Food safety

Food safety . Property of a food that does not represent any risk to the health of the consumer or manipulator and that the dangers have been eliminated, an essential aspect of public health in all countries.


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  • 1 Definition
    • 1 Importance
    • 2 Hygienic measures
    • 3 Hygienic rules
    • 4 Tips to avoid diseases
    • 5 Symptoms of the disease
    • 6 Development of microorganisms
    • 7 Habitat of microorganisms
    • 8 Foods with the highest risk of contamination
    • 9 Food preservation
    • 10 Prevention
  • 2 Sources


It is the condition of the food that guarantees that they will not cause harm when they are prepared and / or consumed according to the use for which they are intended. Safety is one of the four characteristics that together with nutritional, organoleptic and commercial characteristics define the quality of food.


Food provides us with the energy necessary for all vital functions, the essential elements for growth and development in children as well as for the structural and functional needs of the organism, but they must be free of chemical substances and microorganisms that can cause damage to the people’s health. The need for a healthy diet includes consuming safe food, so it is very important to educate families on how to ensure hygienic measures at home to achieve this goal.

The family must know the consumption of food that guarantees their adequate diet, free of physical, chemical and biological dangers and the hygienic measures of the immediate environment of the food and those that the handlers must comply with.

Diseases transmitted as a consequence of microbial pathogens , biotoxins and chemical pollutants represent serious threats to the health of billions of people, with the appearance on all continents of serious outbreaks of microbial pathogens , lead and melamine contamination, among others, in the last triennium.

The damage caused by foodborne illnesses is becoming more and more worrisome, and more than 250 foodborne illnesses are now recognized. Diarrheal diseases in Cuba are an important reason for medical consultations, despite the fact that on many occasions for this reason the doctor is not attended. From the epidemiological analyzes carried out, a series of risk factors have been identified that have been the cause of the increase in these, throughout the food chain.

Hygienic measures

All members of the family are informed of hygiene in the home in relation to the handling and consumption of food, therefore it becomes extremely important from the social and health point of view and the need. Special emphasis in homes where there are children, pregnant women, older adults, or sick or immunosuppressed people. Whoever buys and prepares food most frequently in the family should best understand the measures to ensure food safety with excellent hygiene at home.

Hygienic rules

The internationally recognized sources of food contamination are:

  • Other Foods
  • Food contact surfaces
  • The manipulator

Compliance with the 5 Golden Rules (RO) proposed by the Pan American Health Office to guarantee food safety is of vital importance .

  • RO-1. Ensure good quality of raw materials and water.
  • RO-2.Keep everything clean (surfaces, hands and uniform of the manipulator, utensils and cloths and free of vectors).
  • RO- 3. Properly cook food (guarantee a temperature of more than 60 degrees.
  • RO-4. Avoid cross contamination (in transportation, storage and handling).
  • RO- 5. Ensure safe storage temperatures (perishable foods must be kept between 0 and 6 degrees).

Tips to avoid diseases

  • Do not mix raw foods, especially meats, with ready-to-eat foods in shopping jars and in the refrigerator.
  • Keep the freezer with its lid to ensure a temperature of less than 18 degrees Celsius.
  • Keep the refrigerator between 1 and 4 0C. open it as little as possible. The joints must be in good condition.
  • Refrigerate immediately after returning from the market, meats (if you are going to use them in 1 or 2 days), eggs, milk and dairy products.
  • Keep raw meats, poultry, and seafood separate from one another.
  • Clean the cutting board after each use.
  • Wash towels or tea towels with soap or detergent. Boil them frequently.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • When pricking the chicken with a fork, the juices should be clear as a sign that it is well cooked. If the color is pale red or pink, cook longer.
  • Fish should also be cooked well. If the meat is separated by touching it with a fork, this indicates that the fish is cooked.
  • When cooking eggs, the yolks and whites must be hard and not liquid.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze. Wash your hands afterwards.
  • Use the leftovers in a day or two and if it overheats it should be over 70 ° C.
  • Keep pets away from food and their environment.

Symptoms of the disease

Many are the symptoms caused by eating contaminated or spoiled food. The most common include abdominal pain, diarrhea , vomiting, and fever. Depending on the type of microorganism, and the amount ingested, the symptoms will appear more quickly and with greater severity that can even lead to dehydration, shock and, in some cases, death.

The ingestion of toxins can also cause diseases, they act more quickly by behaving like chemicals in the body and it is very important to keep in mind that they are not destroyed like living things when cooking food. The toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus , which can be handled by handlers and present in sweets with meringue, cold salads and mayonnaises without sufficient acidity, and those of Clostridium perfringens are the best known, the most potent being that produced by Clostridium botulinum (botulism ), which causes death by respiratory paralysis and are especially present in canned goods and in the preparation of homemade preserves.

Microorganism development

Microorganisms thrive well in foods that contain:

  • High moisture content .
  • Rich in nutrients.
  • Temperatures between 5 and 60 degrees centigrade.

The longer they are in these favorable conditions, the more they will reproduce and the more contaminant load the food in which they grow will have, so it is very important to avoid prolonged periods of food in these conditions.

Habitat of microorganisms

Where are the microorganisms that contaminate food frequently found?

  • Hands and nails.
  • The mouth, throat, nose and saliva of humans and pets
  • The hair
  • Wounds skin conditions.
  • Poorly sanitized kitchen utensils (be especially careful with kitchen towels)
  • Human and animal droppings
  • Contaminated water
  • Garbage and food scraps
  • Pets and vectors such as flies, roaches and rodents.

Foods with a higher risk of contamination

Not all foods have the same risk of being carriers of microorganisms or toxins capable of producing a food-borne illness, which is why we point out those that the experience in Cuba and the international literature reports of greater care.

  • Cooked foods that are eaten cold or reheated.
  • Raw meat, fish and seafood.
  • Ground or minced meat.
  • Milk product milk unpasteurized or adequately boil.
  • Custards and desserts with milk and eggs.
  • Creams
  • Eggs and egg food. You meringues.
  • Garlic in oil at room temperature.
  • Mayonnaise with egg for insufficiently acidified salads.
  • Seasonings with meat broth.
  • Pasta products, such as macaroni and cooked noodles.
  • Baked, boiled or fried potatoes.
  • This type of food should be kept as short as possible under optimal temperature conditions for the growth of microorganisms (5-60 ºC).

Food preservation

More appropriate temperatures for food preservation.

Activity type Conservation temperature

Freezing Less than -18 ºC Cold maintenance 0-6 ºC Hot maintenance More than 60 ºC


One of the simplest and perhaps most important measures to avoid foodborne illness is to wash your hands before handling them, but especially:

  • Before touching food.
  • After handling raw food.
  • After going to the bathroom (toilet.)
  • After blowing your nose.
  • After touching pets.
  • When you have changed the child’s diaper or touched sick people.
  • After touching contaminated surfaces such as waste baskets.
  • When handling chemicals.
  • Returning from the street.

In children, hand washing is very important, mainly due to the habit of putting fingers and objects in their mouths.


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