Summer is coming and with it is the rise in temperatures that contribute to an increased likelihood of foodborne illness. In their attempt to address this health issue, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority is launching a food safety awareness program which will include publications and public lectures aimed at educating the public, especially housewives, on food safety during the summer months. The content includes theoretical and practical tips on food safety.
The awareness drive will focus attention on the essential precautions required to prevent food poisoning, cross-contamination and other food-related problems.
“Awareness is key to a food-safe community. The likelihood of food risks begins right at the stage of shopping. It is important to buy foods from reliable sources. Reading the food labels and checking the ingredients and expiry dates is the first crucial step, followed by the proper methods of keeping food stuffs in the shopping cart, since mixing foods with materials such as detergents can be dangerous. Frozen and refrigerated foods should be purchased only at the end so they reach the kitchen in good shape. While buying packaged or canned foods, it is important to make sure the cans or packets are not perforated or defective.
Transporting foods is the next step in which things can go wrong completely if adequate care is not taken to reach home soon after shopping is over. Storing the purchases at home is an equally crucial stage as cooked and raw foods must be stored separately to ensure cross contamination does not happen. It is also important not to put hot foods back in the fridge before cooling them off as this practice will shoot up the temperature inside the refrigerators and might ruin other stored items. Sufficient empty space should be left in the refrigerator for airflow, and no food should be put back once it is thawed. No cooked food should be kept in the refrigerator for more than five days.
There is a wide spread misconception that washing meat or poultry will help remove the microbes and bacteria. In fact, washing meat improperly can lead to contamination of the food preparation place as well. Keeping the kitchen and all the cooking accessories clean is crucial in preempting food-borne illnesses. Using paper napkins is advisable, rather than cloths or sponges, as the latter are the ideal breeding ground for microbes and bacteria, due to their ability to retain dampness and food residues.” — Mohamed Jalal Al Rayssi, Director of Communication and Community Service at ADFCA
Asked why housewives were chosen as the target market for the summer awareness programme, Mohamed Jalal Al Rayssi commented that housewives are the primary and in most cases, the sole individuals responsible for food preparation for their families. Therefore, their primary role in food management makes it important for them to possess in-depth knowledge on food safety.
Al Rayssi called on the public to visit ADFCA’s website or social media sites for tips and advice on healthy food handling practices. He also invited people to visit the ADFCA booth at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair to pick up free publications on food safety.