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traditional-chinese-898567_1920Add to Technorati FavoritesMost people around the world have heard about the medicinal benefits of Chinese herbal remedies. These time tested traditional potions have maintained the one of the worlds largest and indeed greatest cultures for thousands of years. Today, few would dispute the benefits of herbal medicines in the hands of experienced and reputable practitioners.

In the advent of the computer age Chinese traditional medicine has gained a great deal of exposure through the Internet. Now there are a great many companies which sell herbal medicines over the Internet. Herbs, like all other organic substances are susceptible to all sorts of microbial infestations which can greatly compromise the quality of the plant and hence the product which you buy. Herbs infested with moulds, viruses or any of the many types of bacteria can loose most if not all of their beneficial medicinal properties and can even become dangerous to consume.

Herbs which are used in traditional Chinese medicine, like any other other cash crop are grown in fields or collected from the wild, they are then harvested, graded,cut to size,dehydrated, checked by quality control (hopefully), packed, stored in warehouses and finally shipped to the store where you buy them or sent directly to you if you buy via direct marketing routes. As you can see, plants used in traditional medicine go through many handling processes before they become the final product which you but. Every time the plant is handled, something of it’s original integrity and quality is lost. This is inevitable in any industry and each stage presents opportunities for cross contamination if the product is handled improperly. As with any product good manufacturing procedures (GMP) are an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, not all people who market traditional Chinese herbs are reputable manufacturers and great care must be taken in choosing which company to buy from.

Usually, the more high tech the facilities of a factory are, the higher product standards will be. Today, a number of Chinese companies are offering medicinal herbs in freeze dried form The advantages of freeze drying are that the raw materials used have to be of a high standard to ensure a stable end product. Secondly, freeze drying is a great way of preserving as many of the original qualities of the plant as possible. Thirdly, because freeze drying is a very quick process, there is no tome for bacterial or mould spores to form and oxidization is prevented. This means that from a food hygiene standpoint you are safeguarded against such micro organisms forming during usage. Fourthly, Freeze dried products deteriorate at a much slower rate than with other methods that are in use, among other things this means that the anti oxidizing properties of the plant(s) are preserved.

Freeze drying also permits the manufacturer to be very inventive during the manufacturing process. He can make blends that are intended to ensure that you the customer get a guaranteed strength of active ingredient and he can also blend different types of herbs to formulate products to make ready to use infusions for specific medical conditions. In addition, ingredients which make a product more palatable can also be added.

Some of these companies claim to have hundreds of blends in their product range which cover a great many medical requirements. If you intend to use traditional Chinese medicine I would strongly recommend that you investigate the possibilities offered by freeze dried technology.

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Governments Must Enforce Food Hygiene Law and Stop Passing The Baby

Governments have a key role to play in the area of food hygiene. Only a few decades ago our eating habits were much different. Each nation had its traditions and idiosyncratic food culture. With the mass development of the tourist industry populations have discovered new food cultures and now demand’s products from around the world to add diversity and interest to their diets.

This presents challenges for the authorities of any country. The level of control which the authorities have in territories outside of their own is at least very limited. The quality control of food products and the procedures of growth and preparation of materials used in these products are put into the hands of industry on the understanding that companies function along national, regional and international guidelines.

Generally speaking, the quantity of newly imported food products coming through borders of countries far exceeds the capabilities of the relevant authorities of any specific country to regulate. Most authorities have massive back logs of product samples that are waiting to be checked. Just stocking these products is a logistical nightmare.

Although imported products bring an influx of new microbial species with them, so do tourists. Tourists that come back from foreign holidays do so with microbial samples of their experiences and the places they visited. Many of these tourists may work in the food industry which means that there is potential for new microbes to spread throughout populations. The influx of immigrants into western countries is also a major contributory factor in the introduction and spread of microbial Species.

The task of food hygiene law enforcement is carried out by governments at central, regional and local authority levels. As we go up the food chain toward the end consumer we find that central and local governments hare having to deal with subjective issues such as facial culture which complicate the enforcement of food hygiene laws in many instances. Immigrant populations claim the right to practice their own traditions and practices which is many instances is not conducive to the statutes of law in areas of food hygiene. Authorities are finding it increasingly difficult to relate to issues as objectively as they would like.

The role of government in the area of food hygiene is first and foremost to protect consumers from illness and injury that may be cause by food in an adequate manner. The policies of the government should consider the vulnerabilities of the population as a whole and/or the vulnerabilities of specific groups within the population.

