Let’s Talk About Food Hygiene How Does Food Hygiene Affect Businesses In The Food Industry?
As a food business you’ll already be aware of how vital good food hygiene standards are for your business and your customers. But, what do we mean when we talk about food hygiene? Are we just talking about clean food and a clean environment or is there more to it than that? Our friends from STS, the food safety experts, sat down with us to go into more details about the role a positive food hygiene culture plays within the modern food business.
Managing Food Hygiene Standards In Your Business
Food hygiene management (or food safety management, as it’s more commonly referred to) is about taking steps and putting controls in place to ensure the food your business produces is safe to eat. It is about reducing the incidence of foodborne illness and injury via food. When considering your food hygiene management procedures, you’ll also need to consider the hygiene management procedures required of:
your suppliers the traceability of food you buy and sell how you transport food
You’ll also need to ensure your business has the correct food hygiene processes and procedures in place.
What Are The Most Common Procedures?
Where do we start? There are a lot of food hygiene (or safety) procedures that will have an effect on most businesses within the food industry. Each and every one of them should play a key role within the overall procedures of your business. In fact, it’s vital that your business has robust food hygiene procedures in place to ensure that you’re compliant with the latest food safety regulations. But, what are these procedures and why are they so important?
By maintaining strict temperature control procedures, you’re ensuring that the food made by your business is safe to eat. As a business within the food industry, you must ensure that food is always cooked, cooled, chilled and reheated properly. This minimises the risk of harmful bacteria to your customers.
Keeping your prep areas clean is vital to prevent food poisoning. In fact, it’s vital that you keep everything that comes into contact with food clean to prevent possible contamination. It also reduces the risk of pests such as mice, rats or cockroaches from infesting your premises. And no customers are going to come into a dirty restaurant!
Cross Contamination Controls
According to the
FSA, “Cross-contamination is what happens when bacteria (or similar organisms) are unintentionally transferred from one object to another. The most common example is the transfer of bacteria between raw and cooked food.” However, you can control the risk of this by: Preparing food in a hygienic manner – This means using different equipment for raw and cooked food, keeping equipment clean, washing your hands regularly and by not washing raw meat Storing food properly – Cover raw food and keep it separate from ready to eat food, keep meat/seafood on the bottom shelf of your fridge, use different equipment for raw/cooked food, operate a ‘first in, first out’ policy on chilled goods and use date labels Controlling/Managing Allergens
Allergen legislation has undergone some drastic changes in the last few years, as you’ll already know. Check out our articles on
allergen legislation, allergen management and Natasha’s Law for more information. It’s up to you and your staff to ensure all allergens are correctly communicated to your customers and that any dietary requirements are handled correctly. If you’re not doing it correctly, it could end in the death of one of your customers! HACCP
You can find out more about
HACCP here. In the most basic terms, HACCP is like a big risk assessment for food production and handling. It makes you go through a logical process of examining and assessing risks along the food’s journey through your business then putting controls in place to mitigate these risks. HACCP also helps determine how you are going to monitor the critical control points (CCPs) and procedures for validating the system to ensure its effectiveness. Training
As with any business, in any industry, it’s important that your staff are fully trained to do their jobs safely and correctly. This is especially important in the food industry. Your staff must constantly be up to date with the ever changing food safety laws. If they’re not, it will affect your business and, possibly, your customers!
Find out more about the dangers of
poor personal hygiene here. Basically, bad personal hygiene standards generally equals bad food hygiene standards. What’s worse, you’re probably not even aware of the issues. Anything Else?
There are many more food hygiene procedures that you’re already using right now. The above is just a sample of the most common procedures in use by food businesses. For more information, speak with one of our consultants today on
08450 50 40 60! Common Issues
According to the auditors and consultants at STS, there are many common food hygiene issues that affect food businesses. In fact, there are that many we aren’t really sure we have the time to list them all! So we asked the team for their take on the ‘most common’ issues that they see on a day to day basis when dealing with food businesses. Check out what they’ve listed as the most common food hygiene issues they encounter and ensure you keep your business up to standards!
