Bacteria – Good and Bad

19th May 2017·Hints & Tips

Bacteria can multiply quickly, given the right conditions and their effects on the health of the body can be either a good or bad thing.

Yoghurt contains healthy bacteria that can benefit your digestive system, but conversely if you allow chilled food to get warm before eating, for example in a picnic scenario, the dangers to your health can rise exponentially as bacteria can multiply at a rapid rate and cause illness when you eat the food.

In certain conditions bacteria can multiply every 20 to 30 minutes, so it is important to practice proper food preparation and cooking techniques to prevent people from falling ill.

Bacterial Growth

Each bacterium contains the genetic information to enable it to create a new, identical bacterium. Recent research reveals that bacterium can double every 20 to 30 minutes which means that from a single bacterium cell, millions can be created within a few hours. And that’s not the worst of it; while food may contain millions of bacterium cells, as few as 10 E.coli bacteria can make you ill, so it is very important to maintain the highest standards of hygiene, both personal and preparation areas to avoid the spread of these cells.

Because bacteria are microscopic, it is extremely difficult to detect and with an estimated one million bacteria fitting inside one square inch, including some fairly health-threatening organisms such as salmonella enteritidis, staphylococcus aureus, clostridium botulinum and listeria monocytogenes. And these bacteria can grow rapidly. If a piece of food has 1,000 bacteria on it, given the right conditions, they could number more than 32 million five hours later.

By minimising these conditions, you can prevent bacterial growth that could lead to illness. For example, temperature is critical – the hotter an environment, the more likely the bacteria are to grow.

Bacteria love to eat protein, which means foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products and seafood can be ideal breeding grounds for bacteria. Moisture also breeds bacteria with  dry foods being less likely to foster bacterial growth than foods that are ‘wetter’.

Top Tips

To keep bacteria from multiplying quickly, it’s important to keep food in a controlled temperature safe zone such as in the refrigerator or the freezer. When you cook food, do so thoroughly, bringing bacteria to a high temperature, thus killing them. That’s why the current trend of ‘pink’ hamburgers is so inherently dangerous; while properly stored and prepared ingredients for the burgers will render them fairly safe to eat, any breakdown in the hygiene chain could lead to some fairly nasty consequences.

It is important to store foods in a chilled state before eating – there are some literally killer buffets out there!

But one of the most critical and most impactful measures in bacteria control is the personal hygiene of the food preparer. Keeping your hands well washed and cooking surfaces spotlessly clean will reduce the likelihood that bacteria will be transmitted. Keeping raw and cooked foods separate is important too.

Maintaining high standards of hygiene in a commercial establishment is not just common sense, it’s a legal requirement, and the team at NWR Hygiene offers a whole package of measures and interventions to help maintain the highest levels of hygiene in your business, all delivered with professional efficiency.

Call us – you will be glad you did.

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