How to Maintain Food Safety in HospitalsSurbhi Dixit
What is food safety?
Food safety means the way food is handled, prepared, and stored to prevent subsequent food-borne illnesses and product contamination. Food-borne diseases result from a lack of food safety in health care. Outbreaks because of issues related to food safety of health care institutions like hospitals are just unpleasant, and in the worst case, they are life-threatening. Food safety includes practices that ensure that the food provided is consumed safely.
Why is food safety important?
Due to the nature of the hospital, it is a powerful source of all types of infectious diseases. Infection control protocols should be essentially in place to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria among patients, visitors, caretakers, and staff. A very significant part of the healing process is eating nutritious foods. Another important reason to maintain healthy food facilities is to provide nutritious meals for employees working under stressful conditions to promote optimal performance.
Common allergens and their effect on the body
Hospital catering staff must understand why they have to perform food safety tasks and why they need food safety tasks. For example, workers in the food service industry know that cooking food at a particular temperature kills bacteria and can understand why it is essential to check the final temperature of the food before serving it to the patient.
Food safety is a second property by physical objects, bacteria, parasites, viruses, chemicals, and humans to understand how food can be contaminated. Until then, not only initial training but also re-education courses are required.
Food safety challenges in healthcare
- Lack of food safety and outbreaks arising from it can cause serious illness, waste of costly medical care, the transmission of infection to visitors and other patients, preventable death, and employees’ interruption of services.
- Food safety is relevant to everyone, but vulnerable people are more likely to be affected by low-level pathogens and, therefore, more likely to be infected. This puts even greater responsibility on medical institutions to do everything possible to ensure that safe food is always prepared and served.
- Most hospitals outsource food services. However, this does not exempt patients and staff from their responsibility to provide safe food. Hospital managers need to apply appropriate standards to food safety management systems and comply with legal requirements. It should be defined as part of the selection protocol and a continuous evaluation of the service provider.
- Regular internal audits need to be authenticated by hospitals. Food safety issues in food cooking facility health and food safety management systems are as crucial as other infection control reviews.
Prevention of food poisoning in hospitals
The hospital itself is the source of infection. Without rigorous procedures, dangerous microorganisms like pathogens, viruses, etc., can disseminate among patients, administrative staff, nursing staff, and visitors.
The most common transmission routes are:
- Contaminated food
- Person-to-person communication
- Contaminated surface or object
Hospitals usually do an excellent job of preventing food poisoning using three critical strategies:
- Implement a robust food safety program
- Daily monitoring and recording
- Food Safety Training and Certification Implementing
Implement a robust food safety program
1. Robust Food Safety Programs
Food cooked in hospital kitchens is outsourced from external suppliers. Ideally, hospitals can expect these food suppliers to meet strict hygiene standards and follow effective food safety protocols and best practices to prevent food contamination. Unfortunately, this is not true. In most hospital food poisoning, the cause of the infection can be traced back to procurement.
- Food or raw materials can be contaminated when delivered. Therefore, all incoming foods should be tested for physical, chemical, biological, and allergic risks.
- Failure to adhere to this critical control can have disastrous consequences.
- In the worst case, hospitals must consider thorough criticism and testing.
2. Hospitals need to implement a thorough food safety program based on the HACCP principles.
Food safety programs help establish, implement, and manage the management policies and procedures necessary to maintain food safety and provide patients with safe and healthy food. In addition, hospitals can schedule regular inspections by local and state regulators.
- Managers, catering staff, and supervisors must perform daily inspections of the kitchen and all food processing areas.
- Foodservice supervisors should also check food tray accuracy, temperature, and distribution. It is imperative to use valuable feedback stated by patient satisfaction surveys to identify areas for improvement.
Daily monitoring and recording
Keeping cold food is a matter of life or death in the hospital, as viruses, bacteria, etc., usually survive and multiply within a set temperature range.
- Temperature monitoring is a common and essential method in hospitals and includes monitoring.
- Refrigerator temperature
- Final cooking temperature
- Food temperature before and after serving
- Dishwasher temperature
- Accurate records should be maintained and archived using a daily checklist. For example:
- Temperature log
- Report on patient meals accuracy
- Quality audit by an external company
Food safety training and certification
Most hospitals require catering staff at all hospitals to complete nationally recognized food safety training courses, with at least one food safety officer on staff at all times. Therefore, all people associated with delivering, providing, or procuring food within the hospitals need to be educated on safe food handling practices, various types of food contamination, personal hygiene, food-borne diseases, and HACCP principles. In addition, management staff should also receive basic training on safe food handling practices.
The Food Safety Training Workshop should be mandatory for all hospital staff before operating in the kitchen or servicing patients. The workshop should include:
- Proper cooling, freezing, thawing, and reheating of food
- Effective cleaning and disinfection practices
- Symptoms of food poisoning and how they occur
- The most commonly associated pathogens of food poisoning
- High-risk foods and associated risks
Health and hygiene of grocery stores
Grocery stores in all hospitals (and grocery stores in all industries) need to understand that a high level of personal hygiene is essential. General rules for hospital food workers include, but are not limited to: Grocery stores should wear clean jackets and hair restraints such as hats, hairnets, and beard restraints.
- Grocery stores need to shorten fingernails and frequently clean the underside of the nails with soap and water.
- Food handlers must use gloves, parchment paper, or food-handling equipment to handle the finished food.
- Wherever possible, grocery stores should use touch-free or hands-free paper towel dispensers and faucets to reduce the risk of mutual contamination.
- Grocery stores with symptoms such as diarrhea, sore throat, vomiting, and fever should quit their jobs immediately and report to the line manager and the hospital’s occupational health department.
- Grocery stores should cover cuts, wounds, or open wounds with high-quality waterproof bandages on their hands and arms.
Food Safety Benefits
1. Disease and Death Prevention
Outbreaks in hospitals are more severe due to the high population density of people at risk. As a result, attacks can lead to future disability and death that could have been avoided. In addition, diseases of the most common food-infected organisms can quickly spread unless special attention is paid to food safety.
2. Avoiding food hygiene related inconveniences and confusions
This can lead to significant service disruptions if employees are affected or uncomfortable. This can also have severe consequences and harm to patients, primarily if an outbreak occurs and many employees are ill, ultimately becoming a significant problem in continuing to provide hospital services.
3. Optimal performance and resilience
In severe cases, closure of the ward or the hospital burdens the clinical team and those who have to deal with extra work from their neighbors. In addition, it may take several months for service to return to normal, significantly if specialized facilities are affected.
4. Protecting the reputation of the facility
Protecting your credibility and increasing patient confidence in the hospital’s potential to care for them.
5. Avoiding Expensive Treatment and Waste of Other Resources
By avoiding food poisoning, healthcare providers can avoid unnecessary costs. For example, if an unnecessarily infected patient or employee occupies a bed, this eliminates the need for additional treatment. In addition, the number of working days lost due to staff illness or additional bedtime due to patient disease can be significantly accumulated.
Hospital food safety and hygiene requires undivided, strict, and special attention to robust precautions to minimize the risk of food-borne diseases. A high concentration of vulnerable patients can provide a highly favorable environment for spreading pathogens, viruses, and bacteria from sources like contaminated diets. Therefore, the importance of food handlers and cleanliness related to food hygiene is consistently emphasized.