Food safety may be compromised around Carnival time for various reasons. Many of the causes stem from improper cleaning and sanitation practices as well as poor personal hygiene. This Carnival, keep these tips in mind to ensure that you and your family consume safe food:
- Hot foods should be held above 60oC or above and cold food should be kept below 5oC (refrigerator temperature) once prepared
- Do not pack hot foods together with cold foods
- When transporting food keep perishable foods on ice. Fried chicken, potato salad, ham, beef and fish, egg or chicken sandwiches need to be kept cold. You can also freeze meat sandwiches the night before
- Be careful about ice – separate ice for consumption from ice to be used for cooling, in different coolers
- Hot foods should be bought freshly prepared and should be piping hot.
- Salads and vegetables are supposed to be kept on ice
- Take along a lot of moist towelettes or baby wipes and instant hand sanitizer with you to clean your hands before touching food
If you depend on street vendors for food, be alert of the following:
- Their food handlers badge that should be current and displayed
- Their immediate surroundings are clean, free of litter, pests and other contaminants
- The vendor’s attire – they should on have hair nets, not be wearing jewellery whilst handling food, coats/aprons and gloves should also be clean
- The vendor should have facilities that include a supply of clean, potable water in addition to liquid antibacterial soap and hand-drying paper towels that allow him/her to practice regular hand-washing.
- There must be a covered waste receptacle.
- Foods should be in temperature controlled devices such as food warmers and other insulated containers that keep foods out of the temperature danger zone (5-60oC)
- All equipment and utensils are clean, functioning, well maintained and made of food grade material (e.g. stainless steel, food grade plastic)
- If food is being sold from a vehicle, the vehicle should be clean and well maintained
- The vendor’s personal behavior does not compromise food safety (e.g. he/she is not eating, drinking, chewing gum, smoking or chattering excessively whilst preparing food)
- Food packaging materials such as boxes, paper and bags are properly sealed and kept away from airborne contaminants, chemicals and any other hazards that can pose a food safety risk
- The vendor is not showing signs of illness such as excessive sneezing, coughing, runny eyes and nose, vomiting, having to use the washroom often and other such symptoms