Reducing food waste through food hygiene

The purpose of food hygiene is to ensure the cleanliness and safety of food. However, food hygiene expertise can also influence the premature contamination of food. Good hygienic practices can significantly reduce food waste.

What is food waste?

Food waste is edible food that ends up in the trash for various reasons. Food waste is divided into two main categories: inevitable and avoidable waste. Food waste belongs to the latter category, i.e., avoidable waste. Food waste is not, for example, inedible organic waste, such as vegetable and fruit peels, bones, or remnants of paper towels.

Food waste occurs at every stage of food production, but its disposal as waste is harmful to the economy and the environment. Although food waste cannot be completely eliminated, its quantity can be significantly reduced.

How can food waste be reduced?

The occurrence of food waste can be avoided

  • by better anticipating food consumption,
  • by utilizing leftovers more efficiently,
  • and by understanding the basics of food hygiene.

Food hygiene can particularly influence the occurrence of food waste during food preparation and storage. A general understanding of food hygiene basics helps comprehensively understand food safety, and it provides various tips for food preservation. We have compiled the most important food hygiene tips for reducing food waste:

  1. Storage temperature of food
  2. Easily perishable foods
  3. Packaging labels
  4. Contamination of food
  5. Dry and freeze
  6. Get hygiene passport

1. Proper storage of food

Food retains its freshness and safety best when stored properly. Hygienic containers and storage utensils are crucial for this. Regular cleaning of the refrigerator and freezer prevents bacterial growth. Use tight storage containers to prevent air and bacteria from entering the food.

It is also important to know the correct storage temperatures for food: store cold products below +6 degrees Celsius and hot products above +60 degrees Celsius. Avoid keeping food between these temperatures.

Proper storage temperature ensures the safety and shelf life of food while preserving its flavor properties. This guidance is important both during transportation and storage. Make sure not to leave food in the "danger zone" for long periods. Cool foods quickly, for example, in a cold water bath.

2. Easily perishable foods

Easily perishable foods are a significant part of our diet, and their proper handling and storage are paramount. It is essential to store these foods properly separated from other products and ensure their safe use by following the storage temperature. This way, the risk of food poisoning can be minimized.

Easily perishable foods provide a conducive environment for the growth and reproduction of various microbes. Their proper handling and storage are necessary to maintain safety and quality.

Examples of easily perishable foods include animal-derived raw materials, chopped vegetables, and ready-to-eat meals.

3. Packaging labels

The best before date indicates the minimum shelf life of the product and is usually associated with products that are not easily perishable, such as pasta, porridge, or nuts. It indicates that the product's properties remain at their best until that date. Although the product can usually be eaten after the date, its properties may not be at their best.

The best before date is not used for easily perishable products, and caution must be exercised with these. The use-by date is important for easily perishable animal-derived foodstuffs, such as minced meat, raw meat, and chicken.

Dried products, such as pasta and porridge, usually remain edible even after the best before date if stored correctly. It is most important to trust your senses, such as sight, smell, and taste, when assessing the usability of the product.

4. Contamination of food

Food contamination refers to the transfer of harmful agents, such as microorganisms, chemicals, or foreign substances, to foods. Contamination can occur in several different ways, such as direct transfer from one food to another, through dirty water or pests, through dirty tools and surfaces, and through the hands of workers. Additionally, it can occur through droplet transmission, such as when coughing or sneezing.

Cross-contamination poses a significant risk to food safety, and it means that utensils and surfaces intended for handling raw and cooked foods must be kept separate and carefully cleaned in between. This is especially important for raw animal-derived foods.

Organize tasks so that they progress from cleaner to dirtier work. Maintain personal hygiene, such as washing hands before cooking and between tasks. Do not touch food with dirty hands or utensils.

5. Freezing and drying

Moisture is a key factor in microbial growth, especially bacteria. Drying is an effective way to remove moisture and prevent microbial growth. Dried products, such as fruits and meat, last longer because their moisture content has decreased.

Freezing is another way to control moisture. During freezing, water freezes, preventing microbial growth, although they are not destroyed. The freezer keeps the microbes inactive, and they cannot reproduce. Thus, freezing preserves the quality and safety of food for a long time.

Hygienic practices and reducing food waste go hand in hand. Cleanliness and safety are crucial for saving money and resources and reducing environmental impact. These practices benefit everyone, so adhering to them is essential.

6. Develop your hygiene competency!

Learning and understanding food hygiene-related issues is possible by participating in food hygiene courses. They are held regularly, and completing them can provide you with the necessary expertise and a hygiene passport.

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Book a time for a hygiene passport training here.

Sign up for the hygiene passport test and obtain your food hygiene competency.