Enjoying Hotpot Safely at Restaurants
In winter time, hotpot is a popular choice when we dine out with friends. With a great variety of hotpot ingredients, consumers can choose whatever they like to eat. However, if hotpot ingredients are not handled properly or cooked thoroughly, we will ingest not only food but also viruses or bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
When enjoying hotpot at restaurants, we should apply 5 Keys to Food Safety (i.e. Choose, Clean, Separate, Cook and Safe Temperature) from selection of a restaurant to handling and cooking of food in order to ensure food safety.
First, we should choose a reliable restaurant. A reliable restaurant could not only offer a pleasant dining environment, but also provide safe food to customers. When choosing a restaurant, we should pay attention to the hygiene of its environment, the storage conditions of food, personal hygiene of the staff, etc as these are the criteria for determining whether it is a good choice.
When enjoying hotpots at restaurants, we should keep hands and utensils clean. Before handling food ingredients and eating, wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for 20 seconds and dry them with paper towel. If there is a wound on your hand, wrap it properly and avoid direct contact with the food.
When cooking, we must handle raw and cooked food with extra care and separate them completely. Do not put too many dishes on the table to avoid food-to-food cross-contamination. Also, it is preferable to use separate sets of chopsticks and utensils with different appearances to handle raw and cooked food respectively.
Cooking thoroughly is the most important principle for enjoying hotpot safely. Whenever water or soup is added, take food out of the pot only after it is boiling hot. Seafood should be boiled for at least five minutes and ensure that all foods are cooked thoroughly before consumption. As raw eggs are on offer as hotpot ingredient or ready-to-eat food in many restaurants, customers must check the conditions of eggs. Eggs with cracked shells should be discarded immediately as they are prone to be contaminated by pathogens. Wash hands thoroughly after coming into contact with eggs. Do not consume cooked food that are mixed with raw eggs as pathogens may be present in raw eggs.
If you take leftovers home from a restaurant, cool them quickly and put them in the refrigerator within two hours. Also, leftovers should not be kept in the refrigerator for longer than three days or reheated more than once.
To enjoy hotpot happily and safely, observe the 5 Keys to Food Safety that can help prevent most foodborne diseases.