Food Safety and Environmental Services
Food Processing and Food Handling Basics (Page 1)
A three-word definition of Food Sanitation is "protection from contamination." With this in mind, all functions and operations must be included in a sanitation program. All food products must be protected from contamination from receiving (and before) through distribution. Sanitation is a dynamic and ongoing function and cannot be sporadic or something that can be turned on once a day, once a week, etc. Therefore, another definition could be: "sanitation is a way of
The primary rule of sanitation is to pay strict attention to food temperatures.
- Avoid prolonged holding in the danger zone (from 41°F to 130°F)
- Provide functional thermometers to all food storage boxes
- Monitor the temperature on serving lines on a regular frequency
- Thaw frozen foods under refrigeration or under cold water
- Do not thaw foods at room temperature
Regardless of type of processing or food handling operation, the number one consideration in food sanitation is people. It is people who set the rules, follow the rules, and also break the rules of sanitation. A sanitation program is as good as the attitude, willingness, and efforts of people. That is why the most important aspect of a sanitation program is ongoing personnel training. It is essential that the full meaning of sanitation and its wide economic scope be accepted by everyone concerned in the food system-including management. Personnel training should include appropriate sanitation principles and food handling practices, manufacturing controls, and personal hygiene practices.
Sanitation Principles and Food Handling Practices
Personnel training should instill and nurture an understanding of the processing steps and technologies for each product manufactured or handled and where potential problems exist, and create a keen desire to satisfy and guard the consumers' interests.
Manufacturing Controls and Essential Operations
Production personnel must be trained in the critical elements of the operations for which they are responsible, in the importance of these operations, monitoring these operations, and in action to be taken when these operations are not controlled. Certain industries have developed certification programs for operators of essential heat-processing equipment (e.g. milk pasteurizer or retort operators). If such programs don't exist for a given processing segment, it is important that specific training programs be developed for such personnel.
Persons known to be suffering from, or known to be carriers of a disease likely to be transmitted through food, must be restricted from any food-handling area. Likewise, persons afflicted with infected wounds, skin infections, sores, etc., must also be restricted from these areas. Any persons with open cuts or wounds should not handle food unless the injury is completely protected by a secure, waterproof covering.
Facilities with hot water for hand-washing must be provided and must be convenient to food handling areas. All personnel involved in food handling must thoroughly wash hands with soap under warm-running, potable water. Hands must also be washed after handling contaminated materials and after using toilet facilities. Where required, employees must use disinfectant hand dips.
Personal Cleanliness and Conduct
Personal cleanliness must be maintained while involved in food handling operations:
- Sanitary protective clothing, hair covering, and footwear must be worn and maintained in a clean, sanitary manner
- Gloves, if worn, must be clean and sanitary
- All food-handling personnel must remove objects (i.e. watches, jewelry) from their person which may fall into or contaminate the food product
- Tobacco, gum, and food are not permitted in food-handling areas
Personnel and visitor access to specific food product handling areas must be restricted. Personnel involved in raw product handling (e.g., farm truck drivers, etc.) must not be allowed in processing or finished product areas. Foot baths and hand dips, where required, must be properly maintained and used. Color coding of clothing, maintenance and other equipment should be used to clearly identify raw vs. processed product operations.
Food Processing and Handling Continued: Page 2