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Texture Modified Foods And The Importance Of Sound Hygiene Practices

by Andrew Thomson on April 15, 2019

You’ve all heard about the new International Dysphagia Diet Standards (IDDSI Standards) and you may have attended a workshop, so you and your team are better informed.

The Standards apply on May 1, 2019.

The matter of food safety needs elevation here.

The preparation of texture modified foods (and thickened fluids) requires special attention.  It requires food handling employees to practice good standards of hygiene which can then minimise contamination or cross contamination of food.

The introduction of these new Standards will prompt you to conduct a review of food handling activities as your food safety program may no longer control the hazards or new food safety hazards (through changing processes) have been identified. It is a critical activity to undertake to ensure its adequacy and effectiveness to maintain the safety of food provided to clients.

The risks……

  • Insufficient detail in the food safety program.
  • Incorrect food handling practices.
  • Food handlers unable to demonstrate an understanding of the food safety hazards associated with their work and know how to control those hazards.
  • Incorrect use and storage of cleaning and sanitising chemicals.
  • Breakdown in sharing information between shifts regarding the correct use and cleaning of stick blenders or other pieces of mechanical equipment.
  • Inadequate maintenance of equipment and dishwashers
  • No air drying of equipment.

Food poisoning outbreak

In an outbreak of food poisoning in a Melbourne aged care facility in June 1997 at least 20 clients were ill with moderately severe diarrhoea and one patient had died. An investigation was undertaken by the Victorian Department of Human Services at the time. Food handling and hygiene practices were reviewed. Twenty five residents had diarrhoea. Illness was associated with having consumed texture modified food.  C. perfringens was also isolated from the cool-room door handle. Several errors in food handling were identified, including failure to reheat texture modified food prior to service. The temperature of the cool-room was 12°C. Contributing factors may have been inadequate temperature control during cooking and storage, and the modification process. (Victorian Department of Human Services).

Prevention relies on proper cooking, rapid chilling of cooked food for storage, and adequate reheating prior to serving.

The solutions….

  • For food safety to be guaranteed, training is essential at all levels within a food operation. Food handlers and managers need to have a high degree of understanding of hygiene and food safety to ensure effective control.
  • Effective cleaning and sanitising of equipment are important for preventing the growth of potential pathogens in food residues on the equipment.
  • It is important to remember auditors and/or food regulators will be (or should be) looking for evidence of a review taking place.

Footnote…

NSW Food Authority has produced a fact sheet Preparation of Texture Modified Food which provides some useful information.

There are no microbiological levels of food equipment included in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.