Tag Archive for 'Food safety hazards'

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!

FSANZ warns against consuming raw apricot kernels.

On the 4th November 2011 Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the Government body responsible for Food Safety guidelines and legislation issued warnings against consuming raw apricot kernels. The raw kernels are often used as a cancer treatment or preventative cancer supplement.

The following information has been reproduced with permission of FSANZ:

“Food Standards Australia New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Steve McCutcheon today warned consumers against eating raw apricot kernels following the discovery of high levels of a naturally occurring toxin in some products available in Australia.

There are different types of apricot kernels, some of which contain high levels of the toxin that can release cyanide into the body when eaten. Adults eating as few as four of these kernels a day could become very ill – children should not eat any.

Testing of a number of raw apricot kernels by state and territory health authorities found they contained high levels of the toxin that can release hydrocyanic acid, a cyanide compound, in the gut. These products are currently being investigated and a recall is occurring. The products have been sold nationally on-line and at some health food stores.

While some raw apricot kernels are promoted as an alternative therapy for cancer treatment, the Cancer Council of Australia has published a position statement that cautions consumers about using alternative therapies, including laetrile (apricot kernels).

If you have recently purchased the recalled raw apricot kernels you are advised not to eat them. Return the product to point of sale for a refund or dispose of it safely out of the reach of children and pets. More information (including individual state health authorities) about this recall is available on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website.

Anyone who has eaten these products and is concerned about their health should seek medical advice.

Apricot Kernels are also sometimes used to assist jams to thicken, however FSANZ has indicated that fresh and dried apricots, apricot juice and jam are not affected.

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!

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:

Food Safety Standards Higher In Australia

I couldn’t pass up the chance to share this photo with you – to put our Food Safety Standards in perspective.

The next time you get upset because of the bureaucracy, red tape and government regulations – just remember, they exist for a reason…!

Food Safety - Milk

Without this Food Preparation Checklist, You Could Be Courting A Food Safety Disaster

If you run a restaurant or kitchen of any sort in Melbourne, you already know that it is a tough town when it comes to food safety standards and restaurant reputation.  You will find that there are number of things that can sink a restaurant in Victoria, but nothing will shut a business down faster than sanitation violations.  If it is discovered that your restaurant has health violations, you can watch your business drop like a rock.

The answer, of course, is to make sure that your kitchen stays in great shape and maintains a high standard of cleanliness.  Though this is by no means a complete list, you will find that these suggestions can help keep your kitchen operating at a high standard.

Store cooked and uncooked food separately. This is essential when you are looking at making sure that your restaurant has a high degree of sanitation.  Essentially, cooked food very often goes directly to the tables of your diners.  Raw food, which is uncooked and untreated, may very well still be carrying bacteria or other contaminants that can be transferred to the cooked food.  By keeping them separate, you’ll be able to keep them from affecting each other.

Label everything. It seems simple, but the truth of the matter is that you should label everything that comes into your kitchen.  Make sure that your kitchen staff undergo food safety training and know what is in the various containers. This way they will only open them when necessary and they will not risk contamination through repeated exposure.

Labelling will also help to improve the speed and efficiency of your kitchen.  Similarly, you may also want to think about dating things to know when they were received.

Temperature readouts. No matter where you keep food, you should make sure that there is a temperature gauge nearby.  This can be instrumental when you are keeping cold foods and when you want to make sure that they stay good.

Take some time and really consider what your options are going to be when it comes to installing thermometers in your food storage location; this can help you a great deal.

Food satefety training for your staff? Remember that when it comes to keeping your restaurant sanitized that your workers play a large part.  There does tend to be a fairly high turn around in kitchens, so take some time to make sure that your workers are aware of what needs to happen to keep the kitchen to high food safety standards.  Make sure that you include both front room staff and kitchen staff when it comes to this kind of food safety training.

When you are running a commercial kitchen, you’ll find that you need to think about what your options are going to be in terms of keeping it safe and clean.  Educate your staff and keep in mind the fact that there are professional services out there that can help you monitor your existing procedures and give you a detailed list of how they can be improved.  Remember that a little money spent on this now can prevent large legal fees down the line.

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

What Mistakes Does Your Team Make in Food Preparation?

Anyone who owns or runs a restaurant or other food preparation business wants to provide their customers with a safe and quality product.  Unfortunately, there are times when mistakes are made and the end result could be a sick or even dead patron.

