Archive for the 'food hygiene' Category

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!

Microbes they might kill you – Video

Today’s blog post is a follow-up to the Will Smith Food Safety Parody we published recently.

It’s a two-song medley: “Microbes, They Might Kill You” and “We Are the Microbes”, a parody of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions,” as performed by Carl Winter.

The animations were produced at New Mexico State University as part of USDA CSREES National Integrated Food Safety Initiative Project Number CD-D-FST-7057-CG.

The message is both valuable and entertaining – enjoy!

The Gourmet Guardian is committed to reducing Food Poisoning any which way it can. Food Poisoning statistics are alarming, every little bit we can do helps!

Food Safety Rap Video

You just have to watch this great re-make of Will Smith’s Rap it “Get Jiggy Wit It” transformed for food safety… Great message with a great beat!

Food Safety Audit Update

In my previous post, I sent you information on the new audit guidelines for Vulnerable Persons (VP) in NSW.

At the session, John Fallon from the New South Wales Food Authority (NSWFA) explained that there are only 22 approved external third party auditors in NSW.

He provided an enforcement update on all VP audits that have been conducted (by NSWFA employed auditors and external third party auditors).

He indicated that the top TWO problems encountered during audits were:

  • Ineffective monitoring records
  • Not complying with there food safety program

#1 Non Conformance: “Ineffective” Monitoring records

This included:

  • Not having records in place
  • Missing records or records not available
  • Completed records not identifying issues (i.e. Temperatures recorded outside critical limits)
  • No recorded corrective action when problems were identified
  • Supervisor signing off on incomplete or incorrect records

It is stated in the VP Guidelines that IT IS a requirement for someone to check all completed records. Even though it is not a requirement for records to be signed, we certainly recommend this practice to our clients.

We have a client who purchased from a newsagent, an “APPROVED” stamp and the person doing the checking stamps the monitoring record and signs above where it was stamped. I think this is a simple and effective means of verifying your records. You still need to make sure that the person who does the “approving” actually checks that the record has been completed correctly.

#2 Non Conformance: “Not complying with their food safety program”

Remember a couple of days ago I told you that your program should:

“Say as you do” and you should “Do as you say”.

Consistent areas where Corrective Action Requests (CARs) were raised included:

  • Labeling techniques used
  • Content of an internal audit – The internal audit process did not include a review of their food safety program. (Note: The findings of the internal audit should reflect what is found at an external audit)
  • Good manufacturing practices
  • Allergen management

The NSWFA will continue to monitor ALL Vulnerable Persons facilities (including businesses with Third Party Auditor (TPA) approval) and the Proprietor of the facility is responsible for ensuring that an audit is organised.

All VP audits conducted in NSW are reported electronically to the NSWFA. Every month, the NSWFA runs a report on facilities that are overdue for an audit. The following process is applied:

  • If overdue by 3 months they will be sent a “reminder letter”
  • If overdue by 6 months they will be sent a “warning letter”
  • Failure to comply will result in a $1320 penalty for corporations
    and $660 for individuals.

All scheduled audits must be conducted within the allocated 6 or 12 month period.

Your license cannot be renewed if there are any outstanding audits that have not been conducted.

2UE Interview On Dirty Chinese Restaurants.

Gavin Buckett was interviewed on Sydney’s 2UE 954 Talk Back Radio yesterday. Click on the hyperlink to listen to the 5 minute interview that discusses the NSW Food Authority Name and Shame register and Chinese restaurants that seem to occupy most of the top of the list.

GOURMET GUARDIAN
2UE INTERVIEW David Oldfield


CLICK ON IMAGE TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW
(Full Transcript Below)

2UE Footer

Click on the image to listen to the interview right now

Eating out is a bit of a common place thing of course in the 21st century but also a long time before that.  The news is that the New South Wales Food & Safety Authority have named and shamed a whole series of restaurants and Chinese cuisine has predominantly hit the top of the list.  So is it a question that the cuisine you choose may determine your chances of getting sick or is it just that we’ve got more Chinese restaurants than anything else?  How does it work out?

Gavin thanks for joining me.

Thank you very much David.

