Farmer's Diary: Consequences of poor food storage

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By Michael J. Ssali

Posted  Wednesday, December 4  2013 at  00:00

The reason why rats are commonly found around garbage heaps is that there is free food for them to eat. Other small animals such as lizards or even birds frequent these places to scavenge for whatever food they can eat.

Insects like cockroaches and flies can be found there as well.Then, the same insects and vermin visit our houses to share our food. They do not clean themselves or disinfect their little legs before settling on the stored fruits, vegetables or fish.

They are known to visit pit latrines and septic tanks before resting on our harvested foodstuffs such as pineapples or tomatoes that we enjoy eating raw. In most cases, they drop their excreta on the food items.

Common means
Some people dispose of poisonous material in the garbage over which a cockroach or a rat may pass before settling on harvested fruits or even baked bread.

In the long food value chain--from the farm to the fork--there are many food handlers that need some reminding that poorly kept food gets exposed to dirty insects and vermin, which can cause illness to the consumers.

Poor food handling is one of the common means by which infections such as dysentery, typhoid and cholera occur. It introduces unpleasant odours to foodstuff and exposes people to poison picked from a rubbish heap by insects or vermin.

Kept clean
The farmer like all other food handlers must be very careful about storage of the harvested food by strictly practicing hygiene and sanitation principles and practices.

Where garbage is disposed should not be too close to the home and it should be regularly buried or burnt to discourage rats breeding there.

The toilet or latrine must be well maintained and kept clean all the time. Food should be kept in well-maintained containers. The farmer and other food handlers should ensure they wash their hands always after visiting the toilet or after cleaning animal houses or after handling poultry or animal feeds.

And since many of our food crops (potatoes, yams, and cassava) are dug directly from the soil, they ought to be thoroughly washed.