First Portion of Materials

Here are the first 20 pages of the lesson material to allow you to start your study immediately.

Course overview

This subject is designed to improve your understanding of correct, hygienic food handling. Applying your knowledge of hygiene will ensure that you, and the food handlers with whom you work, can confidently prepare food in a hygienic manner minimising risk to the consumer. Economic loss due to deterioration of quality or contamination, and risk of breaking the law regarding food handling will also be minimised. Food Safety Systems based on the principles of Hazard Analysis and critical Control Points (HACCP) will also be studied.

As you work your way through each unit, you will encounter self-assessment activities designed to help you check your own progress. Each activity should be completed before moving on, to ensure you have understood the material. Answers are also provided within the unit. Do not send in these answers.

Course structure

The course consists of one module, 6627A Hygiene for Food Handlers (Australian National Module Code INT 8). It is competency based and is equivalent to 6 hours tuition by class attendance. However, because you are studying by distance, you may need extra time for research. You'll also need time to complete the compulsory assessment at the end of this course guide.

Course Content

The course covers the following learning outcomes:

Student progress

We strongly advise that you plan your studies carefully and work at a steady rate, so that you are able to complete this course within a month. This is because when this time limit is reached you will be prevented from continuing unless you pay additional P@TT access fees.

You should notify OTEN immediately if you wish to discontinue your studies.

For help with settling into distance learning, and how to make the best use of your time and study materials, you may wish to send away for our complimentary Study skills package. The Student information manual contains an order form for this package.

Check your progress exercises

Throughout the book, you will find activities called 'Activity' or 'Check your progress'. From these exercises you should get a clear idea of how well you understand the material. We strongly recommend you do these 'Activities' and 'Check your progress' exercises as you come to them and take the time to learn from any feedback that may be provided.


Your performance in this course is assessed by establishing a Pass/Fail mark based on the successful completion of the compulsory assignment. There is no final test and no practical session attendance for this OTEN TAFEPLUS course.

When you send the assignment back to OTEN, make sure you attach the Marks Record Slip to your work (see Attachment 1).

Role of assignment

How long should your answers be? Generally, long answers are not required and you should be concise and to the point. If you are especially interested in a particular question, then you may write a longer answer. Also, do not hesitate to use examples that you think are appropriate to your workplace.

The assignment provides you with a great opportunity to research your interests and at the same time get an opinion on your ideas from the teacher. However, in all cases make sure your answers are easy to read, are related to the topic and cover only points relevant to the question. It may be useful to copy the specific part of the question onto the page first, then write your answer. This will help you focus and your answer to remain relevant to the question.

Remember to give examples from your own experience where possible and to use your own words when answering. This will not only make the subject more useful to you, it will also allow the teacher to be more helpful and make suggestions and comments which will have greater meaning to you personally.

The specific questions and details of the assignment is included at the end of the Learners Guide however, the criteria for presentation is as follows:

If you experience any difficulties with your assignments please contact the Tourism & Hospitality teacher, Tourism and Hospitality section at the Open Training & Education Network (OTEN) for assistance. We recommend that you keep a record of each of your assignments, such as a photo copy, before sending it to OTEN.

Contents: Unit 1



Food deterioration and spoilage

Preventing microbial contamination

Food poisoning


Answers to check your progress questions


This subject is designed to improve your understanding of hygienic food handling. Applying your knowledge of hygiene helps to ensure that you and the food handlers with whom you work can confidently prepare food in a safe, healthy, high quality way for the consumer.

Food handling hygiene applies to everyone who handles or prepares food in the home, food factories, restaurants, hotels, clubs, commercial catering, bars, takeaways and food stores.

Good sanitation and hygiene

Most reasons for good hygiene are obvious but can be summarised under the headings of health, financial and legal.

Health: Poor handling can lead to spread of disease or food poisoning.

Financial: Mishandled food deteriorates quickly in quality. It may spoil and be lost or be less attractive to consumers. Unclean and pest ridden places are unattractive to eat in.

Legal: If you prepare food for sale obey the requirements set out under the various government regulations and Acts such as the Food Act 1989.

Just as you trust your mechanic, plumber or doctor to do a professional job for you, people who eat food trust the food handler to have a professional approach when preparing food.

