Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is food safety?
  • What is food quality?
  • Are all quality foods safe?
  • How safe is street-vended food?
  • What precautions should be taken while buying vegetables and fruits?
  • What are food safety issues related to seafood and fish?
  • What is ‘use-by date’ on the food label and why is it important for a consumer?
  • How many times may cooking oil be re-used for frying and what is the health hazard of re-use oils?
  • Why should I keep raw food separate from cooked food?
  • How safe is food when cooked in microwave oven?
  • How long can food be preserved in refrigerator?
  • What should be done in case of a power cut to a refrigerator for a long time?
  • What is food contamination and what may be potential causes of contamination?
  • What are mycotoxins?
  • How mycotoxins affect human health?
  • What is food poisoning?
  • What are clinical symptoms of foodborne illness?
  • How Foodborne Illness may be Avoided?
  • What are Additives?
  • What is Adulteration?
  • WHAT IS FOOD SAFETY?
    Food safety is the combination of activities aimed at limiting the presence of those hazards that may make food injurious to the health of the consumer. It is about preventing infection, contamination and ensuring that food quality and wholesomeness are maintained throughout the food production and distribution chain.
    What is food quality?
    Food Quality includes positive and negative attributes that influence its value to the consumer. the positive attributes may be the color, flavor, texture, nutrient content, while negative attributes may be visible spoilage, contamination with filth, discoloration, or bad odors or tastes.
    Are all quality foods safe?
    NO. Not all unsafe foods are of bad quality. Unsafe food may appear to be of good quality, such as in the case when tainted meat is masked by strong spices, or other additives.
    How safe is street-vended food?
    This is difficult to say how safe street food can be as there are many contributing factors that define its safety. Most street food is cooked well and served hot, and therefore less chance of food poisoning. However, the water quality, hygienic conditions and the level of cleanliness may contribute to episodes of food poisoning.
    What precautions should be taken while buying vegetables and fruits?
    When purchasing your fruits and vegetables, it is advisable to select fresh vegetables and fruits which are firm, crisp, bright in color, with no visible bruises or signs of decay and wilting
    What are food safety issues related to seafood and fish?
    Seafood and fish may be contaminated with pathogens especially Vibrio cholera,
    Salmonella, E. coli, due to poor environmental hygiene or poor hygiene and
    Sanitation practices during its production and processing. In addition, fish and marine products may be contaminated by methyl mercury formed by bacterial action on industrial wastes and also by certain parasitic larvae that can be present in fish, it is advisable that fish and marine products be thoroughly cooked prior to consumption.
    What is ‘use-by date’ on the food label and why is it important for a consumer?
    ‘Use-by Date’, ‘Best Before Date’ or ‘Expiration date declared on the label is the date up to which the food maintains its microbiological and physical stability as well as the nutrient content. It is important to use the food before the expiry date to get the most nutritional value from it and to be relatively sure the contents are safe.
    How many times may cooking oil be re-used for frying and what is the health hazard of re-use oils?
    The problem with reusing oil for frying is that it can create “free radicals” which can cause ailments in the long run. These free radicals can be carcinogenic and may cause atherosclerosis. Ensure the leftover oil from cooking or frying is cooled down and then transferred into an airtight container through a strainer. When reused cooking oil becomes dark in color or is greasy/sticky than it is advisable to dispose such oil.
    Why should I keep raw food separate from cooked food?
    To avoid cross-contamination either through human hands, equipment, utensils or. by direct transfer from a raw to a cooked food item.
    How safe is food when cooked in microwave oven?
    Bacteria will be destroyed during microwave cooking just as in other types of ovens, so food is safe cooked in a microwave oven, as long as it is heated to the necessary temperature (generally above 70°C). However, food has the tendency to cook or heat less evenly than in other conventional method and leaving “cold spots” where harmful bacteria can survive.
    How long can food be preserved in refrigerator?
