September: Keeping Food Safe for Koreans and Canadians

Maintaining cleanliness in your life is fundamental in order to live a healthy life. It is important to wash your body every day, and it is especially important to eat good food and stay cool during a hot summer. The humidity is high in summer and mold grows easily, so if you eat the wrong food, it can easily harm your health. Cleanliness, cleanliness, cleanliness! Everyone should remember this and pay attention to food safety.

The Winnipeg Free Press reported on July 10, 2018 that more than 50 Winnipeg restaurants and pools were temporarily closed or fined because they were unclean and unsanitary. As you can see from this report, it is not always easy for everyone to maintain cleanliness. The public sector needs to maintain cleanliness at a higher standard than any other sector because these restaurants and pools are used every day.

Some of these violations of public health and safety were caused by starting a business before a license was granted or starting a business without registering, but the biggest problems were regarding unhygienic performance and unsanitary processes. Examples include the process of preparing and selling food and the disinfection of dishwashers, kitchen utensils, tables, and equipment being below sanitary standards.

One of the first things the public should pay attention to is the prevention of these types of violations. People who have a business should not make money by risking the health of their guests. It is important to recognize that individuals who are in a food facility could cause illness or food poisoning when their hygiene is not adequate.

The way Koreans traditionally stay healthy and safe while coping with the summer heat seems a little different from how Canadians cope. For example, Koreans eat very hot soups that make them sweat to make up for the lost energy from the hot sun during the summer. This method, known as the heat of the fever (heat controlled by heat), is a way of feeling that the temperature is lower. People who do not like hot soups or food may be at higher risk of exposure to Salmonella or Escherichia coli, the main pathogens of summer.

The Korean Food and Drug Administration and the National Security Agency recommend three safety principles to prevent food poisoning: eating fully cooked food, boiling, and hand washing. This comes from the wisdom of Korean ancestors who boiled the food in the traditional way, thereby reducing the common high-risk summer bacteria and ensuring food safety.

On the other hand, unlike Koreans, it is unlikely that there are summer meals in Canada that are specially made to beat the heat of summer. They just eat what they usually eat and prepare the food as usual. There is no tradition of ensuring food safety by boiling like in Korea.

Of course, people with specific religious beliefs may have special summer meals based on their customs and culture. For example, according to Mennonites who settled in Canada a long time ago (Neuybergthal Village, Altona, Manitoba), they have a summer lunch that is composed of a cold potato salad, bread, ham and mousse.

In Canada, there are no special recreational foods. Instead, people greet each other by saying “Stay cool.” As Winnipeg weathered well over 30 degrees Celsius and the days of high humidity continued, statements were posted on public buildings, cautioning about the heat and reminding people how to protect the skin from burning.

Although Canadians do not eat boiled-down soups like Koreans do to make sure they are safe in the summer, Canadians seem to have good hygiene practices. For example in many public buildings there are three detached kitchen sinks, where dishes are first washed in hot water with kitchen detergent and then rinsed in hot water before being disinfected. Keeping the food handling area clean and disinfecting kitchen tools and sinks is critical particularly in summer.

If there are restaurants that have not passed the Government of Manitoba Ministry of Health and Hygiene standards where employees are less aware of sterilization and cleanliness, they must be trained again. Cleanliness and disinfection are fundamental issues of food safety in any country; therefore, the Canadian food safety standards must be kept regardless of backgrounds and nationalities. The problem of cleaning and disinfecting is not a difficult problem to solve, but a difference in perception of food safety.

No one wants to spend time going to a hospital due to food poisoning this hot summer. Whether you eat Korean food at home or you just eat as Canadians do, you should eat clean food in a clean place and spend the summer well. Food safety must begin with the maintenance and disinfection that we all must observe.

(Olivia Do is a social worker who graduated from the social work program at the University of Manitoba.)

August: 환자 간병에 있어서의 난제