If you work in the food industry then a high standard of hygiene is an essential requirement. By following a few basic hygiene principles, you can avoid common problems such as food poisoning and cross contamination entirely.
Harmful bacteria such as E. coli 0157, Salmonella and Listeria are easily spread in any kitchen or food preparation environment if the correct guidelines are ignored, so it is vital that all employees have a full understanding of good hygiene measures in order to ensure adequate protection against such contaminates. This will ensure the safety of your customers whilst protecting your business from avoidable legal action through carelessness.
Useful Hygiene Tips for Caterers
The key hygiene measures that the Food Standards Agency currently recommend are as follows:
- 1) Ensure all surfaces are clean and disinfected before food preparation takes place.
- 2) Keep raw and cooked foods separate and use different chopping boards and utensils for each.
- 3) You must wash your hands regularly and at the following times:
- a) Prior to food preparation
- b) When switching between raw and cooked foods
- c) After eating, drinking, smoking or visiting the toilet
- d) Following contact with waste products and refuse
- 4) Good personal hygiene is essential – Fingernails should be short and clean, hairnets used where appropriate and any wounds should be covered with high visibility, waterproof dressings.
- 5) Clean protective clothes should always be worn on-site.
Additionally, if a member of staff is ill or suffering from a condition that is hazardous to the health of others, then they should always advise their employer and refrain from work until at least 48 hours after symptoms have subsided.
Food Storage and Preparation Guidelines
As well as personal hygiene, it is important that you handle food correctly at every stage of food preparation. Here, we recommended the following guidelines:
- 1) Ensure food is fully defrosted before cooking and then cooked through properly.
- 2) When food is reheated it must be cooked above 82 degrees Celsius for a minimum of 2 minutes.
- 3) If food is to be stored in the fridge after cooking, make sure it is cooled first.
- 4) Hot food should be kept above 63 degrees Celsius to avoid bacteria growth – or at 3 degrees Celsius or below in the case of cold foods (although 8 degrees Celsius is acceptable for short periods of time).
- 5) Keep food covered where possible
- 6) Cooked foods should always be stored above raw foods inside refrigerators
- 7) Ensure freezer and refrigerator temperatures are monitored accurately using a thermometer and keep notes of these temperatures in a diary.
Many of the above recommendations are based on common sense although some of the guidelines may not be immediately obvious to all members of staff. By ensuring good hygiene measures, most forms of food poisoning can be avoided completely which means that your customers and staff will always be safe from easily preventable illnesses whilst saving your business from unnecessary legal action.
For a complete list of do’s and don’ts – visit the Food Standards Agency website at the following address: http://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/caterers/food-hygiene/. There is also a freely downloadable PDF document available here: http://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/multimedia/pdfs/publication/hygieneguidebooklet.pdf.