The duty of promoting hygiene and safety in food premises is one that everyone who works with food must share. From the CEO to deliverers and from waiters to chefs, a cleaning working space when dealing with food and drink should always be of the highest priority.
There are several important working practices to keep in mind when working in kitchens, preparatory areas or any other workplace which deals with food. These are categorised by the FSA as belonging to the 4 Cs, and in this helpful blog, we’ll take a look at each one in their turn.
The first C when it comes to food hygiene is often the most important. It stands for cleaning, and that includes every part of the food workspace. Cleaning should always involve the use of disinfectant agents which meet the BS EN standards. This can be found on cleaning products’ labels.
When it comes to the act of cleaning, there are some practices which should always be observed. Always clean preparation areas and equipment between performing different tasks. This is especially important when switching from raw foods which can carry dangerous contaminants. If food is spilt, clean it up straightaway, do not leave it until you have finished your current job. Cleaning schedules should be placed on notices around the workspace, ensuring that every part of the workplace is cleaned regularly by a range of staff.
All meat should be cooked thoroughly by anyone who handles it. This eradicates the harmful bacteria in the meat, eliminating or significantly reducing the threat of contamination. The best way of checking whether meat has been cooked is to ensure the meat is steaming hot all the way through, any of the meat juices are clearly coloured and the meat inside is not pink or rare. The cooking surface should clear of any raw meat.
When cooking any kind of food, the best practice is to make sure the food is cooked for the appropriate amount of time. This can vary between different food types, and research should be undertaken before starting a recipe as to how long each ingredient should be cooked for. Finally, when serving previously cooked food, it is vital to reheat it to eradicate any bacteria that may have grown on the food.
Many kinds of foods need to be chilled or stored in a chilled storage space. This can prevent contaminative bacteria from developing on the food - bacteria which can lead to food poisoning. This is particularly important for previously cooked food and food with a use-by date.
Most food comes in packaging has information on how food should be stored. This information is also easily accessible on the internet. Food that needs to be chilled should be put in the fridge as soon as possible - if the food has been cooked, it should be cooled as quickly as possible before being refrigerated. Any food that has been left out of the fridge for more than four hours when it should have been refrigerated should be thrown away. Refrigeration units should also be regularly checked to ensure that they are cold enough.
Cross-contamination is one of the main ways in which food-poising can happen. It commonly happens when raw food comes into contact with work surfaces or preparation equipment. When these contaminated work surfaces and preparation equipment are used around cooked or prepared food, bacteria can spread to these materials. This also includes storage spaces, where possible contaminants should be securely stored away from prepared and cooked food.
Many of the best practice points above are based around eliminating possible cross-contamination. Keeping work surfaces and equipment clean naturally removes bacteria, washing hands reduces cross-contamination and good storage practices all are effective ways of reducing cross-contamination and the potential of food poisoning.
In order to gain a better understanding of food safety, click through the following link for our excellent Food Safety and Hygiene courses.
We also have some great resources online to help you adhere to the food safety regulations. Check out our food premises self-inspection check list, and an infographic detailing how to store food safely.