We get a glimpse of only the end product and the actual chances of seeing and learning what goes in between are almost negligible. But right from sowing and harvesting to packing and transporting food safety is extremely integral to avoid impending dangers or food-related risks. This is ensured with the help of different processes such as canning, freezing, drying, irradiation and pasteurization. All of these methods strive in their own way to safeguard the food and protect it from bacteria that might cause food poisoning. Each of the methods are explained in detail below:
This is one of the best ways to preserve shelf life until the container is sealed and intact without any hampering. Canned veggies, fruits, tuna or fish are sure occupants of our kitchen cabinets whose nutrients are preserved as good as the fresh ones until the can is in good condition. Before any food is canned it is washed and peeled to remove pesticide residues, the can is sterilized and the food is finally cooked at a high temperature to destroy bacteria and stored inside the can. There are minimum chances that nutrients might be lost while cooking at high temperature and the nutritive value of the canned food depends on how you choose them-don’t go for veggies that are canned using salt or fruits that are dipped in sugar syrup.
While freezing is a great option for storing veggies, meat and fish its highly disruptive to freeze eggs encased in shells and canned foods. Freezing is a way of storing food for as long as you want when the only downside is the quality of the food that gets impacted. This is a method which stores food at a temperature which doesn’t make way for the growth of harmful microorganisms, between 40˚F and 140˚F. Both, the nutrients and the quality of the foods remain intact for a longer time period in freezing than in any other processing method.
We have seen our grandmothers dry many foods in our verandas and I believe this is the oldest method of preserving food. Here, the moisture content is removed and the food is stored safely without the need for any refrigeration. Fruits, veggies, fish, meat, nuts and beans are mostly stored using this process. Bacteria thrive on water and when moisture is removed from these foods there is no scope for the bacteria to grow or exist. Once dried, these foods stay good at room temperature. Sometimes, we use preservatives such as salt to safeguard the foods depending on the type of food that we dry.
The very word brings to our mind a glass of pure white milk. Pasteurization is a process that’s used to heat milk (predominantly), juice and eggs to a high enough temperature such that all the harmful bacteria and enzymes that can spoil the food are killed outright. While unpasteurized foods are not good for any of us some people like pregnant women, young children, older adults and those with a weakened immune system must never ever consume any of it as this increases the risk of food poisoning.
Foods such as fruits, vegetables, spices, eggs, seafood and meats use radiant energy to prevent spoiling of food and kill any pathogens that might cause food poisoning.
All these methods are sure-shot ways to keep our food safe but we should never compromise on our way of cooking and handling the foods. The methods to keep food safe while cooking too are equally important to avoid food poisoning issues. For a detailed list of these methods and how to implement them please visit www.firsteatright.com.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.