MANILA, Philippines – An official of the Department of Health (DOH) reminded Filipinos to be more careful in preparing and consuming food as diarrhea and other food-borne illnesses are more common during the summer months.
Engr. Roland Santiago of the DOH’s environmental and occupational health office told ANC that unclean hands and improper food preparation are the most common causes of food contamination, which can lead to diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and typhoid fever.
Other causes of food- and water-borne diseases include unsafe sources of drinking water, unhygienic practices such as spitting anywhere, and street food.
“The bacteria go to the food. When you eat the food, you get the bacteria,” Santiago said.
He said food handlers such as workers in restaurants and fast food chains should first undergo a medical examination to make sure that they are not carriers of bacteria and disease.
Parents, meanwhile, are encouraged to prepare packed lunches and snacks for their children who are going to school.
“Mothers should prepare food for their kids so they won’t have to buy from street food vendors,” Santiago said.
“Food should maintain a temperature less than 5 degrees when served cold. When it should be served hot, dapat hot talaga,” he added.
Citing the World Health Organization, Santiago also cited five ways to keep food safe and clean:
- Keep clean. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap before handling food.
- Separate raw and cooked foods. Do not use the same knife or any other utensil for raw and cooked foods. When buying groceries, make sure that the two are in separate bags.
- Cook foods thoroughly. Unless it is intended (such as cooking a medium rare steak), make sure that meats, seafood and vegetables are completely cooked.
- Keep food at safe temperatures. Bacteria starts to enter food two hours after it is prepared.
- Use safe water and raw materials when preparing food. Make sure that the fruits and vegetables are thoroughly washed, and the meats and seafood are still safe to eat. If you are not sure if the water is safe, boil it for 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, Santiago said those who think they have food-borne illnesses should seek treatment, especially if symptoms persist or are severe.
Common symptoms of food- and water-borne illnesses include bloody diarrhea, excessive nausea and vomiting, and high body temperature.