Do you know that there are approximately 5.4 million cases of food poisoning a year in Australia?  Of these 120 will end with the loss of someone’s life.  All of these cases of food poisoning could be prevented if proper steps had been taken in the preparation of the food products they ingested.  I am sure that everyone in your kitchen wants and tries to comply with food safety standards, however, mistakes happen.  Or what if those standards are simply not enough?  What if there was more you could do to protect the people who are entrusting you with their well-being?  Would you take the opportunity to learn enough to guarantee your foods safety?

A food safety expert can save your kitchen the embarrassment of causing people to fall ill after eating your food.  With about 5.4 million cases of food poisoning a year, it is only a matter of time before someone gets sick from your kitchen; unless you are willing to do all that it takes to prevent it from happening.  By allowing a food safety expert to assist your staff, they can ensure that no one will get food poisoning from your kitchen.  Wouldn’t you enjoy that piece of mind?

A food safety expert can also make your establishment a more profitable one.  As people begin to talk about the wonderful experience they had dining in your restaurant, more guests will come in to try your menu for themselves.  What pride you would feel knowing you were running a place people loved to come into then told their friends about it.

AGB is the only Australian company owned and operated by an apprentice Chef of the Year.  Gavin Buckett is a food and safety expert and is making it his mission to teach restaurant owners and managers how to better protect their patrons and their businesses.

There are different food safety programs available to suit your individual needs.  For example, they can have their auditors come to your establishment and provide weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, or annual audits depending on your desire.  AGB can also provide your kitchen with management solutions such as; menu writing, cost control, equipment recommendations, event planning, sourcing suppliers, food preparation and handling training, product and recipe development, and allergen controls.  In addition, AGB also has a food safety compliance system.  It is a twelve-month course that only requires 10 minutes of your time each week.  This program teaches you tips, techniques and new teachings, all of which will make your restaurant a success.

When your establishment is run properly; is clean, organised, and putting out delicious quality products, word spreads.  When your restaurant is dirty, disorganised and putting out subpar products, word spreads.  What do you want people to be saying about your kitchen?

The HACCP systems designed by AGB Solutions Pty Ltd are practical and easy to read and each program is specifically designed for each client’s business. As most clients are implementing HACCP for the first time, AGB Solutions have designed an 11 Point Checklist for HACCP Certification Success so that we can provide our Guarantee to your success. Click here to see what we include in our 11 point checklist.

How to Ensure That You Don’t Have Any Sick Customers from Your Food

If you are a restaurant professional in Melbourne, whether your restaurant is large or small, you need to make sure that proper sanitation and health concerns are one of your top priorities.

There is a good chance that you know of, or have even been to a restaurant that has suffered from health code issues. The repercussions of this can be immense.  The most obvious and potentially devastating sign of poor food hygiene is sick customers. This of course is an unpleasant situation for customers and in the best case scenario, they will simply never return to your restaurant again. In the worst case scenario, they will sue!

Recovering from the loss of reputation that results from poor food safety can be nigh on impossible. Because of this it makes much more sense to protect yourself and your customers by ensuring that your food safety standards are high to begin with.

When you are looking at the maintenance of good food hygiene, you will find that at the most basic level, it is a matter of cleanliness.  All of the handling and storage areas should be kept clean and anyone handling the food must be aware of what they are doing and take the proper precautions.

Food should be thoroughly cooked, and whether being stored or served, should be at an appropriate temperature to prevent the multiplication of bacteria.

Cross contamination, especially with regard to meat, is also something that requires constant vigilance. Meat should always be stored in such a way that accidental drippings will not contaminate other foods.

An extremely important aspect of good food hygiene in the kitchen is the idea that anyone who handles food in your kitchen should be well trained and aware of the safety procedures in place.  Before and after handling food, they should wash their hands with warm water and liquid soap, and after washing, they should make sure that they dry their hands on a towel intended for that purpose.  Hand washing is the core of good hygiene in the kitchen and it should be undertaken after going to the toilet, handling money, breaks, and after sneezing or blowing your nose.

Even with a good understanding of food safety, it is important to be aware of the fact that there is a lot to be said for consulting an expert.  You and your staff have a lot going on, and in many ways, it can be difficult to look objectively at a familiar situation and make sure that everything is being done right. However these small details that get overlooked can become a big issue and potentially devastate a business!  It is here that professional services that will assess your safety procedures and suggest improvements come into play.  You can use these services to reduce the chance of a food poisoning outbreak.  In a place like Melbourne where news travels fast, you can bet that this is something that you will be glad you invested in!

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