10 ways to ensure food safety in your business
Why is Food Safety so important?
For businesses operating in the food industry, it’s essential to ensure produce is made in a safe and hygienic environment. There are a lot of factors to consider in order to create a culture which embraces food safety and hygiene, but failure to adhere to the necessary food safety regulations could lead to outbreaks of bacteria which cause foodborne illnesses, such as salmonella, E.coli and campylobacter.
What is Food Safety?
Be fore exploring how to improve food safety in a business we should first explain what we mean by food safety as it can often be confused with other phrases.
At a top level, the difference is relatively simple to understand. Food Safety covers all aspects of ensuring that food is safe for a person to eat. Food safety is regulated by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and is underpinned by UK regulations.
Food Hygiene usually more specifically concerns foodborne illnesses, which arise because of primarily bacterial contaminants, but also chemicals and physical hazards. As far as UK authorities are concerned, food hygiene is primarily about making sure that food doesn’t cause harm through things like allergies and bacteria.
If you want more information on the difference between Food Safety and Food Hygiene read our article here
The key to a successful business, then, is to ensure you carry out proper food hygiene and safety - here are 10 ways you can do that:
1. Plan the design and location of your facilities
When planning the location of your business, find out which areas are known to be pest hotspots and are susceptible to pollution, as these areas are more likely to cause contamination. Ensure the location is designed to eliminate contamination, with hand washing stations which are in good working order.
2. Understand your machinery and production lines
To make sure your food handling and processing is always carried out to a high standard, select machinery which complies with food safety regulations. Design the setup of your machinery and production lines within the location so that it facilitates cleaning, maintenance and monitoring.
3. Take a proactive approach to maintenance
Regular maintenance is essential for food processing machinery; look for signs of wear and tear or damage from pests which could cause production issues or contaminate the produce. Premises should also be inspected and any issues addressed before they become worse.
4. Put measures in place to control pests
Pests, such as insects, rodents, birds and animals, can quickly take up root in your premises and spread diseases, contaminating produce with foodborne illnesses or causing costly damage. Premises should be sealed, cleaned, inspected and free of clutter to prevent them from making your business their home.
5. Provide appropriate waste management
Creating procedures to store and dispose of waste, in accordance with legal requirements, is a key factor of food safety. Providing suitable storage areas and containers for waste and regularly disposing of it can help to prevent an accumulation which could attract pests, increasing the risk of contamination.
6. Clean regularly
Regularly cleaning and disinfecting food preparation areas, machinery and equipment used during food processing is essential to reduce the risk of contamination. Appropriate disinfectant products should be used to ensure adequate decontamination, but always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
7. Be aware of environmental hygiene
Although you should clean food preparation areas, machinery and equipment regularly, it also creates the possibility for potentially dangerous chemicals to contaminate the produce during food production. Because of this, you need to have measures in place to help prevent accidental environmental contamination.
8. Ensure personal hygiene is met
As bacteria easily spreads through biological and physical contamination, adequate cleaning facilities should be provided for staff to maintain a high standard of personal hygiene. Staff should wear clean clothing, wash their hands frequently, cover or tie back their hair and remove jewellery (except wedding bands).
9. Maintain food safety during handling, storage and transport
Good hygiene practices must also be carried out during the handling, storage and transport stages to ensure produce isn’t contaminated. During these stages you must also remember to regulate the temperature, keeping cold food cold (below 5℃) and hot food hot (above 60℃), to prevent the deterioration of the produce.
10. Educate staff sufficiently
All staff should be trained and supervised in the correct procedures for personal hygiene, cleaning, food preparation, food storage, waste disposal and pest control. This will help them to understand the importance of food safety, whilst showing how they can actively work to reduce the risk of contamination and foodborne illnesses in your business.
How can Virtual College help?
If you’re working in the hospitality or service industry, you will need to comply with the latest Food and Hygiene regulations. Our Level 2 Food course is designed to help you comply with EU Regulation 852/2004, which requires food businesses to ensure that any employee who handles food is fully trained in food hygiene. This course can also be used to show that your organisation is dedicated to educating its staff, and it is a fantastic way of delivering first class food safety training without the need for off-site learning or disruptive classroom sessions.