For years CARIRI has conducted food safety audits, at both food and beverage manufacturers and food service establishments, locally and regionally. In many instances there is a paucity of
food safety knowledge among workers that leads to incorrect food safety practices. In an effort to improve food safety practices thereby improving the relative safety of the food supply available to the buying public, CARIRI has hosted many training seminars and workshops for the general public as well as employees of food establishments in the food and beverage sector.
Trinidad and Tobago is a country that celebrates its many festivals with a wide array of food and drink. We need to ensure that when we celebrate we do so with the assurance that the food that
we consume is safe. It is against this background that we have compiled these tips around Carnival time.
Preparing foods at Carnival time could be both challenging and exciting, since it may involve preparing food for individuals, families, friends and other gatherings. Food may be prepared at home and served, brought to The Savannah or other venues for the enjoyment of family or friends or prepared on the spot for sale.
If cooking is not your favorite pastime, you may opt for the convenience of buying food while liming or feting. What about all-inclusive bands and fetes? For those premium prices, we look forward to ‘bussing de bar’ and eating our money’s worth.
However, the following day, while many may still be reminiscing about the music, the food, and the intoxication, some may find themselves with a queasy stomach, or worse, not from the alcohol,
but from something they ate. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol does not kill everything! The pelau, doubles, burger, chicken wings, corn soup or even that expensive crab back might not have
been prepared, stored or handled properly. The main concern here is that these foods are prepared, in large quantities sometimes, and may sit many hours in advance of serving.
Food that is mishandled can cause very serious consequences for all, especially infants, young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. For this
reason it is important that food handlers be especially careful when preparing and serving food. By following some simple steps, you can ensure the food you consume is safe.
• Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food.
• Wash and sanitize fresh fruits and vegetables to remove visible dirt and grime.
• Avoid leaving cut produce at room temperature for many hours.
• Avoid preparing food for others if you yourself have a diarrheal illness.
• Don’t cross-contaminate one food with another. Wash and sanitize hands, utensils and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food. Put cooked meat on a clean platter, rather than back on the one that held the raw meat.
• Cook meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly. Use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat, for example, ground beef, pork and egg dishes (74°C); chicken (83°C); steaks and roasts (76°C). Cook fish until opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
• Good cooking practices mandate that foods be not left at temperatures in the danger zone exceeding two hours.
• Keep cold food cold, ideally at 5°C or below.
• Keep hot food hot, ideally at 60°C or above (piping hot).
• Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature, so refrigerate leftover foods if they are not going to be eaten within four hours. Large volumes of food will cool more quickly if they are divided into several shallow containers for refrigeration.
BUYING OR CONSUMING FOOD AT EVENTS
• Hot foods should be served ‘piping’ hot (above 60°C) and be held at this temperature for no more than two hours.
• Cold foods, like green salads or salads with mayonnaise, should be served at 3-5°C and held for no more than 4 hours.
• Each dish should have its own serving utensils.
• Fresh food should be replenished regularly in clean trays.
• Some type of guard or cover should cover foods.
• Persons serving food should be appropriately attired with proper headgear, no jewellery and clean clothes.
• Clean water should be available for hand washing.
While the above may seem tedious and impossible to cooks or caterers, it actually isn’t and is the proper way that food should be handled. As revelers, you have the right to demand that the foods you are offered are safe for consumption and will not make you ill. When Carnival has come and gone you would have taken home nothing more than a good time.
For more information on Food Safety contact our Biotechnology For more information on Food Safety contact our Biotechnology Unit at 299-0210 ext. 5172 or firstname.lastname@example.org