Professional pathways in health science seek to promote and manage public health. The general population has a basic right of accessing fresh, healthy, delicious and nutritious food (Garlough, 2010). As a matter of fact, it is imperative for food handlers to exercise the highest level of hygiene at their various places of work. This report explores how health is managed in shopping centers with a specific visit that was made at Macarthur square Woolworths. It was observed that the staff at Woolworths practiced poor storage and handling techniques for fruits and vegetables and that close to 20% of consumers were not keen on checking expired fruits and vegetables before buying them. Consumers have to be more cautious when purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables while the management at Woolworths should train its staff and also employ better storage and handling techniques for vegetables.
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The human race is vulnerable to infections and food poisoning by consuming stale, expired and sometimes unhealthy food substances at their disposal. Intake of such foods results in bacterial and even fungal infection. In addition, it may also be occasioned by the outbreak of water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid and dysentery among others. Infections of these kinds are more pronounced among vulnerable groups such as children, patients, elderly people and pregnant women (Scott & Sockett, 1998). The worst-hit foodstuffs provided for consumption are the perishable fruits and vegetables. They have the lowest counter life when compared to most processed foods. Fruits and vegetables are not commonly lined with preservatives bearing in mind that they only survive under cold and refrigeration. Many are times when consumers purchase fruits and vegetables that have outlived their shelf life. When customers do these purchases, they are oblivious of the fact that they are buying stale foods (Pitkethly & Wilson, 1994).
All consumers must be aware of the disease-causing bacteria present in rotting and decaying food. They include Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli (Dieudonné, 2010). In addition, costs associated with food poising are immense to both the individuals affected and the government at large (Garlough, 2010).
Survey on expired fruit and vegetables at Woolworths
The survey was carried out at the Woolworths consumer outlet store in order to determine whether consumers were aware of the expiry dates of fresh fruits and vegetables and the concurrent actions that were being taken by the staff to make sure that only fresh products were sold to shoppers.
After visiting the outlet, it was evident that most categories of fruits and vegetables stocked in the grocery section were equally unsuitable for human consumption due to ill storage. In any case, some of these fruits and vegetables and especially those that are sold fresh from farms are hardly labeled with expiry dates to alert consumers. This was rampant in my area of study at Macarthur square Woolworths consumer outlet store. There was possible contamination of fruits and vegetables since they were kept together with fresh meat and seafood. It is known quite well that foodstuffs that are rich in proteins such as meat, fish, and milk do harbor bacteria that multiply rapidly even at the ordinary room temperature (Dieudonné, 2010). It is also worth mentioning that bacterial thrive was expected after purchase since fruits and vegetables stayed for a considerable long period of time out of refrigeration condition. Moreover, I noted gross negligence in the storage of nuts and fresh legumes in this well-established chain store. The aforementioned products ought to be stored on dry containers or surfaces and where possible, they can also be kept in air-tight containers. Some of these foodstuffs are generally fatty in nature and as such, they needed to be stored in a relatively refrigerated or cold environment. Unfortunately, this was not the case at this consumers’ shopping outlet. It was evident that there was gross neglect on various health aspects when it came to the storage needs of various fruit and vegetable products. It is a requirement always to wash fruits and vegetables with a lot of non-detergent running water. This was not the case since washing was being done with little water in addition to the fact that fruits and green leafy vegetables were being washed together.
In addition, thick-skinned fruits and vegetables were not scrubbed thoroughly with a brush to remove surface dirt. Indeed, this would be one way through which consumption of these products would be unhealthy largely due to the fact that consumers often assume that upon buying fruits and vegetables from such chain stores, they are usually clean, free of bacterial infection and of course ready for consumption.
Summary of the survey
From the survey above, it was evident that close to 20 % of shoppers at Woolworths are usually not keen on checking expiry or infection signs on fruits and vegetables before buying them. Additionally, the staff at Woolworths lacks adequate knowledge on the proper storage and handling of fresh fruits and vegetables. It is quite unfortunate for such a well-established consumer outlet to lack well-trained staff who can secure the health of consumers through proper storage and handling of fruits and vegetables.
Fruits, vegetables and other perishable foods stocked at Woolworth, Sydney and Australia at large directly affect consumers. For this reason, any slight negligence may cost the government dearly in curbing ailments resulting from food poisoning. Producers need to be sensitized and educated on the importance of observing caution when growing and packaging fruits and vegetables. It must be clear to them that the health of the consumer must come first before they make their gains. Some fertilizers and chemicals used to boost the volume of harvests are usually toxic and can lead to infections and eventual death of those who consume such products (McInnes & Ellen, 1991).
On the other hand, consumers have no alternative but to be extra cautious when purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables. They ought to inspect fruits and vegetables willingly before picking them from the shelves and counters. It is also upon shoppers to check for visible signs such as rotting, pest infestation, splitting, and bruises on the surfaces of fruits and vegetables. These are some of the immediate signs that indicate whether fruits and vegetables are stale, decaying, or expiring. For vegetables, it is wise to choose from those that are tender, fresh, leafy, and green (Carr & Wondolowski, 2011).
In the case of cold-treated fruits and vegetables, they should be picked with vigilance since some could have outlived their dates of consumption while still under refrigeration. Howard (2011) notes that prolonged refrigeration of fruits and vegetables may lead to food poisoning. Before consuming any fruits or vegetables, always wash them with a lot of non-detergent running water. For all thick-skinned fruits and vegetables like potatoes and arrowroots, the use of a scrubbing brush to remove surface skin, soil, and dirt are highly recommendable (Williams, 2010).
At the grocery shops, all fruits and vegetables must have labels bearing the date of stocking and the expected date of expiry. Moreover, customers must be sensitized to ways of detecting stale food products. Consumers must adopt a ‘check the label policy’. They must always be aware of a ‘best before’ date to avoid consuming fruits and vegetables that have exceeded the ‘use-by’ date. To ensure their foodstuffs do not go stale, they must adhere to storage and cooking directives. It is also proper to make inquiries regarding food substances that are sold unpacked (Bibek & Bhunia, 2007).
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Carr, B. & Wondolowski, E. (2011). The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster. Austria: Thomson Learning. Dieudonné, A. (2010). Bacterial Food Poisoning: A Concise Exposition of the Etiology, Bacteriology, Pathology, Symptomatology, Prophylaxis, and Treatment of So- Called Ptomaine Poisoning, German Edition. Frankfurt, Germany: Peter Lang.
Garlough, R. (2010). Modern Food Service Purchasing: Business Essentials to Procurement. Victoria: Thomson Learning.
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Howard, G. (2011). Emergency, Preparedness, and More: A Manual on Food Storage and Survival. Sydney: Robertson Printing Press.
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