Food Hygiene 

Food-borne diseases

Unhygienic food, meaning unsafe food, has been a health problem for humans since ancient times, and today it continues to be a widespread problem in every country, including developed countries. Every day in the world people get sick from the food they eat. Probably there is no person having at least once food poisoning in his/her lifetime. Gastroenteritis, which is experienced in varying severities, will be treated in a few days and people who have it say "something I ate affected me" and let it pass. However, food poisoning can seriously affect vulnerable groups such as children and elders, leading to years of chronic health problems and even deaths.

A significant portion of food-borne illnesses pass to the body through the microorganisms or toxins they produce. However, microorganisms are not the only cause of foodborne illnesses, and dangerous chemicals that food contains, for various reasons, are also important disease factors.

Food and water-borne diseases are a preventable encountered problem in every country in the world. The most common symptom of these diseases is diarrhea, but it can also lead to other serious consequences, such as kidney and liver disorders, brain and neural disorders, reactive arthritis, cancer and death. However, with the right food safety system and proper preparation of foods, food-borne illnesses can be largely prevented.

These diseases are called "food-borne illnesses" and are caused by dangerous MICROORGANISM and / or TOXIC CHEMICALS.

According to the World Health Organization data, it is estimated that around 1.8 million people die annually from diarrhea worldwide, and most of them from diarrhea due to food or water. In the United States, it is estimated that each year, one out of six Americans (means 48 million people) are sick because of the food and drink they consume, 128,000 of which are hospitalized, and 3,000 have died. Approximately half of those affected by food poisoning are under 15 years of age.

Unfortunately, in our country, there is not enough statistics about food poisoning cases. Although the works of Turkish Statistical Institute (TSI) consider this subject as a shortcoming, no progress can be reported yet.

What is microorganism?

Microorganisms are small enough not to be seen with the naked eye, which we call "germs" among the people. You cannot see, smell or taste microorganisms... Microorganisms are the basic stones of life like chemistry and a life without them cannot be thought out. Bacteria, viruses, yeast, molds, parasites are always microorganisms, and they can be transmitted to food at any point of the food chain.

There are 3 types of microorganisms: useful, destructive and dangerous.

Useful microorganisms:
   Provide fermented food and beverages (yoghurt, cheese, beer, pickles, wine)
   Are used in medicine (e.g. penicillin)
   Are used to facilitate the absorption of food in the intestines (probiotic)

Microorganisms are used directly in the production of various dairy products such as yoghurt, cheese and kefir. Fermentation of the bread, beer and wine making, vinegar, boza making are also through microorganisms. In addition to these, there are direct benefits of microorganisms to make butter, sausage, pickles, olives and so on.


Bad or destructive microorganisms do not make people sick, but they disrupt the food, changing the taste, deteriorating it and making it look bad. These microorganisms are called saprophytes.

Dangerous microorganisms that cause hygiene issues can make people sick or even kill them. These are also called pathogenic microorganisms. Most pathogens do not change food properties such as the smell, the taste, the appearance, the signs of whether the food could make you sick or not. However, some microorganisms that change the appearance of food are dangerous at the same time (such as the production of toxins by green molds that grow on top of your bread).

Examples of common dangerous food-borne microorganisms:
   Bacteria - Salmonella, Yersinia, Listeria, Campylobacter, Vibrio and E. coli;
   Parasites - intestine worms, trichina, tenia;
   Viruses - hepatitis A, norovirus.
Microorganisms are naturally everywhere. An environment without microorganisms is unthinkable. But most:
   Feces: Human and animal feces are the cause of disease microorganisms
   In soil and water: A teaspoon soil contains more than one billion microorganisms.
   In mice, rats, insects: All organisms have microorganisms.
   Pets, sea creatures and farm animals (e.g. dogs, fish, cows, chickens and pigs): Animals carry microorganisms on their mouths, feet, and skin.
   Humans (mouth, nose, intestines, hands, nails and skin): An average of 100,000 bacteria can be found per square centimeter of a human skin.

Microorganisms need someone or something to move. Transport from one surface to another is called contamination and hands are one of the most common tools for this. Microorganisms can spread rapidly with food and water. Pets can also be a source of transmission.

MMost of the microorganisms multiply by division. For this, they need nutrients, water, time and temperature.

Bacteria grow geometrically, which means exponentially (2, 4, 16, 256, and so on). A single bacterium becomes 2 in 15 minutes and this shows that a bacterium can reach more than 16 million in 6 hours. Some bacteria need to reach very high amounts to cause a disease, while others can cause a disease even in very low quantities.

Viruses are much smaller than bacteria. Although they cannot thrive in food or water, they contaminate through them. If someone who prepares a food has a virus infection during the preparation of the food or if the water used in the food business has been infected with a virus these viruses can go through contact with food and consumer. Hepatitis A and Neurovirus are examples of viruses that pass this way.

