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Safe Food: Protecting against foodborne infections in communal facilities

05/2021, 04.02.2021

In its updated leaflet, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) provides recommendations for the preparation of meals in communal facilities that regularly cater for particularly vulnerable groups of people.

Foodborne infections particularly endanger young children, pregnant women and very old or sick people. "Errors in the selection and preparation of food can have serious consequences for particularly vulnerable people and even lead to death," says Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, President of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). "With the BfR leaflet "Safe Food”, we would like to support community facilities in serving safe food to these particularly sensitive groups of people as well."

Link to the leaflet:

Foodborne illness can occur when pathogens enter commercial kitchens via raw ingredients or infected staff, are spread by hygiene failures in kitchens, and enter prepared foods. Temperature errors contribute to the survival and multiplication of pathogens in food.

Avoiding pathogens such as salmonella or listeria is particularly important when catering for sensitive individuals. Good hygiene and the right choice of ingredients and recipes reduce foodborne infections. Adequate food quality, proper storage and preparation of food, and staff training are also essential.

Fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly and peeled if possible. Low-acid fruit, vegetables and leafy salads must be eaten immediately after cutting or should be kept in the refrigerator until consumption. To protect against listeriosis, it may be advisable to reheat raw, but also already heated, ready-to-eat food before serving.

Most pathogens are killed when the food is heated to 72 degrees for at least two minutes in all parts during cooking. This requirement should be followed to prepare safe food.

While bacteria are killed when heated, bacterial spores can survive high temperatures. Such spores are able to germinate and the vegetative bacteria can multiply and form toxins. Keeping food hot until it is served at a minimum of 60 degrees on all parts of the heated food can prevent spores from germinating and bacteria from multiplying.

Establishments that regularly cater for particularly vulnerable persons have a special responsibility when selecting their staff. They should be competent, experienced and regularly trained.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the German federal government and German federal states ("Laender") on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.


Publications - Merkblätter für weitere ...

Date Title Size
Sicher verpflegt - Besonders empfindliche Personengruppen in Gemeinschaftseinrichtungen
(Das Merkblatt liegt auch in englischer Sprache vor)
497.2 KB




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