Avoid the kitchen nightmare during Halloween. Let’s make sure the scary bits are in the decor and not in the food that you are serving.
Follow these food safety tips:
- Give your child a good meal before trick-or-treating to prevent them from snacking on candy and treats. Urge them to wait until they get home before eating them and let you inspect the treats in their bags.
- Tell children not to accept – and especially not to eat – anything that isn’t commercially wrapped.
- Inspect all treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
- Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys.
- Consider providing non-food treats for children that visit your home, such as coloring and activity books.
- Unpasteurised juice or cider can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella. To stay safe, always serve pasteurised products at your parties.
- Don’t taste raw cookie dough or cake batter that contain uncooked eggs
- Keep all perishable foods chilled until serving time. These include finger sandwiches, cheese platters, fruit or tossed salads, cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, or seafood, and cream pies or cakes with whipped-cream and cream-cheese frostings.
- Don’t leave perishable goodies out of the fridge for more than two hours.
- Bobbing for apples is a favorite Halloween game. Reduce the number of bacteria that might be present on apples and other raw fruits and vegetables by thoroughly rinsing them under cool running water. As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
Try a different bobbing for apples game from FightBAC.org.
- Cut out apples from red construction paper. Write activities for kids to do on each apple, such as “say ABCs.”
- Place a paper clip on each apple and put them in a large basket.
- Tie a magnet to a string or make a fishing pole with a dowel rod, magnet and yarn.
- Let the children take turn “bobbing” with their magnet and doing the activity written on their apple.
- Give children a fresh apple for participating in your food-safe version of bobbing for apples.
If your child has a food allergy, check the label to ensure the allergen isn’t present. Do not allow the child to eat any home-baked goods he or she may have received.
If you have very young children, be sure to remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys.
No matter how tempting, don’t taste raw cookie dough or cake batter.
It’s Pumpkin season
Traditionally, Halloween kicks off the “everything pumpkin” season. Being made into rolls, pies, latte, butter, bread, muffins, jellies and various processed products.
When prepared correctly, pumpkins are relatively healthy and a delicious additive.
However, it’s important to know how to keep the pumpkins away from pathogens like Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, E.coli and S.aureus as these micro-organisms could make a person very sick.
If cut pumpkin is not processed, packed, or stored properly, it can provide the right environment for harmful bacteria to survive, grow, and spread.
Therefore, during the cutting and packing of pumpkins, the following food safety tips are essential:
- Select good quality pumpkins – Reject over-ripe raw pumpkins that have big patches of broken, diseased, moldy, spotty, or pale skin. A good pumpkin has unblemished, intact, and bright-orange colored skin.
- Wash adequately before cutting – Wash the pumpkin under running warm water (with clean hands) to remove soil and to significantly reduce the microbial load on the skin. Wash every surface area of the pumpkin for 2-3 minutes. The crease lines and the areas around the stalk must be thoroughly cleaned as these spots potentially harbor a lot of soil and bacteria.
- Ensure tools, surfaces, and equipment used are adequately cleaned and sanitized – To avoid any cross-contamination from pathogens and foreign material, clean and appropriately sanitize the equipment, work surfaces, knives, and scoops. This step should be done well in advance of processing the pumpkin.
4. Work in a hygienically clean environment
- Keep all food contact and non-food contact surfaces and areas are in good and sanitary condition.
5. Follow good personal hygiene practices
- If you’re making pumpkin products at home, you should wash your hands before starting and after cleaning the pumpkin.
- If you have long hair, be sure to tie it back before setting foot into the kitchen.
- In a food processing plant, those who handle the pumpkin must follow good manufacturing practices at all times.
- Staff must wear a hairnet, wash their hands properly, put on clean work uniforms. This prevents the spread of germs during the actual processing operation.
6. Discard the waste properly to avoid unhygienic conditions
- Pumpkins should have the top with the stock removed first.
- Then, the pumpkin can be sliced into the desired sizes and shapes, from thin slices to thick cubes.
- Seeds can be laid out to dry, and the inedible middle portion of the pumpkin should be disposed of immediately.
7. Pack and date
- Shrink-wrap or heat-seal the exposed product using clear, clean, and dust-free polythene film.
- The date should be added to remind yourself that the 2 day limit has passed.
8. Refrigerate the processed product during storage or transport
- Refrigerate the product at 4°C (32° F), within 2 hours of processing, to ensure the safety and quality of the packed product.
- During transportation, ensure that the juices do not leak from the package, as this may create a breeding ground for germs to grow and spread.
9. Clean the equipment, surfaces, and area thoroughly after cooking or preparing
- Ensure that the kitchen tops, equipment, and tools are cleaned and appropriately sanitised, to maintain the sanitation and hygiene of the preparation area.
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