Probably the most common issue they encounter is cleanliness. Specifically, with business owners not knowing what level of cleanliness is acceptable for a food business! We shouldn’t have to explain this to people but if you fail to maintain a high standard of cleanliness you’re running the risk of causing a range of issues for your staff and customers. A dirty kitchen means a higher risk of cross contamination, a higher chance of pest infestations and it increases the chances of allergen contamination. In fact, the most common reason that food business are shut down is due to pest infestations. That’s why it’s vital you keep your entire premises clean and hygienic. After all, customers will be put off by visible dirt or, even worse, the presence of rodents or bugs in a food business.
We also regularly encounter issues with staff training. Surprisingly,it isn’t always that businesses are employing untrained staff, but usually staff not putting their training into practice. There’s no point in having your
level 3 food safety certification if you’re going to ignore everything you learnt on the course! Remember, as the business owner you must ensure your staff are fully trained and that they put that training into action! Food Labelling
Make sure you understand what a ‘Use By’ date means on food labels and make sure you’re correctly labelling opened raw food materials!
Lastly, we encounter issues with temperature control all the time. Specifically foods that are on display and need to be kept at a specific temperature. There also appears to be a lack of basic understanding when it comes to ‘complex’ or ‘unusual’ methods of cooking (such as cooking sous vide). If your business uses these kinds of techniques, make sure your staff know the right cooking temperatures!
Now we’ve discussed some of the most common food hygiene procedures, let’s discuss some common food hygiene myths!
5/10 second rules – No matter what you think, no matter what you’ve been told, it’s nonsense! There’s a lot of bacteria and dirt on the average floor….. You should wash chicken before cooking – In the States, it’s standard practice to clean chicken with chlorine. So it would make sense that you should wash chicken before cooking it to get rid of bacteria like Salmonella, right? Wrong! All you’re doing is increasing the risk of cross contamination. Just make sure it’s fully cooked and you’ll be fine! You can eat rare burgers – No matter what Boris might think, restaurants can serve you a rare steak but not a rare burger! Food auditors are enforcement officers – Our auditors are here to work with you, not against you. They’re certainly not going to grass on you! If anything, they’re here to help you fix any issues before they’re found by an EHO. Click here for more information on our food safety audits and inspections! Steps To Improve Your Food Hygiene Management
Without having visited your business, it can be difficult to tell any steps to improve your food hygiene management procedures. However, in our experience there are two steps that can improve any business. This isn’t based on personal opinion, but actual experience!
Staff Training Is Key
Again, we’re back to staff training! However, the law says that all food handlers are trained to a level ‘commensurate with their duties’. Basically, your staff need to trained to a good enough standard to do their job correctly. Your head chef, for example, needs to be higher trained than your waiters. That sounds obvious, and it should be, but in our experience it isn’t always the case. Luckily for you, we can advise what level this training should be to and can offer
online e-learning courses and classroom courses in a wide variety of food safety related subjects and to all levels. In-house training and refresher training is just as important as ‘formal’ training though, particularly when it comes to making sure staff are familiar with company procedures and that they put their ‘formal’ training into practice. A Robust Food Safety Management System
We can’t stress this one enough. Ensure you have a
robust food safety management system (FSMS) in place and that it’s used properly! This is something you need to have legally, but too many business still don’t have one in place. By not getting one, it could affect your food hygiene rating and result in a score as low as 1. Even if everything else is up to scratch. We can help by drafting tailored or bespoke FSMS for our clients which are specific to their business. We can also provide training in the FSMS to ensure key managers and chefs are familiar with the FSMS and how to use it. The coaching style of our audits means that when we visit to complete an audit, we work with the teams on site to help them understand the procedures within their FSMS and how it can be put into practice.
Still not sure if you’ve got everything covered properly? Give our experts a call today on
08450 50 40 60 for some free food hygiene and safety advice. We’re looking forward to helping your business.