Effective Food Hygiene for Business

handsThe intention of the Food Safety Act 1990 is to ensure that all food produced for sale is safe to eat and that it will not cause harm to a person's health. Local authority enforcement officers can enter your food premises at any time to carry out an inspection and risk assessment to make sure you are not in breach of legislation. They will look at how your business operates and will identify potential hazards to food safety. A business that prepares food for sale must make sure they conduct hazard analysis to identify any physical, chemical or microbiological hazards that could possibly make the food unfit to eat. They are then obliged to put controls in place to remove that potential hazard. The Food Standards Agency has published ‘Food Hygiene-a guide for businesses' which offers excellent advice and can be ordered or downloaded.

The layout of your premises must be designed to allow room for adequate maintenance and cleaning, to provide enough surface for hygienic food preparation and suitable conditions for handling and storing of food at the correct temperatures. There must be enough ventilation either through windows or extractor fans and ventilation systems must be cleaned with filters replaced on a regular basis. There must be an area for staff to change their clothes and an area for safe storage of cleaning chemicals and disinfectants away from the food area.

The food preparation area requires special attention and the layout of this area must allow space for good food hygiene processes and protection from contamination. Good food hygiene relates to the control of potentially harmful bacteria that could cause serious illness in terms of cooking, chilling, cross contamination and cleaning. Some of these may seem obvious but by putting simple steps in place risks can be avoided.

When cooking food it is important to ensure it has been thoroughly cooked and when reheating, it should be piping hot all the way through. Chilling food will stop harmful bacteria from multiplying so chilling food as soon as it's delivered, keeping chilled food out of the fridge for the shortest time possible before cooking and ensuring food is cooled as quickly as possible before placing in the fridge will ensure its safety.

Effective cleaning wipes out bacteria on your hands, surfaces and cooking equipment. Ensuring all staff wash and dry their hands meticulously before handling food is essential. Ensuring food preparation areas are cleaned after each job as well as cleaning the surfaces after food is spilt whilst you work, is the system to follow. A full daily clean should be undertaken at the end of the day and a regular deep clean by specialist teams needs to be scheduled. This will also ensure the reduced risk of bacterial build up, pest infestation, will help prolong the life of your equipment and will ensure ventilation systems are hygienic and are working to full capacity.

Staff need to be aware of cross-contamination of food where bacteria can be spread from raw food to ready to eat food, surfaces and equipment. This is deemed to be the most common cause of food poisoning and can be easily avoided by ensuring surfaces and equipment are thoroughly cleaned after use especially raw food. It is ideal to use different chopping boards and knives for raw food and ready to eat food. Raw and ready to eat food must be kept separate at all times and stored, if possible, in separate fridges. Hand washing comes into force here and not only should hands be washed before preparing food but also after touching raw food.

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