A Guide to Food Preparation Colour Codes
Preventing food contamination
When running a catering business, it is crucial that food is prepared as safely as possible. One of the biggest food hygiene risks is cross-contamination from handling raw foods. As well as preventing any dangerous illnesses, such as food poisoning, it is also important to protect customers with dietary requirements or food allergies.
Safe food handling practices, such as using food preparation colour codes in the kitchen, are widely recommended safety measures. Implementing food preparation colour codes is a relatively cheap practice, and this will help you to keep your staff and customers safe from harmful germs.
Colour coding can be a useful tool to help keep staff organised, remind them to take responsibility for food safety, and it can also help to improve the smooth running of a kitchen.
Another benefit of using a colour coding policy in your workplace is that it can also provide evidence to Food Standards Enforcement Officers that you are taking the necessary steps to prevent any health risks. During an inspection, they will be able to see clearly that a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system is in place in terms of avoiding contamination.
How to colour code your kitchen
There are many items of kitchen equipment which can be colour coded to keep bacteria from spreading, such as:
- Chopping boards
- Storage containers
You should look to use separate colour coded kitchen equipment for different types of food preparation. For example, you may look to use colour coded chopping boards for each of the following food products: raw meat, raw fish, cooked meat, dairy, vegetables, fruit and salad.
Here are the recommended colour codes for each food type:
- White – White is best used for bakery items such as pastries and any dairy products. It is important to note that eggs should be prepared separately to avoid the risk of salmonella bacteria spreading.
- Yellow – Yellow is the best colour to use for any cooked meats. Cooked meat and raw meat should always be kept separate and cooked meats should always be stored above raw meat.
- Green – Green equipment should be used for fruit and salad.
- Red – Red should be used for raw meat items such as uncooked steaks. It is also important to clean any surfaces thoroughly after preparing raw meat items.
- Blue – Blue is used for raw fish, it is vital that raw fish is kept away from raw meat as fish is a common allergen.
- Brown – Brown is the best colour to use for equipment when you are preparing vegetables.
If you work in a busy kitchen it can be easy to forget a colour coding system, so it can be a good idea to display a wall chart for all employees to see. This will help avoid any confusion, especially if a different system was in place previously. It is also important to mention that meticulous cleaning is essential when working in a commercial kitchen to avoid cross contamination with foods.