Today is the World Food Safety Day
By Sanuj Hathurusinghe Ceylon Today Features
Every year on 7 June the World Food Safety Day is celebrated aimed at drawing attention and inspiring actions to help prevent, detect, and manage foodborne risks, thus contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, access to the markets, tourism, and sustainable development.
Safety of our food has always been a hot topic and now with the oil spills, ship fires, salt shortages, and chemical fertiliser bans on top of travel restrictions brought by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the need for assuring food safety has never been more important because let’s face it, the last thing anyone wants now amidst the pandemic is to have a food poisoning. So, how can we be so sure about the safety of the food we are consuming? Let’s take seafood for example.
It is no secret that the majority of our country’s population fulfil their protein need via fish but with the recent fear of consuming fish due to the marine disaster caused by the X-Press Pearl, it seems like fish is off the menu for many. While the experts are yet to confirm whether the effects of the X-Press Pearl spills have already manifested in the fish we catch and consume, there are quite a few social media posts trending these days showing fish with green flesh and fish with plastic pellets in their gills.
What can immediately be done is to confirm from where the fish have been caught before you buy. It can be argued that avoiding fish from the west coast until a definite verdict comes from the experts is the sensible way to go. If you are still feeling fishy, then better look somewhere else for your proteins like frozen meat or eggs. You may have gotten eggs and meat delivered from the nearest supermarket or bought it off the lorry or the tuk that visited your lane.
During these trying times when contactless and online transactions are encouraged, it is hard to inspect the food items before you buy but make sure to do it afterwards. The eggs may have a ‘sell by’ date but that doesn’t necessarily mean the eggs get swarmed by bacteria after that day. Once you buy the eggs within that date they are usually good for two to three weeks. Make sure to refrigerate them in the container and to avoid any cracked eggs. Chicken can be kept longer in the freezer. Say you buy fresh poultry, you can freeze it and keep it for about a year if you want.
But it is always advised to consume it while it is fresh. You might think of buying a lot of canned food these days and it is actually a good idea, but make sure to store them properly to ensure they are safe to consume. The expiry date won’t matter if you store them in the wrong place. Avoid under the sink or over the stove or the damp basement. Always store canned goods in a cool dry place.
Avoid places with frequent temperature fluctuations. When buying dairy products always choose pasteurised dairy products to cut down on food-borne illness. Pay attention to the expiry date on your milk carton and always refrigerate it. This allows you to consume the milk even a day or two past the expiry date, but you can always rely on your tongue and nose to determine whether the milk has gone bad. Going organic might be the safer option but it is definitely not the cheaper option.
Try to go organic at least for food items you buy in small quantities. Always wash your fruits and veggies thoroughly before consuming. Store them in the refrigerator to use keep them fresh for long. The optimal temperature for your refrigerator is 4 – 5 degrees Celsius while for the freezer it is -17 – 18 degrees Celsius. Always maintain these ideal temperatures in your refrigerator to keep your food safe. There are lots of food items that don’t come with an exact expiry date so it is always better to trust your instincts.
Trust your eyes, nose, and how the food items feel to touch. When in doubt always throw away because better safe than sorry. Keep the food preparing and storing areas clean in your kitchen to avoid cross contamination. Use separate chopping boards, Tupperware, and knives for meat and veggies. If not, make sure to wash them thoroughly after each use.