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FSAI Advises on Safe Food Handling – Safe Food to Go Booklet Outlines Food Safety Skills

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today published a guidance booklet Safe Food to Go to promote and advise on best hygiene and food handling practices for ‘food to go’ businesses. For the first time this publication is being made available in eight languages to cater for the range of ethnic food outlets and take-aways in Ireland and to ensure that food businesses are aware of the food safety skills their staff are obliged to demonstrate before providing food to consumers. It highlights the importance of following a set of strict guidelines when preparing and handling food to go and will be of particular interest to owners, managers and staff of take-away outlets, forecourt garages supplying food and any retailer providing ready-to-eat meals. The guidance booklet is available in English, Chinese, Czech, Polish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Romanian and Russian, reflecting the multicultural nature of the Irish take-away food industry today.

According to the FSAI, the booklet aims to act as an educational tool and training aid for employers within the food industry to ensure that all those handling convenience food are fully up to speed on the dangers of food poisoning and how it can be easily prevented. It is a legal requirement that all staff handling food are supervised and trained in food hygiene commensurate with their responsibilities.

The booklet provides information on the causes and effects of food poisoning and provides details on the type of bacteria that are responsible for food contamination including Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli O157 and Staphylococcus aureus. The booklet also expands on the preventative measures that food businesses are advised to practice in an effort to curtail the spread of these harmful bacteria to food.

Mr Jeffrey Moon, Chief Specialist Environmental Health, FSAI, said that it is vital that food safety be treated as a priority by food businesses operating in the food to go sector and that staff working in this sector know what causes food poisoning and what they must do to prevent it. The responsibility for good food hygiene practices rests firmly on the owners of these food businesses.

"Indicative of today’s ‘cash rich’, ‘time poor’ society, more and more consumers look to food to go outlets that provide quick and easy access to food. To cater to this demand, ready-to-eat meals are available to purchase in almost every retail and convenience outlet. It is therefore of the utmost importance that food businesses are educated on the fundamentals of food safety skills in preventing bacterial food contamination. Food poisoning can be a very serious illness and can even result in death. Those most at risk are children, pregnant women, the elderly and the sick. Most cases of food poisoning occur as a result of bacterial contamination and are easily prevented with proper adherence to hygiene standards and food safety protocols. Safe Food to Go contains some very simple and easy to follow hygiene practices that can play a huge role in stemming the spread of food poisoning bacteria", he continued.

Click here for a copy of Safe Food to Go.