The kitchen can be a real treasure trove for bacteria and parasites. This is the reason why, kitchen hygiene throughout the food preparation and cooking process is so crucial, not only to the paying customers dining at your establishment, but also for the safety and welfare of those working in the kitchen. Bacteria spreads so effortlessly and can stick to both food and surfaces causing contamination that could potentially be fatal. Moreover, a crucial part of complying with food safety is managing food hygiene. The reality is, whether you run a restaurant, pub, hotel, takeaway or café, you have to maintain high standards of food safety compliance, to keep your customers safe from the risk of hazards such as food poisoning and illness. In this blog, we outline some of the crucial and necessary things you need to know in regards to handling food correctly and cleaning a kitchen in a safe manner that complies with legal health and safety regulations. Read on to find out more.
Food hygiene ratings – what are they?
The UK Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is run by the Food Standards Agency, this government-led operations works throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It’s all about assessing the hygiene levels of restaurants, takeaways, food shops, and cafes, making sure that food produced in the UK is safe to consume. Scotland has a similar system called the Food Hygiene Information Scheme. If take a look at the Food Standards Agency website, you’ll see that some businesses show you a more comprehensive breakdown of what each category was assessed as. Here we breakdown what these ratings actually mean and what is entailed in achieving that rating.
A Food Hygiene Rating of 0
This essentially means urgent improvements are necessary, as receiving a 0 means that your business scored more than 50 points (the points are based on issues the inspector finds in the premises). For example, if the business does not keep records of any safety systems or has significant food hygiene breaches that could put customers’ health at immediate risk.
A Food Hygiene Rating of 1
This also indicates that urgent improvements are necessary. A business will get a 1 rating if they score between 45 and 50 points. For example, if there are a significant amount of breaches to food hygiene and a lack of training in place for staff.
A Food Hygiene Rating of 2
A level 2 rating indicates a business has scored between 35 and 40. For example, if there are a few causes for concern in the handling practices and facilities that warrant a need for change.
A Food Hygiene Rating of 3
This means that the business was found to be mostly satisfactory. Businesses will receive a 3 if they score between 25 and 30 and their practices are overall okay for maintaining safety standards. There is still room for improvement however, though this will not pose an immediate threat to health.
A Food Hygiene Rating of 4
A rating of 4 means that the business is rated as good. Receiving a 4 means your business scored a total of 20 points. In this situation, your business will have good food hygiene practices and safety systems, with only a couple of very minor areas for you to improve on.
A Food Hygiene Rating of 5
This rating means that the business scored as very good. Businesses who score between 0 and 15 will receive a 5, which reflects the highest standard to maintain in the premises.
Basic food safety and hygiene awareness is all about knowing how to avoid the propagation of bacteria and illnesses when buying, preparing and storing food in a kitchen at work.
Observing the proper techniques and conditions for safe handling of food is essential in the ongoing battle to prevent or limit foodborne illnesses – some of which can, in rare cases, be toxic.
Food prepared using unhygienic methods, in either suboptimal conditions or with a lack of attention to detail can quickly become unsafe for consumption. And, can easily increase risks of foodborne illnesses among staff, guests or members of the general public.
According to the most recent FSA Annual Report, an estimated one million people are still affected by foodborne diseases in UK annually, costing the economy £1 billion.
For any business or workplace involved in the supply, preparation or serving of food, good hygiene is vital to upholding a good industry reputation – as well as to the health of your staff, guests or customers.
The importance of food hygiene and safety standards applies across all workplaces, regardless of whether you operate as a link in the wider food industry supply chain, or simply provide a cafeteria for staff at your company.
In all hygiene and safety regulations relating to this area, the term ‘food’ is taken to mean any item sold or served for general consumption, including hot and cold drinks.
A good Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan is similar to any other general workplace Health and Safety risk assessment, but it’s specifically designed to keep your food safe from biological, chemical and physical food safety hazards (the three main types of food hazard reported):
- Biological hazards typically involve harmful bacteria or pathogens being introduced to foods.
Chemical hazards typically involve non-organic contamination of foods with toxic or harmful substances.
- Physical hazards typically involve other objects or foreign bodies getting into food.
There are several things you can do to ensure that your kitchen has a high standard of cleanliness, here we have collated some of the main things you need to consider in terms of kitchen cleanliness.
To go alongside towels and cloths, hands are one of the primary ways that bacteria spreads in a kitchen. Washing your hands thoroughly is the simplest and perhaps most important step to prevent harmful bacteria spreading from the hands to food.
Here are some of the main examples for when staff that work with food must wash their hands:
- After they enter or leave the food preparation area
- Immediately before preparing or serving food
- Immediately after touching raw food
- Immediately after handling food waste or emptying a bin
- Immediately after cleaning
- Immediately after blowing their nose
- Immediately after touching phones, light switches, door handles, cash registers and other non-food items likely to have been touched by others
Food storage in the kitchen is highly important and one of the key preventative measures to stop cross-contamination. Some of the food storage factors its important you factor in include are:
- Always keep raw meats, unpasteurised dairy and other high-risk food types separate from the rest of your supply
- Never mix raw and cooked foods of any kind in storage; ideally, you should have a separate fridge and freezer for raw goods
- Where this isn’t practical, ensure you keep raw foods only on the lowest shelves where they can’t drip onto other products
- Always refrigerate cooked foods promptly, but avoid putting them in the fridge while still warm
- Check your fridge and freezer temperatures regularly:
- Cold foods should be refrigerated below 5°C until ready to cook or serve
- Frozen foods should be kept below -18°C until ready to cook or serve
Product storage: dairy products
You need to be particularly careful with dairy products in the kitchen.
Dairy products must be stored in the refrigerator at temperatures of 2°C to 4°C (36° to 39°F). Consider these guidelines:
- The fat in dairy products has a tendency to absorb strong odours from the storage surroundings. To reduce the likelihood of this happening, store dairy products in their own area in protective coverings.
- Do not store dairy products in a vegetable cooler; a separate refrigerator is much more acceptable.
- Keep the refrigerator clean at all times.
- Rotate dairy products when fresh product arrives. Dairy products should not be ordered too far in advance of when they will be used. Ideally, such products should be delivered on a daily basis.
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