It is the job of the government to divide this task to different authorities who’s job it is to oversee different aspects of food hygiene and safety control. It is also the job of government to see that information flows freely and effectively throughout this chain where and when applicable.

Governments should also provide assurance that food sold within its jurisdiction is suitable for human consumption. The government has to take ultimate responsibility for the safety of it’s citizens.

The government also has to maintain confidence in the public eye that internationally traded food is safe to eat and provide food hygiene educational programs that effectively communicate the principles of correct food hygiene principles both to agriculture, industry, trading and consumers alike.

Trade agreements with foreign countries should be made in such a way that the national interests of the population is safeguarded. When these conditions are breached action must be taken to safeguard the public interest.

The area of food hygiene is one which is constantly changing. The microbial world is very dynamic and changes from day to day. The actions of people within the food industry also changes and in many cases looks for ways to cut or minimize safety procedures and standards. It is the job of government to ensure that the financial gain of unscrupulous people and both in the national and international arenas do not harm the well being of the consumer and to everything within their power to convince foreign governments to control exported product quality.

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Are you really sure that your favorite snacks are actually manufactured by the companies who’s names are on the wrapping?

Did you think that fake merchandise from the Far East only referred to wrist watches, CD’s, DVD’s and designer Labels?  If you have never thought about this question in depth, it may be time to do so. It has recently been discovered that many of the world’s favorite snacks are being fraudulently copied by various companies in the Far East.

World famous snacks are being produced to look and taste exactly the same as the original product.
Even “last sell my dates”, “dates of production”, company details and list of ingredients that must be printed by law on the wrapping of every product are carefully planned to coincide with the production details of the original companies’. Everything is planned right down to the last detail so as to elude the suspicions of government inspectors, retailers and consumers alike.

All of the companies that manufacture these fraudulent products are 100% sure that you the consumer will not be able to taste the difference between their fakes and the original product because they are identical in every way to the original.

Import companies all around the globe are tempted and lured by the prospect of lower prices and higher profit margins. Both the shops that sell the products and you the consumer are completely unaware of the conspiracy.  After all, you are getting a completely identical product in every way, right?

Wrong! In fact you are actually getting more than you paid for. The added ingredients come in the form of potentially dangerous  bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, listeria. These and other forms of microorganisms have been found in snacks that have been copied in the Far East. Tests to discover such activities have been carried  out by several government health authorities and by the quality control departments of the companies whose products have been copied and whose reputations have been damaged.

We also need to realize that international standards organizations such as ISO, GMP or HACCP will have nothing to do with companies that are faking the products of other reputable and responsible companies. This means that there is no control or information about how these products are produced. Hygiene standards are likely to be low and cleaning regimes may be waved.

Original manufacturers such as Nestle, Cadbury’s, Hershey’s and many other companies go to great length’s to ensure that you are buy a safe and hygienic product. They test all the ingredients that go into a product and they also test the all the parameters of the production of the final product. A large part of the cost of the product goes to cover the cost of quality control. With fake products, hygiene and quality may be the last thing on the mind of the manufacturer.

Reputable food companies now find that they now have to contend with this snack piracy on a continual basis. They are also finding that they, who had no part in the production of these imitation products, now have to continually check for fakes on shop shelves around the world and take responsibility for the correction of such infringes upon the reputation of their own company name.

In several countries, authorities were alerted to counterfeit snacks on the shelves of shops when complaints of food contamination were gathered from hospitals. After indentifying snacks as the cause importers were forced to recall all of the offending products and are now having to answer to legal allegations by national health and safety authorities. Several such companies now face loosing their import licenses, receiving hefty fines and being given periods of jail time.

Practices such as these are common in our day and age. Activities like these are responsible in part for the increase in the instances of food poisoning around the world.
Could this be the wake up call you have been waiting for regarding the quantity of snacks you eat?

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Below you will find a list of things to check when you go into a restaurant.  Restaurants vary in standard and we all have a tendency to make allowances and overlook ceratain bad points in the places we like to eat because there is something about particular establishments that keeps us coming back for more.

Many of these reasons are emotional and they tend to cloud the true picture of where and what we are eating. We may have family working at a certain restaurant or we may remember a romantic date we had there or it may have been highly recommended by a close friend. Whatever the reason we should try to keep a certain level of objectivity about where we eat. Go through the list below and see if you really look at the place you eat with a truly objective perspective.

