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Food Safety in Lebanon

Food Safety in Lebanon

In light of the recent exposure to how unsafe Lebanon’s food really is, the topic of food safety has been cast in a new light.

Once thought of as a non-issue to consumers and a nuisance to food establishments, it’s all the media seems to be talking about, and the number one thing on everyone’s mind when going out for a meal.

Issues have been raised on whether it’s safe to eat out anymore. The blacklist has included some of the top restaurants and most popular eateries. So, why is the recent scandal so important, and what is the responsibility of restaurants to provide safe food?

LASSA has interviewed the president and general manager of NutriSafeCo, Mr. Elias Chedrawi, to discuss the state of food safety in Lebanon and to offer sound advice on how we can prevent food poisoning. He is certified by some of the largest food safety institutions in the USA. He helps restaurants, food establishments, nurseries and school cafeterias by developing food safety plans and trains workers on the proper food handling techniques.

LASSA: Mr. Chedrawi, Why all the talk about food safety?

Mr. Chedrawi: Unsafe food has been a problem since history was first recorded. As a matter of fact, primitive man used fire to cook food and destroy germs that could cause food poisoning, and food safety has been a struggle ever since. It is an international problem and not confined to Lebanon. In fact, the WHO estimates that close to 2 million people worldwide die each year from food and water safety. Incidences of food poisoning occur in both developed and underdeveloped countries

LASSA: How do we prevent food poisoning?

Mr. Chedrawi: Most food borne diseases can be prevented by proper food handling.

 

LASSA: What does proper food handling mean?

Mr. Chedrawi: Proper food handling means taking the proper steps to prevent germs from entering the food, and doing what is required to kill those germs if they are present. Because most food poisoning cases occur due to a large number of bacteria and viruses that have made their way into our food supply.

The proper handling steps are classified into 4 categories: clean, separate, cook, and chill.

If we follow the proper procedure of these four steps, we can be almost certain that the food we eat is safe for consumption and will not cause illness.

LASSA: Tell us about the first step.

Mr. Chedrawi: The most important aspect of cleanliness is maintaining good personal hygiene which starts with washing our hands properly before handling any food.

Good personal Hygiene also means wearing gloves, hair nets, and clean clothes when preparing food. It also includes making sure that the person preparing our food is healthy and free of any diseases

LASSA: What about clean equipment?

Mr. Chedrawi: Of course cleanliness also includes making sure that the equipment, utensils and plates we use are properly cleaned and sanitized. Cleaning the equipment is getting rid of the dirt, while sanitizing refers to killing the germs that remain on them. Any surface that touches food, like forks, knives, plates, cups, food processors etc. must be sanitized completely.

 

 

 

LASSA: What do you mean by separate?

Mr. Chedrawi: Raw food, especially meat, chicken, and sea food, and their juices can contain dangerous microorganisms which may be transferred onto other ready to eat foods during food preparation, storing, and serving. Therefore, it is very important to keep raw food away from cooked food, and to use separate equipment for raw and ready to eat food. For example, we cannot use the same cutting board to cut tomato and raw chicken, and we have to store prepared food in containers to avoid contact between raw and cooked food.

LASSA: Cooking seems to be self-explanatory.

Mr. Chedrawi: Well, you would be surprised at how little the general public knows about how to cook safe food. There are certain standards we have to follow when cooking.

Different foods must be cooked to a specified level of temperature. For example: Chicken must be cooked to a minimum temperature of 75 degrees; cut meat minimum 63 degrees; ground meat 68 degrees; and eggs to a minimum of 72 degrees.

When reheating food, we should reheat it to a minimum of 75 degrees.

LASSA: What about chilling?

Mr. Chedrawi: Microorganisms can grow rapidly if food is left at room temperatures. By holding food below 4 degrees or above 60 degrees, the growth of bacteria is drastically slowed down, even stopped. Therefore, we should keep our cold food in the refrigerator or freezer, and keep hot food hot above 60 degrees.

It is also important to remember that we should follow the right procedure for thawing frozen food by keeping it in the refrigerator overnight and not leaving it on the counter to thaw.

For any further information or inquiry about food safety issues don’t hesitate to visit lassanet.org or nutrisafelb.com.

Lebanon , Others

Date: 1/20/2015 2:14:26 PM

By: LASSA web , LASSA
 
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