An assessment on food safety of takeout pho in Vietnamese restaurants
Keywords:Takeout, Take away, Pho, Foodborne illness, Vietnamese, Raw beef
Background and Purpose: Foodborne illness associated expenditures cost the health care system an estimate of $100 million per year (1). Although the best approach in handling foodborne illnesses is through prevention, it becomes a challenge when it involves choosing between food associated risk or food quality. Take out pho (traditional Vietnamese noodle soup) poses a significant food safety concern when the raw beef and broth are packaged separately. The decreasing temperature of the broth presents a questionable critical control step. If the raw beef is not properly cooked, potential pathogens like E.coli can survive and cause foodborne illness. The following study examines the risk of foodborne illnesses associated with takeout pho and determines whether the broth can achieve an adequate temperature of 70°C to completely pasteurize the raw beef after twenty minutes. Methods: Thirty samples of takeout pho were collected from thirty Vietnamese restaurants within Vancouver and Burnaby, BC. Statistical analysis was performed using a Z-test to compare the median mixed temperature with the cooking standard of 70°C using a Z-test after twenty minutes. Results: Based on the results, the median pho temperature was 62.25°C with a standard deviation of 6.69°C. The range was 30.3°C with the minimum temperature of 42.7°C and the maximum temperature of 73°C. The mode was 62.5°C. The results generated a p-value of <0.0001. Conclusions: The median temperature of the thirty samples did not achieve the cooking standard temperature of 70°C. Thus, the temperature of the broth cannot be considered a critical control step after twenty minutes from the time of pick up. Improper food handling and time-temperature abuse can introduce and support the growth of pathogens on raw beef which naturally has E.coli. Therefore, this can increase the possibility of consuming pathogens from undercooked beef causing an increased risk of foodborne illnesses. Pasteurization using time and temperature combination can potentially remove the risk however, there is not enough food handling instructions provided for the consumer to properly cook the raw beef to a safe temperature. Implications for policy development designed for
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