Try to memorize as many of the points as you can and look for these points when you next go to your favorite eating house. See how high it scores. If the score is low you might want to consider finding somewhere new to eat out because you might well be risking your health.

 
Parking/Entrance
1. Was the parking lot clean?
Please select one: YES / NO
Please select one of the ratings below:
1       Unsatisfactory
2       Satisfactory
3       Excellent 
 
2. Has the parking lot been maintained?
Please select one: YES / NO
Please select one of the ratings below:
4       Unsatisfactory
5       Satisfactory
6       Excellent 
 
3. Was parking easily available?
Please select one: YES / NO
Please select one of the ratings below:
7       Unsatisfactory
8       Satisfactory
9       Excellent 
 
4. How far did you have to walk from your car to the entrance?
Please select one of the ratings below:
1       Too Far
2       An acceptable distance
3       Not far
 
5. Is the parking lot and enterance lighted properly?
Please select one. YES / NO
Please select one of the ratings below:
1       No Lighting
2       Satisfactory
3       Well Lit

6) Were there any unpleasant smells outside or around the establishment?
Please pick an answer:
yes/no
1) slightly unpleasant
2) moderately unpleasant
3) very disagreeable
 
Inside Appearance and impressions.
 
1. What was your first general impression as you looked around the inside of the establishment?
Please select one of the ratings below:
10 Unsatisfactory
11 Satisfactory
12 Excellent
 
2. Were the tables cleaned and bussed properly?
Please select one of the ratings below:
13 Unsatisfactory
14 Satisfactory
15 Excellent
 
3. Were the floors clean?
Please select one of the ratings below:
16 Unsatisfactory
17 Satisfactory
18 Excellent
 
4. Were the windows clean?
Please select one: YES / NO
Please select one of the ratings below:
19 Unsatisfactory
20 Satisfactory
21 Excellent
 
5. Were the counters clean?
Please select one. YES / NO
1-10, 10 being the best
q1     1
2       2
3       3
4       4
5       5
6       6
7       7
8       8
9       9
10 10
 
6. Were the napkins and straws stocked and orderly?
Please select one of the ratings below:
22 Unsatisfactory
23 Satisfactory
24 Excellent
 
7. Were the condiments stocked and in order?
Please select one. YES / NO
Please select one of the ratings below:
25 Unsatisfactory
26 Satisfactory
27 Excellent

8) Were there any unpleasant smells in the establishment?
Please pick an answer:
yes/no
1) hardly noticable
2) unpleasant
3) disagreeable
 
Customer Service
 
1. Were you greeted when you entered the establishment?
Please select one. YES / NO
 
2. Were the employees helpful and courteous?
Please select one. YES / NO
Please write any additional comments:
 
3. Were the employees friendly?
Please select one. YES / NO
Please select one of the ratings below:
1       Not Very Satisfactory
2       Very Satisfactory
 
4. Were the employees clean and dressed appropriately?
Please select one. YES / NO
1) Immaculate
2) acceptable
3) questionable
4) poor
 
 
5. Did the employees have nametags?
Please circle one. YES / NO 
 
 
Quality of Food
 
1. How was the quality of the food?
Please select one of the ratings below:
28 Unsatisfactory
29 Satisfactory
30 Excellent 
 
2. Was the hot food hot?
Please select one. YES / NO
Please select one of the ratings below:
tHot
1       Warm
2       Room temperature
3       Cold 
 
 
3. Was the cold food cold?
Please select one. YES / NO
Please select one of the ratings below:
4       Warm
5       Room temperature
6       Cold 
 
 
4. How was the presentation of the food?
Please select one of the ratings below:
31 Unsatisfactory
32 Satisfactory
33 Excellent

5. Were there any unpleasant smells coming from the food?
Please answer: yes/no 
 
Restrooms
 
1. Were the restrooms clean?
Please select one. YES / NO
Please select one of the ratings below:
34 Unsatisfactory
35 Satisfactory
36 Excellent

2. Were the paper products stocked in the restroom?
Please select one. YES / NO
Please select one of the ratings below:
37 Unsatisfactory
38 Satisfactory
39 Excellent
 
3. Was the soap/lotion dispenser stocked in the restroom?
Please select one YES / NO
Please select one of the ratings below:
40 Unsatisfactory
41 Satisfactory
42 Excellent
 
4. Did the restrooms smell clean?
Please select one. YES / NO
Please select one of the ratings below:
43 Unsatisfactory
44 Satisfactory
45 Excellent

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