Poor food hygiene allows illnesses and diseases to spread across several people who consume contaminated food or who come into contact with those who are already sick. There are a range of bacterium, viruses and germs which can multiply on foods, allowing foodborne illnesses to grow. Poor food hygiene can cause the following common illnesses and diseases to occur, which are associated with consuming contaminated foods:
Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease, caused by the consumption of contaminated food. This can be a result of an individual, with poor hygiene, contaminating food with this contagious disease. This can be unpleasant but usually recovery occurs within a couple of months - but it can be life threatening if it causes the liver to stop working.
Campylobacter is a bacterium which causes illness within humans who have consumed food which has been contaminated. According to the Food Standards Agency, around 4 in 5 cases of campylobacter food poisoning in the UK is a result of contaminated chicken. Raw chicken has campylobacter all over it and therefore if it comes into contact with hands, surfaces or other food, it can result in cross contamination and the spreading of bacteria. It usually causes diarrhoea and unpleasant symptoms, and sometimes can lead to more serious complications.
This is an illness which occurs after an individual has consumed contaminated food as a result of poor food hygiene. This involves unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea and high temperatures.
This is an infection which causes symptoms such as violent vomiting and diarrhoea. It is caused by the norovirus or bacterial food poisoning, which is a result of poor food hygiene.
What is poor food hygiene?
Personal hygiene when preparing food
Those who handle, prepare and serve food must take their personal hygiene seriously. This involves wearing clean clothes to work, tying long hair back, cleaning hands thoroughly and wearing gloves when handling food by hand.
If an individual fails to uphold high personal hygiene, pathogens will be transferred to the food and the food will be contaminated as a result.
Failing to cook food properly will result in bacteria remaining on the food, so food must be cooked thoroughly to ensure that all germs are killed off.
Food should be cooked until it reaches a core temperature of 75°C or 70°C for 2 minutes. A clean thermometer or probe will allow you to check the temperature at the centre of your food.
Leaving food out
Leaving food out at room temperature for a period of time provides bacteria with ideal growth conditions to multiply. Food which has been left out for more than two hours must be thrown away.
Storing food incorrectly
Keeping food at the wrong temperature allows bacteria to grow and to multiply. If food is meant to be kept in chilled conditions, then it must be kept between the temperature of 0°C and 5°C. Refrigerators should therefore be set at 3°C or 4°C.
Using the same utensils, equipment or storage area for food which should be kept separate can result in cross contamination. For example, raw meat and vegetables should be stored separately and separate equipment must be used between foods, to ensure that germs are not transferred between foods.
In 2012, the chef and manager of the Railway Hotel in Hornchurch, Essex, were jailed after a Christmas dinner left 33 customers with food poisoning, and sadly one customer died as a result. Mehmet Kaya and Ann-Marie McSweeney were convicted of perverting the course of justice after they created forged documents when environmental health inspectors began to investigate this instance of food poisoning. Consequently, Kaya and McSweeney were jailed for 12 months and 18 months respectively, and Mitchells & Butlers, the chain which owned the pub, were fined £1.5million.
The turkey meat, which was prepared the day before, was not cooled properly after it was cooked and was not reheated properly when it was served to guests. This instance of poor food hygiene had grave consequences.
Poor food hygiene and safety is dealt with seriously by the UK Food Standards Agency and local authorities, due to the serious illnesses which can occur. Therefore, knowing how to maintain high food safety and hygiene standards is important.