Many people like to have hotpot during cold weather and the ingredients are mainly raw foods. If they are not properly prepared or cooked, people may get sick from eating foods that are contaminated by pathogens. The most common pathogens are E.coli, Vibrio cholera, Hepatitis A and parasites. To ensure food safety, we have to follow the “5 keys to safer food” when having hotpot.
1. Select foods from reliable sources;
2. Select fresh and wholesome foods. Ensure meat and seafood are fresh. Do not buy any shellfish with non-intact shells;
3. When buying prepackaged food, check whether the packaging is intact and pay attention to the expiry date;
4. Upon buying frozen food products, check whether they are already turning soft or dripping water, as these are indications that the storage temperature is improper;
5. The water used for cultivating marine products should be clean and hygienic. Check if the marine products produce any objectionable odor and whether the shells of shellfish are intact and undamaged.
1. Wash hands with soap prior to handling foods or eating;
2. Wash hands thoroughly after handling raw foods to avoid cross-contamination with cooked foods;
3. If there is a wound on the hand, cover it properly with a waterproof bandage before handling foods;
4. Wash vegetables thoroughly;
5. Cut meat into thin slices to allow thorough cooking;
6. Scrub and rinse shellfish thoroughly and remove the viscera before cooking.
Separate raw and cooked foods
1. When shopping for hotpot ingredients, buy prepackaged foods first and raw meat, poultry and seafood last;
2. Raw and prepackaged foods should be stored separately. Different types of fresh foods should be stored separately as well;
3. Use two separate sets of chopsticks and utensils to handle raw and cooked foods.
Keep foods at safe temperatures
1. Store cooked foods above raw foods in the refrigerator;
2. Do not defrost frozen foods in room temperature. Thawing should be done under running water, in a refrigerator or inside a microwave;
3. If the prepared food are perishable, they should be placed in lidded container and stored in the chiller at under 5º C to prevent bacterial growth.
1. Add foods to boiling water only;
2. Hotpot food must be cooked thoroughly and avoid putting too much food into the pot as it will cause uneven heat distribution. When raw food is put into the pot or the soup is refilled, it is necessary to wait until the soup comes to a boil before eating any food from the pot;
3. Seafood has to be cooked thoroughly before eating;
4. Different types of foods require different cooking time. Therefore, it’s best to divide foods by type for cooking in hotpot;
5. Eggs must be washed thoroughly to remove the dirt on the shell before cooking;
6. Avoid putting raw eggs into the sauce for seasoning the cooked food as they are high-risk food for salmonella contamination. Vulnerable individuals, like pregnant women and elders, should pay particular attention to this;
7. Slice fish and meat into thin pieces and cut meat balls deep into their centre to allow fast and thorough cooking.
Besides from ensuring food safety, we should always maintain a balanced diet. Eat more vegetables with high dietary fibre and fewer meats and seafood.
Be health conscious while enjoying hotpot
1. Balanced diet –consume more vegetables, beans and less high-fat food;
2. Avoid drinking the soup–As the hotpot soup is rich in sodium ions, potassium ions and purine, it is advisable to drink as little as possible, particularly for those who suffer from gout, high blood pressure and diabetes;
3. Avoid eating excessive food to prevent loading the gastrointestinal heavily with food. Do not consume food while they are too hot since the gastrointestinal organs are not very heat sensitive. Such intake is harmful to the mucous membrane of the organs and may cause gastrointestinal discomfort;
4. Adequate intake–Do not consume too much deep sea fish and shellfish to minimize the chance of food-poisoning.