Tuesday, August 23, 2011


How many workers in a restaurant or for that matter in any food handling facility are aware of the dangers posed by improper handling of foods at various stages like raw material cleaning, pre-processing, cooking, storing, re-heating and serving? Probably very few personnel have the wherewithal to exercise the required precaution to ensure its safety. In a country like India even the owners are either indifferent or illiterate regarding most of the safety issues, let alone the workers employed by them. How can a situation like this continue that involves the fate of millions of customers who flock to these eateries every day? Why not make it mandatory for workers in eating places and other institutions handling foods to undergo a minimum training program that will equip them to understand and deal with safety hazards, lurking around their working place? In some countries such practices are in vogue and in India and other developing countries also such training program must be made mandatory.

"The city now offers a one-day voluntary food safety certification course and demand is high for that course. Sherry Beadle, Ottawa health department's program manager of food safety, said her department plans to consult with the food industry about the plan and whether a mandatory course has worked in other regions. "Education occurs with every inspection that we conduct," Beadle said. "The difference with this certification program is it allows a greater in-depth look at food handling practices. Training is always a good thing." Eight of the province's 36 health units currently require mandatory certification. Beadle said the move to a mandatory course would be to ensure food safety continues and not because there is a particular problem within the system. "Certainly it is not as a result of a negative or an experienced problem. It is just ensuring that we are making food as safe as possible," Beadle said.

It is a very common sight to see cooking and serving personnel employed by majority of restaurants shabbily dressed, sweat odor permeating through the place, unshaven, unkempt, blissfully unaware of hygiene and sanitation which can cause revulsion some times. While many eateries do some "window dressing" to keep the serving area clean, at least to look at, the cooking areas are invariably ill-kept and fortunately since most foods served are hot, bacterial poisoning may be far and few. But bad sanitation can cause post-cooking contamination that needs to be checked. There are many universities which have students undergoing courses in food science and microbiology and it should not be a tall order to deploy these students to train local food workers as per a scheme involving capsule courses of duration of one or two days. As far as India is concerned an institution like CFTRI at Mysore can be entrusted with the responsibility of designing such a capsule course for country wide use. Similarly in other developing countries premier food research institutions can be involved in evolving appropriate programs of similar nature.


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