Acute Watery Diarrhea ranks top 7 in the top 10 leading causes of morbidity in the Philippines.
It is one of the Food and Water-Borne diseases. Other related diseases include Acute Bloody Diarrhea, Acute Viral Hepatitis, Cholera, Rotavirus, and Typhoid Fever.
These diseases can be prevented through food safety practices and awareness.
By practicing food safety habits such as hand washing, using safe and clean water, and proper handling of food – we can prevent food poisoning and food-borne illnesses.
Here are five (5) food safety practices that you should remember when preparing food at home:
1. Always wash your hands with clean soap and water. Hand washing is an important step in preventing the transmission of bacteria and viruses especially when the person just came from the toilet or any contaminated area. Some bacteria such as E. coli from human feces may be transmitted to food through inadequately washed hands and cause vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Aside from hand washing, it is also important to use safe and clean water in washing your hands.
2. Separate raw from cooked food. One of the functions of cooking or heating food is to kill harmful microorganisms which may cause food poisoning such as the Salmonella bacteria from raw chicken and eggs or parasite eggs which may be found in raw vegetables. Thus, use separate utensils, chopping boards, or knives when handling raw and cooked food items to prevent cross-contamination.
3. Cook food thoroughly. Cook meat, poultry, and fish thoroughly to kill harmful microorganisms which may cause food poisoning. Use a food thermometer to check for the internal temperature of large food items or slice a sample of meat to check whether the middle is well done. Small traces of blood near the bones of the chicken also indicate inadequate cooking.
4. Store food at its proper temperature and cool down freshly cooked food within an hour. Cold or chilled food items such as milk, yogurt, fish, meat, and poultry must always be stored at a cold temperature. Freshly cooked foods must be rapidly cooled down within an hour to take them away from the warm “temperature danger zone “where bacterial growth and reproduction are optimal and makes food spoil faster. Use stainless steel serving trays which are good heat conductors or use wide flat food containers to cool down food faster.
5. Use clean water and utensils. Water and kitchen utensils may transmit disease-causing organisms or chemicals. Thus, use clean or boiled water and use separate kitchen utensils when handling fruits, vegetables, and raw fish, meat, or poultry and when handling raw vs. cooked food.
These 5 food safety practices are simple steps that you can apply at home to prevent transmission of food-borne illnesses and deliver nourishing food that will maintain the health of your family. Watch out for our next articles on specific types of food-borne illnesses and how to prevent them! (PR)