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Last updated: 26.07.17

Common food safety mistakes your staff can avoid

When it comes to running a food business, even the smallest of food safety mistakes can have big consequences, not to mention being time-consuming and costly.

For any food business, the key to success is high standards and good food safety practices. When businesses let their food standards slide, ratings can quickly go downhill and - with competition tougher than ever - customers will simply decide to eat elsewhere. However, it can be difficult for employers to keep their staff engaged in a ‘culture of cleanliness’, especially when it comes to breaking old habits and enforcing new and more time-consuming regimes.

This is why it is crucial that employers communicate with their workforce so they know the consequences of poor kitchen sanitation. The two biggest risks when it comes to food safety in the kitchen include food becoming contaminated and unsafe, and a company failing health inspections, which will mean them having to make big changes fast.

Poor kitchen hygiene can also attract pests like rats, flies and cockroaches, as well as foodborne outbreaks. Did you know that flies transmit more than 100 known pathogens, that cockroaches carry organisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi, or that rats and mice transmit salmonella when they come into contact with kitchen utensils or surfaces? Even the simplest of actions, such as leaving food uncovered, can cause harmful illnesses.

But what are the most common food safety mistakes that employees are making? Here we take a look at mistakes your staff need to avoid.

Eating food in the kitchen

Aside from eating food on the job being unprofessional, it is also very unhygienic and is actually a health code violation, especially in areas where food is being prepared. This is because there is a risk of crumbs and food, that employees are eating, getting into meals served to customers.

In addition to this, food that has saliva or other human bacteria on it could distribute illness. The best way to avoid this is to make employees aware of best practice in the kitchen and encourage them to ask questions or have a discussion with you if they are unsure of the rules. If there is anything that is not made clear, employees may cut corners or make assumptions about hygiene. You can prevent this from happening by providing staff with the relevant training.

Storing food at the wrong temperature

Those handling food will know that it is vital that meats, pastries, dairy and poultry must be kept refrigerated to prevent bacteria developing and growing. However, there is not just one temperature that these types of food must be kept at, as different foods need various storage temperatures.

Generally, in the food industry, it is widespread knowledge that food must not be kept unrefrigerated for more than two hours. In hotter conditions, this time is shortened to no longer than an hour. This is because food left at room temperature for a prolonged period of time is more susceptible to pest contamination and a major cause of foodborne illnesses.

Failing to wash hands

It may seem minor but washing hands before coming into contact with foods or surfaces in the kitchen is a great way to keep germs at bay. Yet despite this, workers only practice washing their hands a small portion of the time. Employers must try and get workers in a routine of washing their hands when they touch meat, leave the food preparation area, and prepare fresh foods.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the US, food handlers should scrub their hands for at least 20 seconds, using soap and rubbing hands together. They should then dry their hands with a clean towel.

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