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Happy World Health Day!

April 07, 2015

We wrote a bit back in January about our Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) certification, and it’s been almost a year since we received this certification. The HACCP’s mission is to identify and guard against potential food-service hazards such as contamination, and this year, food safety is the focus of World Health Day. 7 April is observed annually in tribute to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) founding and is used as an opportunity to draw attention to a global health topic.

To draw attention to food safety this year, the WHO has outlined five keys to ensuring your food is kept safe:

  • Key 1: Keep it clean: Make sure everything that comes in contact with food is clean and sanitized. This means your hands, clothing, linens, utensils, cooking and prep surfaces.
  • Key 2: Separate raw and cooked food: Raw food, particularly raw meats, seafood, and poultry can contain harmful bacteria, so keep that separate from cooked food.
  • Key 3: Cook food thoroughly: Cooking can only remove potentially harmful bacteria and microorganisms if it is cooked properly. For most foods that means to at least 70 degrees.
  • Key 4: Keep food at safe temperatures: Do not let cooked food sit out for more than two hours, and try to refrigerate food as soon as it is cooked.
  • Key 5: Use safe water and raw materials: None of the above points matters if the food or water you’re cooking with is contaminated.

The WHO identified the need to inform all types of food handlers, including consumers, on this issue because improper food handling and care affects all industries along the food chain- from farm to table. This truly is an issue that can affect every person. More than 2,000,000 Australians contract food poisoning each year. We care a great deal about this issue because Australian Uniform is involved at both ends of this chain: production and consumption.

What can I do to ensure food safety?

For one, you can make sure that all your food is properly handled. All items that your food comes in contact with should be appropriately clean and sanitized to prevent the spread of dangerous microorganisms. When you get linens, towels, kitchen, and cleaning apparel from Australian Uniform, you’re getting a promise that your food will be safe. Our HACCP certification shows we pay particular attention to items used in food service or will come in contact with food. We use specific washing processes that will remove any organic materials that your kitchen would have come in contact with, and separate these specific items from all our other linens.

While Australian Uniform is working to do their part on the production side, as a consumer there are important steps you can take. All of the WHO’s key points apply to home chefs as much as they do to restaurant chefs. You should also be aware of where your food is coming from. What if the food you’re working with isn’t safe?

All food products sold in Australia are required to meet the Food Standards Code administered by Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and are commonly labeled with ‘Product of’, ‘Grown in’, and ‘Made in’. Generally, products labeled ‘Product of’ are processed, while ‘Grown in’ tends to be more fresh food. For both of these labels, the products are made of ingredients of Australian origin. A label that says ‘Made in Australia’ was handled and packaged here, while the ingredients may be from elsewhere, and could be from a country where food safety standards are different than those we follow in Australia.

If this concerns you, an environment where you can find additional information about where your food came from, like speaking with producers at Farmer’s Markets, is the best way to make sure you’re getting the highest quality products. Locally grown produce is often freshest, less processed and seasonally rotated, and tends to be better for you. Organic dairy and meats are best for your health, and taking the time to store and cook it properly will keep you healthy. You can visit the Australian Farmers’ Markets Association to find your closest market.

We’re proud of our HACCP endorsement, and how that Australians see this certification as just one example of our service quality and concern for all our client’s needs. Without healthy Australians, who do we have to serve? If you’re not sure of you or your restaurant’s health and safety, please check out some more information from the WHO and consider giving Australian Uniform Service a call.