Gavin Buckett is an Australian food safety specialist.  Gavin is it just simply a matter of there being more Chinese food restaurants than anything else?

I think that that may be a possibility.  I know looking back to my childhood that most of the multicultural food that we had sort of 20 or 30 years ago was Chinese and I also remember that every single suburb had a Chinese restaurant on most corners.

And of course the clubs, you’d go into the RSL or something and they would have a Chinese restaurant.

Yes, and I know that there’s a lot more cuisines, like Thai and the Vietnamese, around now but I think it would be important to take a look at the number of Chinese restaurants as opposed to the number of different cuisines as well.

It would be a good idea wouldn’t it if they actually did that rather than doing it on just raw numbers; apply it proportionately based on numbers of restaurants.  In fact the Chinese may come in better under the ties with some of the others.

Possibly, yes.

Certainly there are very, very large numbers of them.  Are there hygiene issues behind some of these cultural methods that pertain to food safety; I mean we always see stories about how certain cultures do things, for example they use one hand to go to the toilet and one hand to eat their food and you know there are issues of cross contamination because it seems that maybe things aren’t all that clean.  Are there elements of that in anything we might see in restaurants?

Look I’ve seen some terrible things in my time but it’s not specific to one nationality or one type of food business or anything like that.  So we find that there are some businesses with different cuisines that are very, very good and there are some that aren’t.  But I’ve not found in my experience, and we’ve been doing food safety now for almost 10 years, and we haven’t found that’s its specific to any one cuisine.

In fact I saw a movie the other day which was a comedy based in an American restaurant where an American chef actually went into the toilet and was standing there at the trough, you know as men do, and he had his cake spatula with him and was about to go back into the kitchen and lather up a cake.

Well I haven’t seen that but I have seen at one shopping center where a chef walked in, he was in full chef’s uniform with his apron and gloves on, he then went to the urinal and just opened to one side, finished doing what he was doing and then walked back out of the toilet without changing gloves, or washing his hands, and walked right back into his restaurant.

Well maybe he’s one of those chef’s that you know cooks with one hand and goes to the toilet with the other.

Yes, and he certainly wasn’t of Chinese descent so, like I said its not something that’s specific to one cuisine or another but yes, the importance of food safety certainly is something that all food businesses need to implement.

Yeah and I suppose, responsibly speaking, when these various name and shame things occur like the New South Wales Food Safety Authority, it would be better if they gave us a proportional understanding given the numbers of restaurants when you’re going to cut it down to cuisine.  Because the report this morning did most certainly give the idea that if you were going to get sick there was more chance of it in a Chinese food restaurant; but the suspicion might be that there are simply more Chinese food restaurants so it proportionately gives the wrong impression

Yes, possibly.  Like I said I don’t know the number of different Chinese or Indian or Pakistani or any of those different restaurants that are around.  But I think from the name and shame website is that it indicates what penalties are being raised and that’s what the officers and inspectors are finding.  I don’t think its their job to turn around and say, look there are more Chinese restaurants than others; they’re just reporting what they find, so I think it would be discriminatory if they proportionately reported what had been found.

What I’m getting at is the way the story was related though, they way the story sort of went; the suggestion was you’ve got more chance of getting sick from eating Chinese food than something else because of the raw numbers that were used.  But in fact proportionately there may simply be more Chinese restaurants; so the report may have been unfair.  But I suppose the very interesting thing also about the name and shame file is I wonder if you look up these things, and anyone listening if you do this, if you go to the website and have a look at any one of those name and shame restaurants, would you ever go to any one of them?

Gavin can you understand why somebody looking at these restaurants that have been caught out in the past, would just never go there again?

Very much so.  I know that I was doing some training in Sydney and I didn’t know a lot about some of the cases that one of the guys in the class was talking about and I spoke to him at the break and he said that he looks at the name and shame website all the time.  So I went back to the hotel where I was staying and I pulled out [Renwick], that’s where I was staying, and there were 36 restaurants there in [Renwick]; that’s going back about 8 months now.  There were 36 restaurants there that were listed including the one that I had eaten out at the night before, and it certainly didn’t give me… A lot of confidence.

