Clean hands saves lives
  • Friday 16 January 2015

While what may seem like a simple function, the most common cause of food contamination from both food business operators and household cooks is the failure to correctly wash their hands and surfaces or equipment in contact with food.

Sunshine Coast Council actively monitors and educates around 1800 licensed food businesses throughout the region about food safety hygiene to help prevent bacteria causing sickness and even death.

Community Programs Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said many of the same food handling practices apply to commercial food premises to residential household kitchens when it comes to the prevention of food poisoning.

“It is estimated that between 500 000 and 1 million cases of food poisoning occur in Queensland per year,” Cr McKay said.

“Nationally, there are an estimated 11 345 food poisoning cases per day, 31 920 hospital admissions per year and frighteningly 86 deaths per year.

“For both the commercial food handler and the assigned household chef, here are the best practise tips on washing your hands before handling food to keep the respective customers or family, fighting fit and healthy, and coming back for more.
1. Use the available hand washing facilities.
2. Clean your hands thoroughly using soap or other effective means.
3. Use warm running water.
4. Dry your hands thoroughly on a single use towel or in another way that is not likely to transfer disease-causing organisms onto the hands.
“Cleaning and sanitising cooking utensils, tableware and equipment used to prepare food, is also essential for the safe operation of food, whether in the home or business place.

“Three basic steps to effective cleaning are:
1. Clean with a detergent and hot water. Cleaning only removes the dirt from the surface but does not kill all the bacteria.
2. As dirt inhibits the effectiveness of a sanitiser, only sanitise on a cleaned surface. Sanitisers need contact time to work, so items such as utensils should be left to soak.
3. Drip dry tableware and utensils. This will prevent them from becoming recontaminated by wiping with a dirty cloth or tea towel.”

Cr McKay said 60 – 80% of all reported food poisoning cases come from commercial food premises.

“Council undertakes regular audits of food business premises throughout the region to ensure compliance with the Food Act 2006 and the Food Standards Code. All food businesses must be licensed and regulated,” she said.

“We offer free online and face-to-face training courses to assist food operators to provide quality, hygienic and safe food to their customers.

“The next course for commercial food handlers is February 17, 2015 from 5.30 - 8.30 pm at Nambour Show Ground Scout Hall.”

Visit council’s website for further information about food safety.