By Silpa Sreekumar, Candok Health Coach @ candok.in
Increased awareness about healthy lifestyle is encouraging people to consider healthy food choices.The focus on having a healthy diet is gaining importance day by day. The nutritional value, hygiene and safety of food are of paramount importance while you select vegetables, fruits or packaged foods.
A nutrition expert or a dietitian plays a crucial role in guiding people, especially those who are on a nutritional plan for weight management, lifestyle disease management or after a critical medical intervention like a kidney transplant, angioplasty, bypass or recovering from any critical illnesses. A dietitian will help you with a weekly or monthly menu to aid faster recovery, prevent, manage and even reverse some of the lifestyle diseases. The recommendation dietitians provide should also consider safety, nutritional value and hygiene of the food that you consume.
Food hygiene explains about the conditions, measures and parameters of quality that are required to be ensured at all stages of the food chain for safety and suitability of food. The whole food chain – from source to processing, packaging, transportation till it reaches the plate determines the safety, hygiene and nutritional value of fresh vegetables, fruits and packaged foods. This write up focuses on some of the tips we can follow while shopping and preparing food at home.
While preparing food at home, following these may help maintain hygiene;
- Keep clean
- Separate raw and cooked foods
- Cook thoroughly
- Keep food at safe temperature
- Use clean water and raw materials
To share a bit more on food hygiene, let me explain two key points- food safety and food suitability.
Food safety: Food safety & hygiene are important as they ensure that the food you handle and produce is safe for consumption. If food safety and hygiene are not maintained, consumers could become seriously ill with food poisoning and foodborne illnesses.
Food suitability: Suitability is the assurance that the food is acceptable for human consumption according to its intended use. It includes quality concepts like- not spoiled (microbial or chemical degradation), lack of foreign particles (ex. hair, insects, etc), authenticity of food (comprising sufficient information about the food and assurance that it is unadulterated), religious and cultural acceptance.
Food storage and food contamination:
The interaction of nutrients and enzymes present in food leads to several degradative chemical changes that deteriorate the quality and shelf-life of the food.
The deteriorative changes are enhanced by contamination that occurs at various stages of processing, handling and storage. Germs can survive in our hands and utensils. Washing hands with soap and water thoroughly will help you maintain basic hygiene. Contamination occurs from various physical, chemical and biological sources and are affected by external factors such as temperature, poor hygiene and sanitation. Contamination leads to spoilage of food due to the microorganisms, enzymes, chemical reactions (harmful additives, mycotoxins, bacterial toxins and radiations), physical changes (caused by freezing, burning, drying and pressure.)
What items should be rejected:
The packaging of food should always be inspected during purchase or delivery. Any package that has damages or tampered should be rejected. In addition, for canned products look if the packaging has any bulging and those should also be rejected. Anything with a broken seal, missing label or dirty packaging should not be accepted.
Any one who consumes contaminated food is at risk for foodborne illnesses. The symptoms of foodborne illnesses may include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps or flatulence, nausea, fever, joint and back aches, fatigue, headache or weaknesses and gagging.
Deciding on correct food choices, hygienic handling and healthy preparation are some of the decisions that will help out to stay healthy. We welcome you to an exciting world, a world where food you consume can bring remarkable difference, help you become healthier and age gracefully.
Candok Health Coach can provide guidance, prepare a customized diet plan, suggest basic physical activity and guide you through your journey to reaching your ideal weight.
Understanding and applying Nutrition Series. Edited by Candok Editorial Board, Candok Lifestyle. Live Life, Naturally!