Intestinal parasites, such as Tenia worms, are the factor of food-borne illnesses in all the countries, frequently in countries where hygiene conditions are not adequately met. They cause disease by locating in the intestines of mammals, which is called "infestation". It passes to people through raw and undercooked meats which are contaminated during cutting, fruits and vegetables growing on the fertilized soil that has parasites.

Chemicals in Food

As mentioned above, microorganisms are not the only cause of food-borne illnesses. People become ill because of the following toxic chemicals contained in food.

   Natural toxins,
   Metals and environmental pollutants,
   Improper use of veterinary drugs,
   Improper use of agricultural pesticides,
   The chemicals used improperly during cleaning and disinfection,
   Improper use of food additives

Simple precautions such as washing and scraping may be able to remove chemicals from the surface. Taking appropriate precautions at every stage of production, the formation of some natural toxins can be reduced.

Five Keys to Safer Food

2. SEPARATE RAW AND COOKED
Raw food, especially meat, poultry and seafood can contain dangerous microorganisms. Unless precautions are taken, these microorganisms may transfer onto other foods during food preparation and storage. In particular, liquid / blood flowing from these products facilitate contamination. The transfer of microorganisms from raw to cooked food, as mentioned above is called “cross-contamination”. To prevent this, it is necessary to keep raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from other foods while shopping and to disinfect all the equipment and utensils contacted with raw food and all the surfaces that contacted with blood.

Five Keys to Safer Food

3. COOK THOROUGHLY

With proper cooking it is possible to kill almost all the dangerous microorganisms in raw food. Studies have shown that c ooking food to a temperature of 70 °C can help ensure it is safe for consumption, but you need to make sure that all the food reaches this temperature. Soup and stews are cooked at boiling temperature and at least 10-15 min. do not pose a problem if any improper operation is not applied after cooking. However, especially in large cooking meats such as grills, barbecues and especially large meats, even if the surface of the meat reaches a safe temperature, the center can remain at lower temperatures, so it is necessary to ensure that the center reaches a sufficient temperature. Likewise, when cooking in microwave ovens, uneven cooking can occur and leace cold spots where dangerous microorganisms can survive.

Even in foods containing a large number of microorganisms, keeping all sides 30 seconds at 70 °C provide safe consumption of these foods. We use color change as an indicator if food is cooked thoroughly, but the color does not indicate that food has reached enough temperature to be well cooked. For this reason it is recommended that thermometers specially designed for this work should also be used in homes.

Five Keys to Safer Food

4. KEEP THE FOOD AT SAFE TEMPERATURES

Microorganisms cannot multiply in very hot and very cold conditions. They multiply very quickly at room temperature and the temperature range at which microorganisms grow rapidly is between 5-60 °C. Cooling and freezing vegetables does not kill microorganisms, but limits or even prevents them from multiplying. For this reason, it is necessary to keep the food below 5 °C (refrigerator) or over 60 °C (cooking) in order to stop or slow the growth of microorganisms.

To protect the food at safe temperatures if not immediately consumed, the cooked food should be cooled rapidly and taken to the refrigerator. We should not keep cooked food for more than 3 days in the refrigerator, and we should warm up the amount of food we are going to consume at once.

It is also an important issue to defrost products in order to keep food safe. During defrost process if the surface of the food and the internal zones of food are defrosted at different times it may allow the development of microorganisms. For this reason, frozen products must be defrosted in the refrigerator, during cooking or in a microwave oven. In microwave ovens, defrosted food should be cooked quickly or taken to the refrigerator immediately, as some areas may heat up during defrosting.

Five Keys to Safer Food

5. USE SAFE WATER AND RAW MATERIALS

Raw materials used in food production, as well as water and ice, may be contaminated with dangerous microorganisms and chemicals. For example, it may contain some toxic substances produced by molds in earlier stages of production. For these reasons, it is important to pay attention to the selection of raw materials.

We use water frequently to wash our hands, to add to food, to wash fruits and vegetables, to prepare beverages, to make ice and to wash kitchenware. For this reason, water used for food production / preparation should not contain microorganism and chemicals at the level which will cause disease and must be drinkable.

When we buy or use raw material, attention should be paid to followings:

Fresh foods should be selected as much as possible,
Food should be processed and consumed when it is fresh in order to avoid food that is damaged or rotten,
Products that have been damaged, decayed, moldy should not be used,
Be sure that there are no foreign substances in the food such as stone, glass, metal, paper, garbage, hair, paint, bones in animal origin foods,
To be safe, we should select foodstuffs such as pasteurized / sterilized milk, processed foods
Especially if they are to be consumed raw, fruits and vegetables should be cleaned with safe water and shelled foods should be cleaned with brush or rubbed under flowing water. Even if the shells are to be peeled or scratched, the microorganisms may be washed away from the outside during these operations - after being washed or peeled, but soap or detergent should not be used.
Do not buy canned, bumped or rusted canned goods,
Attention should be paid to recommended consumption date and expiration date,
For purchased products, care should be taken not to spoil the cold chain until they reach to the kitchen / business. Products that are frozen and stored in cold storage should be picked up and store in the refrigerator as soon as possible.