Nurses' Role in Promoting Food Safety Practices
Submitted by Mehreen Aslam
Mehreen Aslam is currently enrolled in MSc N at Aga Khan University. She holds a degree in MS community Health and Nutrition and a bachelor's degree from University of health sciences Lahore. Mehreen is developing expertise in the area of public health and is keenly interested in highlighting preventable health issues for community health promotion.
Every year, nearly one out of every ten persons in the world has a foodborne illness, with 420,000 people dying as a result. Foodborne sickness, also known as "food poisoning," is caused when disease-causing germs or pathogens contaminate food. Vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort as well as fever, headache, and body soreness – are common indications of foodborne illness. Some kitchen-based measures that a nurse can promote to reduce the prevalence of food-borne illnesses are by organizing awareness campaigns in the community.
- Always buy eggs with uncracked, clean shells from a refrigerated case. Make sure the date is correct. Keep them in the refrigerator immediately. Refrigeration at 40°F (4°C) or lower will keep the food safe. Salmonella will be less likely to grow and reproduce on the shell, resulting in foodborne disease.
- The meat of the chicken must be light pink or white in color and odorless. Check to see whether the meat has a greenish tint, is bruised on the surface, or has a nasty odor.
- Inspect onion and garlic with minimum tint, cut, and damage during buying with dry, intact, and solid peel.
- To kill any hazardous bacteria meat, chicken, fish, and egg yields must be cooked to a safe and adequate internal temperature. i.e 140-165°F(62 -74°C)
- Wash all fruits and vegetables under running water even with peels.
- Before handling food, wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly.
- Scrub firm fruits and vegetables like melons, avocados, and cucumbers with a clean vegetable brush.
- It's preferable to wash oranges shortly before eating or juicing them to prevent mold growth during storage.
- Always keep apart raw meat and cooked meals.
- Practice a distinct cutting utensil for raw meat, chicken, and fish.
- Bacteria that cause food poisoning proliferate most quickly at temperatures between 4-40 °C.
- The refrigerator should be set at 2-8°C and the freezer should be below 0°F.
- Within 2 hours of food preparation or purchasing, chill meat, chicken, eggs, fish, and other likely spoiled foods. But if the outside temperature is above 32° C, refrigerate even within 1 hour.
- Food should never be defrosted at the normal temperature on the counter, but rather it should be in the fridge, in cold water, or the microwave.
- For dry food storage, shelves should be maintained away from the walls. They should also be cleaned regularly to evade pests.
- Unsealed and open foods should be kept in airtight jars with clear labels representing their name, opening, and expiry date
- Mold grows more quickly in moist environments. Avoid letting all the dry ingredients become soggy and moist.
- Bread molds can be infectious, so avoid handling them with bare hands. Molds also emit chemical substances such as benzene and acetone, which cause lightheadedness, and sickness.
- Fresh bread or other similar items should be consumed whenever possible. If mold growth emerges on the food, do not eat it whole or in portions and discard it right away, because bread molds are contagious
- To limit fungal formation, store onion, and garlic at temperatures below 15°C (59°F) and low humidity for 1-week storage.
- To discourage mold growth, store onions in the refrigerator for up to two months
In a nutshell, public health nurses can play a significant role in raising awareness about safe food hygiene and safety practices among the general public to prevent diseases which in turn can reduce the disease burden on health systems.
- Kamboj, S., Gupta, N., Bandral, J. D., Gandotra, G., & Anjum, N. (2020). Food safety and hygiene: a review. International Journal of Chemical Studies, 8(2), 358-368
- Aslam, M., Malik, M. I., & Kausar, S. (2021). Effect of food safety and hygiene training on KAP score among food handlers in multiple food service institutions, Pakistan. Journal of Food Safety and Hygiene, 7(2), 86-96.