Yeah.  I hadn’t seen anything that would not make me eat there, but it certainly would be something that I believe the public has a right to know.

Yeah, absolutely.

A lot of the time you can’t see what goes on behind the walls.

More than a lot.  Gavin, I appreciate your time.

Can I just clarify one point?  Just before the break you mentioned that it might be safer to eat in your own home.

Well if you are cooking the food yourself; I’m certainly happier with everything that we make at home yeah, but I have a couple of restaurants that I love.  Yeah go on.

But according to the Food Safety Information Council there’s about 5.3 million people that get food poisoning every year in Australia and about ¼ of that is quantified back to people preparing food in their own homes.

Is this because they are using poor ingredients or is it because they’re eating stuff that’s long past when they should have used it because they’re leaving things in the fridge for too long; like seconds and sort of leftovers and what have you?

Well it could be leftovers and things that have been left in the fridge, it could be you know a domestic fridge if it’s overloaded it might not be running at the right temperature or drawers being opened frequently but…

It’s a good point actually Gavin, you sort of pack everything you can into your refrigerator but if you do that it doesn’t actually work very well.

Well that’s right, and with having a young family myself things like changing nappies, if people don’t go and wash their hands after changing nappies and then go and prepare sandwiches or prepare food or salad or something for their kids then it could easily be that they’re making their own kids sick as opposed to or something they’ve picked up at school or something like that.

Taste sensations you’re not looking for.  Thanks for your time Gavin.

All right.

That’s a good point there in closing about what happens in your own home too; especially when people leave stuff in the fridge for too long.  “How long has this been here?”

Let me tell you, if there’s any question about how long something’s been in the fridge, just don’t risk it.

Why do Chinese eateries top the NSW Food Authority name and shame register?

Gavin Buckett was recently interviewed by the Daily Telegraph about the high incidence of Chinese food restaurants in the NSW Food Authority name and shame register.

Click on the hyperlink to read the full story!

NSW Food Authority Name And Shame Register

NSW Food Authority Name And Shame Register

Hand Washing

We’re previously blogged about how important it is to wash your hands. Of course some people need a little motivation – we’re not sure if this will work, but it sure is an innovative approach to improve hand washing!

Hand washing

Are Gloves Food Safe?

Prime Skills - HandwashingWhile hand washing is very effective at preventing the spread of infection by wiping out bacteria as well as cross-contamination of foods, it is less than adequate for getting rid of many viruses such as hepatitis A and protozoa. One out of every five cases of food-borne illnesses is caused by an infected worker’s hands coming into contact with food, so;

Clean gloves are a better choice than unclean hands.

However, it has not been proven that the use of disposable vinyl, latex or non-latex gloves is a safer method of handling food compared to effective hand washing techniques. Wearing gloves can lead to a false sense of security and safety and can more than likely cause food contamination if hands are not washed and air dried prior to putting them on; so this can result in cross contamination from raw to high risk food in the same way as it does with hands.

Defects in a significant number of gloves, such as pinholes or punctures, enable bacteria from the hands to pass through the gloves and may result in contamination of high-risk foods with large numbers of pathogens. Latex gloves can also produce allergic reactions in some people.

The hand environment created by wearing gloves provides the ideal conditions for the growth of bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus.

Cleaning hands before putting on gloves and frequent disposal of gloves minimises the risk for food contamination.

It is good practice to wash hands thoroughly after gloves have been removed as pathogens may have multiplied significantly while the gloves were being worn. Some workers tend to wear the same pair of gloves for extended periods and it is that complacency that could account for the failure of gloves to prevent bacterial contamination.

Therefore the use of gloves could be counterproductive because workers might tend to wash their hands less frequently.

Food handlers with gloves are more aware they are handling high-risk foods and therefore are less likely to scratch their head and pick their nose or all those other bad hygiene practices that can lead to the spread of bacteria.

It therefore appears that a multi-tiered approach will offer the best protection.

Food service workers need to be educated about hand washing, using proper gloves and preventing ill employees from preparing food. They also need to be provided proper training in proper hygiene with a system put in place for monitoring compliance.