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Food Safety at MTKO

Food safety is a priority at Matt Talbot Kitchen & Outreach. Our hunger relief volunteers are asked to follow safe food handling procedures to help us maintain a safe and clean kitchen. Please contact our Kitchen Manager, Sydne Wirrick-Knox, at 402-817-0622 or if you have any questions or concerns.

How Foodborne Illnesses Occur:

Unsafe food is usually the result of contamination, which is the presence of harmful substances in food. Contaminants are divided into three categories: Biological, Chemical and Physical. Each of these contaminants is a danger to food safety. However, biological contaminates are responsible for most foodborne illness .

How does food become unsafe? These are the five most common food-handling mistakes, or risk factors, that can cause a foodborne illness.

1. Purchasing food from unsafe sources
2. Failing to cook food correctly
3. Holding food at incorrect temperatures
4. Using contaminated equipment
5. Practicing poor personal hygiene

Most contaminants cause foodborne illness; others can result in physical injury. Contaminants come from a variety of places, and many are found in the animals we use for food; others come from the air, contaminated water and dirt; some from chemicals used in kitchen operations; and others occur naturally in food. Food can be contaminated on purpose, but most food contamination happens accidentally. Most contaminants get into food and onto food-contact surfaces because of the way that people handle them.

Biological Contaminants: Pathogens are the greatest threat to food safety. They include certain viruses, parasites, fungi, and bacteria. Some plants, mushrooms, and seafood that carry harmful toxins (poisons) are also included in this group. Of the 40 different kinds of pathogens, there are six that the FDA calls the Big Six. Most of the Big Six will sound very familiar to you: Shigella, Salmonella Typhi, Nontyphoidal Salmonella, E. coli, Hepatitis A, and Norovirus.

Symptoms of Foodborne Illness: The symptoms of a foodborne illness vary depending on the type of illness. However, most people with a foodborne illness share some common symptoms: diarrhea, vomiting, fever, nausea, abdominal cramps and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and eyes). Not everyone with a foodborne illness will have all of these symptoms and the onset time may range from 30 minutes to 6 weeks depending on the type of illness.