Food poisoning happens when there is lack of hygiene, no proper sanitation, and inadequate knowledge on handling food and for consumers it is when or where you buy your food. Consumers pay the price of gastroenteritis and in some cases leads to admission when eating out guidelines are taken for granted.
I was going through a brochure from the Ministry of Health and I am sure many don’t take heed over the simple steps that can prevent food poisoning. The slogan that goes “SAFE FOOD IS ONLY AVAILABLE AT CLEAN PREMISES” not just covers the front or ambiance of the eatery but includes the kitchen and sanitation. The behind alleys are where all the germs lurk and feasting on rubbish are rats, creepy crawlies, and other stray animals. At one point, certain city council in Malaysia paid the public if they were able to catch rats especially in the heights of the rat spread disease outbreak. Some may consider the outbreak as an isolated case but death cannot be repaid by lame excuses.
|from Dr Hans book|
Food poisoning doesn’t just occur in eateries but is rampant during flood, drought, or other natural disaster where water management is at the poorest.
Choosing your eatery:
1. Eatery has proper ventilation and is protected from dust, flies, and stray animals.
2. It has clean water supply, proper waste management, and sanitation.
3. Premise provides soap for customers and staff.
4. Premise has clean tables and floor and less musky smell.
5. Premise provides clean equipments and utensils.
6. Food handlers wear appropriate clothing to reduce the risk of contamination
7. Food must be cooked well.
8. Ready to eat food must be covered.
9. There is proper storage of raw materials especially a cold storage for meat.
10. Food handlers have proper hygiene, just see if they have clean fingers, nails, appearances, and do not smoke.
11. Food handlers must use tongs, spoons, and forks when serving food.
12. Surroundings have to be clean.
13. There are separate towels or cloth for plates, tables, and utensils.
(I have seen many, use the same cloth even for floor spills!)
14. Make sure plates and saucers are not stacked.
15. Food handlers should display proper hygiene including during serving.
Simple steps that can reduce the risk of food poisoning at home:
1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
2. Wash fruits and vegetable well in running water (one of the sunnah is to wash fruits, meat and vegetables in running water)
3. Peel fruits skin or rind.
4. Never eat meat that smells
5. Eat food that is cooked well and reduce the intake of raw food unless there is an ingredient such as lime, lemon, or cider used to kill bacteria.
6. Wash all cooking utensils well especially chopping boards.
7. Do not sneeze or cough near food.
8. Do not allow pets in the kitchen.
9. Throw food out when it spoils.
10. Food should not be reheated many times.
11. This happens when food is not stored or cooked properly or when it gets old.
12. If the food is not eaten within 2 hours, reheat it until it is very hot.
13. Liquids should be bubbling and solids should be steaming.
14. Food should be covered at all times to prevent it from spoiling
15. For food that contains dairy products, reheating well and immediate consumption can reduce the risk of food poisoning.
16. Allow frozen food to cook much longer.
17. Never leave food unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours and never leave them overnight.
As for Muslim consumers there are many other factors added to above mention such as:
1. Is the eatery certified by the right authority as halal?
2. Does eating out bring benefit to the family and does it burden the family finances?
3. Is the food really healthy and is cleaned according to the syaria law.
4. Does the eatery have any connections to those anti Muslims groups?
It may sound that you have to be in the research field for this. Actually no, all you have to do is be an aware Muslim consumer. Keep yourself updated with the latest from JAKIM, consumer associations and acquire knowledge. Practice makes it perfect and practicing good Muslim values a little at a time can help build a stronger iman and reduce the risk of illness-by TDA