Five Keys to Food Safety

Come in and get the keys to ensure safe eating and prevention of food-borne diseases.

What are the Five Keys to Food Safety?

Eating is perhaps one of the most important and enjoyable activity for humans.  However, it is also known that one may get sick after eating food contaminated by bacteria, virus, toxins, other chemical or physical substances.  Although the efforts put in by various sectors of the government and the community lay a solid foundation for the safe food supply and environmental hygiene, science has shown that paying attention to five steps of these processes and safe food practices by the individuals will achieve the best results in a synergy.  Advocated by the World Health Organization (WHO) over the past years, the five keys to food safety has been shown to be handy tips for anyone in the trade or domestic settings to ensure safe eating.

The five keys are:

Key 1: Choose

Key 2: Clean

Key 3: Separate

Key 4: Cook

Key 5: Safe Temperature

Using the Five Keys when you are Dining Out

Choose – Dine out in a licensed and hygienic restaurant. In Hong Kong, food premises selling sushi and sashimi or other high risk food will require a special permit.  Make sure you attend only those who are properly licensed under the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

Clean – Clean your hands before eating.

Separate – Use different utensils when required to handle raw and cooked food, say, when having hotpots buffets or Korean style BBQ.

Cook – It is safest to have cooked food served well done. If unsure whether the foods are thoroughly cooked, ask the restaurant staff to cook the foods again. If you prefer to have cuisine with food served raw such as sushi and sashimi, please choose a restaurant with the specific license and make sure that the food are cold enough.

Safe Temperature – Growth of bacteria or viruses most often occurs during the dangerous zone from 4oC to 60oC.  Therefore, eating food placed in room temperature for, say two hours, could be dangerous.

Using the Five Keys in Home Setting

Choose – Take a good look at the food products you are buying. Make sure the packing is intact, storage condition is proper, and watch out for the expiry date.

Clean – Clean your kitchens, chopping boards, utensils and refrigerators. Remember to wash your hands.  

Separate – Use separate kitchenware and utensils in the storage, preparation and other handling of raw and cooked food. Knives and chopping boards should be washed with hot water and detergent after use. When placed in a refrigerator, foods should be properly packed and raw food should be placed below cooked food.

Cook – Ensure all of your food is thoroughly cooked. Make sure that blood is not visible when the cooked meat is cut and their juices are clear, not red.

Safe Temperature – Do not leave any food in room temperature, especially the dangerous zone 4oC to 60oC, for more than two hours. Ensure your refrigerator and freezer function normally.

5 Keys to Food Safety – Practical Tips for Public (pdf file)Advice for consuming sushi and sashimiGuidelines for Safe Preparation and Handling of Poached Chicken - A Guide to Consumer(pdf file)

For the members of the Trade

There is a diversity of food business in Hong Kong serving various types of Chinese and Western cuisines and mixed dishes.  The Centre for Food Safety has developed guidelines, codes and other supportive tools for the trade to provide food at high standards of food safety.  You can check out the links below.

5 Keys to Food Safety – Handbook for Trade (pdf file)Trade Guidelines on Safe Production of Rice and Noodles (pdf file)Food Hygeine Guidelines for Chiu Chow Dishes (pdf file)Food Safety Guideline on Preparation of Sushi, Sashimi, Raw Oyster and Meat To Be Eaten Raw (pdf file)
Last revision date: January 2016