Emphasizing Food Safety: Returning to the Basics Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Francine L. Shaw

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised global awareness about the importance of hygiene and safety in all aspects of life, including how we handle and consume food. As we gradually transition into a post-pandemic era, it is crucial to reevaluate and reinforce our commitment to food safety. One aspect that has gained prominence during the pandemic is using single-use gloves. This article will explore the basics of food safety, highlighting the importance of good hygiene practices while emphasizing the appropriate use of single-use gloves.

Food safety has always been paramount, but the pandemic has underscored its significance, ensuring we safeguard our food against spreading illnesses caused by bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. By adopting and maintaining proper food safety measures, we can protect ourselves, our families, and our communities from preventable diseases.

Returning to the basics of food safety involves a combination of personal hygiene, handling practices, and maintaining a clean food preparation environment. These fundamental principles act as pillars for safeguarding the well-being of consumers.

Personal Hygiene:

Proper personal hygiene remains essential, especially for those handling and preparing food. This includes regular handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, using the restroom, or touching high-contact surfaces.

Safe Food Handling:

Practicing safe food handling techniques reduces the risk of contamination. This includes storing raw and cooked food separately, keeping perishable items refrigerated, and cooking food to appropriate temperatures to kill harmful pathogens. Additionally, avoiding cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards, utensils, and plates for raw and cooked food is crucial.

Clean Preparation Environment:

Maintaining a clean and sanitized food preparation area is essential for minimizing the risk of foodborne illnesses. Regularly cleaning and disinfecting countertops, utensils, and equipment can help prevent the spread of pathogens. Additionally, ensuring that food handlers are in good health and follow proper sanitation protocols is vital.

The Role of Single-Use Gloves:

While personal hygiene and proper food handling practices are crucial, single-use gloves can provide an extra layer of protection when used correctly. Gloves can act as a barrier between the food and the handler, minimizing the potential transfer of pathogens. Here are some critical considerations for using gloves effectively:

  1. Glove Selection:

Choose gloves made from food-grade materials, such as nitrile, that are suitable for specific tasks and conditions. Consider allergen alerts if applicable.

  1. Proper Glove Usage:

Wash hands thoroughly before wearing gloves. Gloves should be worn when handling ready-to-eat foods, especially during direct contact. Change gloves between different tasks, such as handling raw and cooked food, or after touching potentially contaminated surfaces. Dispose of gloves after each use.

  1. Glove Limitations:

Gloves are not a substitute for proper hand hygiene. Hands should be washed and sanitized regardless of glove usage. Gloves can provide a false sense of security, so it is important to remember that they should be used in conjunction with other food safety practices.

As we move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritizing food safety is crucial in maintaining public health. By revisiting the basics, including personal hygiene, safe food handling practices, and a clean preparation environment, we can safeguard ourselves and our communities. While single-use gloves can provide an extra layer of protection, it is essential to remember that they are not a standalone solution. By combining proper glove usage with other food safety measures, we can ensure a healthier and safer future for all.

Francine L. Shaw, food safety specialist, podcaster, and co-founder of My Food Source, is a successful entrepreneur, author, and speaker who spent 20+ years working in the foodservice industry. Her career has included performing services (operating partner, corporate/private trainer, health inspector, 3rd party inspector, adjunct professor) in various sectors of the foodservice industry. She has written hundreds of articles for national trade magazines and appeared on Dr. Oz, the BBC World Series Radio, and iHeart Radio as a food safety expert.