    There is a general belief that food items can be kept in a freezer for an indefinite period. A refrigerator set to below 5°C will protect most foods – but not forever. Over time, even chilled foods will spoil. The cool temperatures slow down bacterial growth but they don’t stop the growth completely. Some bacteria like listeria can grow well under refrigerator and cross-contamination can occur if raw and cooked food or salads are open and kept together.
    What should be done in case of a power cut to a refrigerator for a long time?
    Keep the door closed as much as possible to maintain internal temperature within safe limits. Food would be safe as long as power is out no more than 4 hours (without opening the doors). It is advisable to discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that has been above 5 °C for over 2 hours. Always discard any items in the refrigerator that have come into contact with raw meat juices.
    What is food contamination and what may be potential causes of contamination?
    Food contaminants are any substances not intentionally added to food, during the production, manufacture, processing, preparation, treatment, packing, packaging, transport or holding of such food or as a result of environmental contamination. Food contamination refers to the presence of harmful chemicals or micro-organisms in food, which can cause several debilitating illnesses if consumed.
    What are mycotoxins?
    Mycotoxins are a group of naturally occurring chemicals produced by certain molds or fungi that are toxic to Humans. They can grow on a variety of different crops and foodstuffs including cereals, nuts, spices and dried fruits. Mycotoxins are produced by several fungi in foodstuffs and feed during production, storage, transportation, often under warm and humid conditions. Examples: Aflatoxins, Ochratoxins and Patullins
    How mycotoxins affect human health?
    Mycotoxins can cause a variety of adverse health effects in humans. Aflatoxins B1 are genotoxic and carcinogenic, and may affect soft tissues such as liver and Kidney in Humans. Other mycotoxins may have a range of other health effects such as gastrointestinal disturbances, reproductive disorders or suppression of the immune system.
    What is food poisoning?
    When certain disease-causing bacteria or pathogens contaminate food, they may cause foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning”. Foods that are contaminated may not look, taste or smell any differently from foods that are safe to eat. Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria and Escherichia coli (E. coli) are common bacteria causing foodborne illness. The consequence of some foodborne illnesses may be mild where most people get better within a few days, but illness can some may be severe, or deadly. Bacillus cereus can form heat resistant spores and a heat resistant toxin in cooked rice left at room temperature. Reheating or lightly cooking the food may not destroy this toxin
    What are clinical symptoms of foodborne illness?
    Most types of foodborne illness cause one or more of the following signs and
    symptoms: Nausea • Vomiting • Watery Diarrhea • Abdominal pain • Dysentry • cramps
    How Foodborne Illness may be Avoided?
    Proper food handling can prevent most foodborne illness and diseases. Follow WHO’s Five Keys to Safer Food;
    1. Wash hand and food thoroughly,
    2. Separate raw from cooked food,
    3. Cook thoroughly:  
    4. Keep food at safe temperatures: 
    5. Use safe water and raw materials.
    What are Food Additives:
    Non-nutritive substances added intentionally to food, generally in small quantities to improve appearance, flavor, texture or storage properties. Amounts used in food are usually regulated by law.
    What is Adulteration:
    The process by which the quality or the nature of a given substance is reduced through
    1. the addition of a foreign or an inferior substance, and
    2. the removal of vital element.
    DO YOU KNOW?

    1. Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances, causes more than 200 diseases - ranging from diarrhea to cancers.

    2. Foodborne and waterborne diarrheal diseases kill an estimated 2 million people worldwide annually, including many children.

    3. A single foodborne bacterium can grow into more than two million bacteria in just seven hours under the right conditions.

    4. Listeria is an emerging Foodborne Pathogen that can survive and sometimes grow on foods stored or kept in the refrigerator at Tempreature of 4 - 5 0C

    5. Hepatitis A virus can cause long-lasting liver disease and spreads typically through raw or undercooked seafood or contaminated raw produce.

    6. It is estimated that more than 250 million people worldwide suffer food allergies.

    7. The boiling temperature (smoke point) of cooking oil is above 200 0C.

    8. The boiling point of water is 100 0C.
    In Collaboration with: