Over the ages, sanitation and food safety requirements have evolved into the stringent conditions that workers in the food industry face today. Once upon a time, no health inspector would have closed down your bakery because of maggots in the dough, and a cook could easily get away with simmering a soup seasoned with ash from the cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Throughout the years, many people have reported becoming violently ill, and some unlucky patrons have actually died from eating contaminated food … and so came the birth of the Food Safety and Sanitation law.
Now what does food safety and sanitation have to do with microbiology? Everything! Let’s first take a look at microbiology. Breaking it down, you get micro which, basically, means you need a microscope to see it. Then you have biology which is a study of organisms of russian food store all shapes and sized. These microscopic organisms have names that I’m certain you’re already familiar with – virus, parasites, fungi, and bacteria. Bacteria is the most common cause of food-borne illness, and as such, is treated more aggressively than the other three varieties. There are four types of bacteria that workers in the food industry need to be aware of:
1. Harmless bacteria – Just like the name says, harmless bacteria neither harm nor help us. This is the most common type of bacteria, and due to its innocuous effects, we can simply ignore it.
2. Helpful bacteria – Yes, bacteria can be helpful to us. Helpful bacteria can be found in the digestive tract and its job is to fight off any harmful bacteria we may be exposed to. We actually eat this kind of bacteria willingly, in foods like cheese and yogurt.
3. Undesirable bacteria – In the food service industry, this is the bacteria that causes the most problems. It’s responsible for causing food spoilage and waste. Whether or not it can cause illness is fairly inconclusive, as it makes its presence well known by growing mould or rot. This is the prime type of bacteria that food service workers need to prevent, as it results in higher food cost and less profit.
4. Pathogens – This is the kind of bacteria that needs to be prevented at all cost. Most pathogens cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted but they are the root of food-borne illness. A customer who becomes ill in your establishment due to pathogens can destroy your reputation.
So, how do we prevent pathogens from developing? Practice proper sanitation and hygiene. There are six specific conditions that bacteria requires for growth:
1. Food – Bacteria needs to eat … it is a living organism. The favoured kinds of food are those that contain a lot of protein like meats, eggs, and dairy
2. Temperature – Bacteria, like people, has a comfort zone in terms of temperature. It cannot live below or above its comfort zone. You may already know this rule by the title The Danger Zone. Prime bacterial growth happens within 41F to 140F (5C – 50C). Keeping food above of below this range will ensure that bacteria remains dormant, or dies off.