Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Storing cooked food and leftovers in refrigerators after Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday is a cause of food poisoning, health experts said.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health during Tết holiday showed that more than 1,000 patients with symptoms of digestive disorders, food and liquor poisoning were admitted to hospitals nationwide.
On the second day of the holiday, Nguyễn Thu Hiền’s son in Hà Nội’s Hoàng Mai District got food poisoning from eating leftovers.
Hiền purchased a large amount of food and invited lots of friends over for celebrations. Instead of keeping the leftovers in a refrigerator, she left them on the dining table and covered them.
One hour after eating the leftovers, her son got a stomachache and felt nauseated. He was diagnosed with food poisoning from eating food contaminated with E.coli bacteria.
The digestive disorders and food poisoning were likely caused by storing leftovers in refrigerators, said doctor Nguyễn Anh Tuấn of Bạch Mai General Hospital’s Poisoning Prevention Centre in Hà Nội.
The warm weather and high humidity during the holiday were good conditions for bacteria to develop in food, if the food was not stored properly, he said.
Placing cooked food and raw food together in refrigerators creates a high risk of transmitting bacteria from raw food to cooked food, Tuấn said. The longer the food is stored in refrigerators, the higher the risk, he added.
To avoid food poisoning after Tết, health experts said people should get rid of leftovers that appear contaminated, especially processed food such as giò chả (Vietnamese ham and sausages), thịt đông (pork jelly), food that contains several types of spices and food that has been reheated several times.
Chưng cake leftovers that have been contaminated should not be served again despite they are considered the “holiday cake”, according to Lâm Quốc Hùng, head of the food poisoning monitoring division under the health ministry.
“Even after the mouldy parts have been cut off, the cake is unsafe,” he said.
Leftovers should be put in separate containers with covers or clean plastic bags before being put in a refrigerator, Hùng said. Raw food kept in the freezer should be defrosted by microwave or moved to the chiller compartment then at room temperature before being cooked, he added.
Since different levels of heat are required to kill bacteria in different foods, food that has been cooked and stored in refrigerators should be cooked in boiling water again before being served instead of only being reheated, he said.
Research from nutrition experts showed that keeping food in refrigerators for too long will reduce nutrition content and create harmful substances.
The freezing and defrosting processes will reduce one third of dissolved fat in meat and completely remove some other nutrients. The total nutrition content of the food will be reduced by 20 per cent after these processes. — VNS