There are certain rules of hygiene we have all followed since we were young. These common sense rules are:

(Perhaps the last rule isn't taught to kids!). These rules and others are known to us all. They protect our health and enjoyment of food everyday.

An improvement on learning rules is understanding the reasoning behind rules. We can then apply rules logically and make our own rules for a particular situation. This is the reason for learning hygiene in detail.

Can you identify the problems contributing to poor hygiene or working conditions in a dirty kitchen?

Study the picture below and see what you come up with.

Figure 1: Poor hygiene in a dirty kitchen

Dangerous or unusable food

Some foods are naturally dangerous--such as toadstools, puffer fish and lantana berries. Others are unpleasant--unripe lemons (sour) or ornamental chilli (extremely hot!)

All foods can become contaminated. Good food can become dangerous or unpleasant as a result of contamination. It's your job as a food handler to ensure contamination is minimised, thus reducing the likelihood of the food causing illness when consumed.

Visible and invisible contamination

Contamination can be visible as in the case of dirt, insects, hair, odours, damage. In this case contamination is usually obvious and food is unpleasant or spoiled. Food however can be contaminated by living organisms which are so small we can't see them. This is invisible contamination. These very small living things are micro-organisms--sometimes called microbes or germs. When micro-organisms grow on food they may spoil food by making it smelly or slimy. Worse still, some micro-organisms make food dangerous.

Figure 2: Is your food dangerous?

Check your progress 1
Try the following questions to test your understanding of the work covered so far.

1 Which of the following are not food handlers?

(a) processors in a chocolate factory

(b) service staff in a fruit and vegetable shop

(c) employees in a bakery

(d) silver-service waiters in a restaurant

(e) staff in a takeaway food outlet in a shopping centre

(f) the local butcher

(g) a person preparing a meal in their home.

2 Why is some food potentially dangerous?

3 Give an example of visible contamination.

4 Give an example of `invisible' contamination.

Check your answers with those at the end of this unit.


Figure 3: Micro-organisms are everywhere

Micro-organism means very small living thing. They're found everywhere in our environment. Some knowledge of micro-organisms is necessary for a clear understanding of the reasons for hygiene rules and practices.

Just as large organisms can be grouped (mammals, reptiles, birds), so can micro-organisms. Listed below are the main types of micro-organisms which cause problems with food.

Types of micro-organisms


These are the small and simple micro-organisms. They're also the most important group. Most bacteria are harmless but some cause food spoilage. Some cause food poisoning such as the bacteria you may have heard of called Salmonella. Some diseases are caused by bacterial infections such as cholera and tuberculosis.


Viruses are the smallest, simplest micro-organisms. Scientists argue about whether or not to call them micro-organisms because they don't have the same characteristics as other living organisms and can only grow by infecting living things.

Different viruses affect plants, animals and people. Some viral diseases, in particular hepatitis A and gastroenteritis, can be passed from an infected food handler via food to a person eating food.


Mould is large enough to be visible and has a furry or cotton wool appearance. Mouldy food is usually inedible and sometimes poisonous.

Some mould is useful for making blue vein cheese or antibiotics (eg penicillium).


Yeasts are used to make bread and alcoholic drinks. Yeasts spoil a few foods, especially juices.


These are single-celled animals which are larger than bacteria. They are quite common in nature but few are involved in food handling. One type - giardia - causes a type of gastroenteritis.

Size of micro-organisms

Most micro-organisms are hundreds of times smaller than the smallest speck of dust you can see. In order to see micro-organisms, you have to magnify them many times by using a microscope as shown below.

We measure the size of micro-organisms in units that are one thousandth of a millimetre! These units are called micrometres or microns for short.

To give you some idea of the size scale of micro-organisms, consider the following comparisons:

1 millimetre (1000 microns)--the head of a pin

0.1 millimetre (100 microns)--a speck of sand or pollen

0.001 millimetre (1 micron)--a typical bacterium (a micro-organism we will study in much more detail later).

In summary then:

1 m (metre) = 1000 mm (millimetre)

1 mm = 1000 um (micrometres or microns)


1 mm = 0.001 m

1 um = 0.001 mm

Figure 4: A microscope


Very small living things (micro-organisms) are common even though we can't see them. It's important to consider them in hygienic food handling practice.

Figure 5: Size of micro-organisms

This is the end of the first portion of your learning material. Please contact us if you have not received the printed version of your material within a couple of weeks of enrolment.

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