HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. It is a system that identifies, evaluates and controls hazards which are significant for food safety. It was first designed by the Pilsbury Company working alongside NASA and was developed in order to guarantee the safety of astronauts’ food in the early days of the US manned space programme.
Most Western food establishments and manufacturers follow the HACCP system to ensure quality standards and the UAE government has now made it a legal requirement for establishments here to put it in place. They have started with all five-star hotels and restaurants although some argue that they should have started at the cheaper, low-end establishments as it is those who frequent these places that can’t afford medical bills for subsequent food poisoning incidents. We all know that food poisoning is a serious issue with terrible cases highlighted in the papers recently. As summer creeps up on us, well actually it is already here in full force, it is worth being a little more diligent in our food preparation.
Seven Safety Tips:
1.Wash hands and nails with hot soapy water before handling food, between handling cooked and uncooked foods, and after going to the toilet. ( i should hope so!!)
2.Wipe down and disinfect surfaces and utensils regularly, using a detergent or diluted bleach – always read the safety instructions. (they say that the average kitchen has more germs in it than the average bathroom!!!)
3. Use separate chopping boards for preparing raw meat, poultry and seafood and for fresh produce ie salads, fruit and veg.( If you don’t have 16 chopping boards lying around your kitchen, wash your one thoroughly between each stage of cooking!)
4. After using a knife or other utensil on raw meat, clean it thoroughly before using it on other foods.( no cross-contamination, thank you!)
5. Store fresh or frozen food in fridge or freezer within two hours of purchase – sooner if the weather is hot! (i think that’s us! infact i would go straight home after a food shop with absolutely no detours at all in this heat! If you can remember, it is always good to take a freezer bag with some ice packs in it with you to the supermarket, i’ve remembered to do this twice!!!)
6. Use leftovers within two days. Cooked rice should only be kept for one day! ( if i have leftover cooked rice i freeze it and then microwave it when i need it. Rice is one of the easiest ways to get food poisoning.)
7. Only reheat food once and serve piping hot.( that means steaming!!)
Lets hope we see a significant drop in food poisoning cases in Dubai, just last week my friend and her husband contracted dysentery from eating at a very well established and acclaimed Dubai cafe. They haven’t had a very nice time but are thankfully feeling a lot better now!!!
A massive thank you to GHP quality consultants www.ghpgroupme.com for enabling me to do the three day HACCP course and exam!