naturally inside of the human body and in some foods, some strains can be lethal. E-coli produces harmful, toxic substances and includes unpleasant (to say the least) symptoms including watery and/or bloody diarrhea. A healthy adult can generally weather a case of E-coli food poisoning, but the elderly, the sick and young children are at risk of getting very ill if infected. As with salmonella, the way to prevent E-coli infection is thorough cooking and regular hand washing, along with careful cleaning of all cooking areas. Hand washing should become a thoroughly ingrained habit. You use your hands to pick up everything – even harmful microbes.

With all of the stories about food poisoning in the news, it’s understandable that some people are a little nervous about dining out. To make sure that your establishment keeps your customers safe from the risk of infection, be sure to follow the HACCP principles. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points and is a set of principles designed to make sure that foods prepared for people to eat are safe. Many of these regulations are simply common sense, such as putting milk back into the refrigerator after use or dating items before freezing.

Being in charge of a restaurant means that you have to keep a handle on a lot of things at once – make sure that HACCP principles are at the top of your list. All of the hard work you’ve put into your business could be lost if someone gets ill from your food due to a preventable mistake by an employee unaware of the food safety regulations.

Having a HACCP certified kitchen is very marketable. If you have received stickers or certifications from health officials, be sure to place them where your customers can see them. This way they know that the food which you are serving to them was prepared in a clean kitchen which complies with health and safety regulations and they can dine in without getting anxious.