Food Safety: It is not enough for food to be tasty and presentable.
What you can’t see or touch can affect our bodies nicely or adversely.
As many of you dear readers have observed, my features have been leaning towards covering food events and promoting Bacolod restaurants, particularly those home-grown joints that have sprouted around the city. It had been one of my goals–to promote Bacolod–our culture, people, food, products, art, services, and such, to the world. As much as we can, my husband and I, who is as adventurous as I am when venturing out for a good eat, would go out and try to sample new fares and promote them to our social media followers and our blogs. It had become an advocacy, which is the basis for this blog’s most famous post:
So anyway, not a lot of people know that I was afflicted with Hepatitis A last month, January 2016. I felt so bad that I was in bed for about five days and couldn’t eat well because I was nauseated. I was not able to work and I had to quarantine myself from my family, especially the kids. Oh how bad it was to push them away when all they want was to hug me! I was diagnosed on January 26, after a blood test revealed that my ALT (SGPT) test result shot up to 1,608 (normal range is 0-33). I then followed it with a HAV test just for confirmation and yes, suspicions are correct that I was infected. According to the pathology of Hepatitis A, I could have been infected sometime in December. And with the many places I go to eat, I could have gotten the virus anywhere. So I am not pointing fingers. And it happened to me, even though I consider myself one with a tough tummy.
I researched how one gets infected with Hepatitis A and I felt so nauseated to think that the mode of infection is fecal-oral. In our dialect, my initial reaction was, “Yuck! Kadamak!”
I am not accusing anyone because I was the only one who was infected in my family and among my friends so I could not really trace where I got it. But I think that this is also a wake up call to local restaurant owners–you should always be vigilant in your food handling and service.
A Basic Restaurant Improvement
I am one who uses the bathroom often so I have used almost all the restrooms in the places that I have dined in. After downing my drinks, I would feel the urge to relieve myself. In the United States, one remarkable thing that I noticed at their restaurant wash areas is that there is a sign that says, “All employees are required by law to wash hands with soap and water after using the toilet.”
Here in the Philippines, I would often sigh every time I use the toilet because most of the time, they don’t have soap or worse, no running water. So how could their employees wash their hands because they also share the use of the same toilet?
If there is one that I would like to see in Bacolod restaurants is a lavatory with soap and running water. It would be more sanitary to provide liquid soap to avoid contamination. And please, don’t dilute the soap to the point that it hardly lathers anymore. As I have learned, they don’t need to be anti-bacterial. Any soap will still effectively clean the hands.
You might think that this is added expense. But think about the repercussions. You and your business will also suffer if clients get sick from eating contaminated food.
And while I am on the issue of restaurant toilets, it would really be a plus for you restaurant owners if you improve your restrooms–not really to beautify them but to have them cleaned up before peak hours so that when customers come in, they will find a nice smelling comfort room with dry floors. Please lang.
Food Safety Ordinance of Bacolod
Councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue has passed an ordinance “Ensuring the Observance of Food Safety Standards in the City of Bacolod under Republic Act 10611 or “The Food Safety Act of 2013”. The Act is supposed to “strengthen the food safety regulatory system in the country to protect consumer health and facilitate market access of local foods and food products, and for other purposes.” In an interview last June 2015, Councilor Sigue said taht Bacolod Food Safety Standards will boost the ‘food tourism industry’ in the city and the province of Negros Occidental.
Yes, it should. But as a victim, the ordinance should be enforced and proper guidelines should be set and disseminated to restaurant owners and all those covered in the law (like slaughterhouses and markets). These should be strictly enforced and corresponding fines should also be meted. But fines or no fines, restaurant owners should make it their priority not just to serve great-tasting and IG-perfect dishes but also food that is safe for their guests to eat.
We, the social media influencers, are trying everything that we can to promote our city and its local businesses. But it wouldn’t help if people get sick from dining in restaurants.
Anyway, I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty details of other food safety/food handling systems. But at the very least, hand washing should be properly done because it is the basic care in preparing food. And a lot of problems can already be avoided with just proper hand washing. Restaurant owners and staff (kitchen crew and servers) should know what proper hand washing should be. This is not to bring down or insult anyone, but just a gentle reminder of what should be done to keep everyone safe. I am speaking from experience and I don’t want that to happen to anyone. I am sure that I am not an isolated case. Not only was the experience really bad, the costs my sickness entailed did a dent on my pocket–from the blood tests, to the consultations, and the medication (for a month!). And I was not able to work for about two weeks and was still advised to rest for the remainder of the 30-day period. So please, be reminded.
These are not mine, sources are mentioned.
How to Wash Your Hands: The Best Way
Any part of the hands and arms that could potentially touch food needs to be washed. To wash their hands, a person should first wet their hands and forearms with water. Next, they should add a dime-sized amount of soap. Regular soap works fine. Anti-bacterial soap does not need to be used.
To get the hands clean, the person should rub the soap over the surface of skin on the front and back of the hands, on the wrists, between the fingers and just under the nails. Friction and rubbing remove dirt from the hands. A person should lather with the soap for at least 20 seconds, away from the stream of water. After lathering for 20 seconds, the person should rinse the soap away with warm, running water. They should then dry their hands with a paper towel or a clean cloth towel. They should not rub their hands dry on their pants or an apron. Source: http://www.restaurantqrcodes.net/handwashing-requirements.html
When Should Hands Be Washed
● After taking out the garbage or trash
● After clearing tables or busing dirty dishes
● After touching soiled aprons or clothing
● After touching anything that may contaminate the hands
(any surface not sanitized)
● After sneezing, coughing or using a tissue
● After smoking, eating, drinking or chewing gum or tobacco
● After using any cleaning, polishing or sanitizing chemical
● After using the restroom
● Before and after handling raw food
● After touching the hair, face or body
● Fingernails should be kept short and clean.
● Nail polish, false nails and acrylic nails should not be worn while handling food.
● Cuts and sores should be treated and kept covered with clean bandages.
What do you think about this food safety issue in our Bacolod restaurants? Do drop me some messages in the comments. Thank you!