It is important for anyone cooking or touching food to take precautions. However, for those who work with food, complying with food health and safety rules is imperative. Failure to adhere to the stringent food health and safety protocols can cause major illnesses, such as diarrhoea.
There are many rules and regulations to be mindful of, if you work in a role that involves handling, storing, cooking or serving food. This article will take you through five of the most important rules that you need to be aware of, that can be easily applied in your daily routine.
Why you should prioritise food safety and hygiene
Food and safety hygiene is extremely important for businesses. Not only does it protect the health of your customers from food poisoning and other illnesses caused by contaminated food, but it also underlines the importance of maintaining a clean and safe working environment for your employees.
Your consumers and employees come first and it’s essential to be proactive in protecting them from harm. Illnesses like food poisoning are a result of food contaminated by bacteria, viruses and other germs. Although it can be treated at home, it is a dangerous illness and should be avoided at all costs.
Moreover, a safe and hygienic working environment helps create a productive workforce. As a result, creating a food health and safety document not only keeps your workplace hygienic but also encourages employees to maintain the same standard throughout their daily work.
What are the top 5 rules to implement for a healthy and more hygienic workplace?
Rule 1: Set a high standard of food hygiene
Setting a high standard for basic hygiene is important, it reminds all employees that maintaining high standards in hygiene is just as good as company culture, it becomes the fibre of the team. Simple tasks, such as constantly washing hands in the correct sink, not using tea towels to wipe hands and disposing of used paper towels correctly, go a long way.
Keeping a clean and constantly disinfected kitchen on a daily basis also reinforces the importance of maintaining hygienic practices. You can include basic food hygiene courses that focus on the importance of personal hygiene, food hazards, effective cleaning, and the basic legal requirements of meeting food safety standards.
Rule 2: Prevent cross-contamination
Cross-contamination refers to the process by which bacteria or other microorganisms are unintentionally transferred from one substance or object to another, with harmful effects. Bacterial cross-contamination usually happens when raw food touches or drips onto cooked food, utensils or surfaces. This can have harmful consequences, ultimately leading to food poisoning.
To avoid this, make sure that different utensils are used for raw and cooked foods, washing these utensils thoroughly between tasks, and ensure hands are washed after touching raw food and before handling ready-to-eat food. It is also important to ensure that you store food accordingly, covering raw foods and keeping them separate from cooked foods.
Rule 3: Cook food to a safe temperature
Inadequate cooking is another common cause of food poisoning. Foods such as meat, eggs, fish and poultry should be thoroughly cooked to kill the bacteria that often leads to most types of food poisoning. These foods usually classify as high-risk foods and should be kept out of the temperature danger zone of between 5°C and 60°C. If they have been left in this temperature danger zone for more than two hours, they must be consumed immediately or discarded.
Whilst different foods require different approaches, aim for an internal temperature of 75°C or hotter when you cook the food. The same applies to heating foods, this temperature kills most food-poisoning bacteria. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of foods during the cooking process.
Rule 4: Store food in the right compartments
In addition to cooking food at the right temperature, it is also important to store the different types of food according to a suitable temperature. All food also needs to be stored at the correct temperature to ensure it is safe for consumption. This also applies to food that has not been prepared and cooked food that is being catered at buffets and events etc. Perishable food should be stored at or below 5 °C, or at or above 60 °C to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
Rule 5: Manage your waste well
Managing food waste is a crucial part of the industry. Proper waste management significantly contributes to ensuring that your kitchen remains clean and hygienic at all times. You can control waste by performing regular checks of your stock to be sure that there is no expired food as this can contaminate fresh foods and pose a risk to consumers.
In addition, it is also important to set up a good waste management system that ensures that all fresh food is separate from waste and in a bin that had a solid lid to prevent flies and other health risks from spreading.
Food safety courses such as HACCP Awareness will provide you with practical approaches and advice to implement proper food and waste management. There are also other practical steps you can take towards reducing your waste such as buying only the ingredients you need, in moderation, practising stock rotation frequently, inspecting all your orders and preparing grocery lists and menus with your cooks/chefs.
There are many rules for food handlers to be aware of, so taking a food hygiene course can help you ensure the safety of both your customers and employees when it comes to food safety. Enrolling your staff in courses such as Food Safety Level 2 Awareness not only gives them the necessary tools they need to maintain and implement these rules but also gives a holistic view of the importance of these rules and their role in ensuring your business can increase and maintain its food hygiene ratings. Our Food Safety courses will help all food handlers ensure their business, customers and staff are safer from food-related illnesses.