It’s important to maintain excellent hygiene when working in a commercial kitchen. Failure to do so can result in customers or staff members becoming seriously ill, as bacteria such as E. coli can have severe medical consequences.
Food safety in the workplace means maintaining personal hygiene and upholding regulations that are there to protect the general public as well as your business. Food hygiene is very important and is governed at a high level, with national and international laws dictating the quality standards of food that can be bought and sold. EU Regulation EC 852/2004, for example, ensures food safety throughout commercial food supply chains by making sure that common hygiene requirements are adhered to.
Kitchens should be cleaned down thoroughly at the end of each service, as well as before and after the preparation of meat, fish or poultry. Heavy duty antibacterial cleaning supplies should be used, and staff should wash their hands properly before and after handling these cleaning chemicals. This blog covers the steps that you can take to ensure that your commercial kitchen is preparing food that is to standard and fully compliant with existing food hygiene laws.
Steps Towards Food Hygiene
Make a HACCP food plan
Hazard analysis and critical control points is an international standard for reducing safety risks surrounding food. The HACCP system helps you to identify and recognise hazards and control them at specific points in the food preparation process. Whether your company is involved in the manufacturing, processing or handling of food, use HACCP to improve food hygiene.
The HACCP food plan includes identifying critical control points (CCPs) – which are steps of a procedure where controls can be applied to prevent, eliminate, or reduce risks – and enables workers to implement these controls to improve food hygiene and minimise the dangers of food hazards.
To ensure that they’re upheld effectively, CCPs should be monitored regularly for improvement. Checks should be put in place to verify the effects that CCPs have on the workplace, and records kept as evidence for health inspectors if they should pay a visit.
Commonly, kitchens choose to focus on preventing cross-contamination between cleaning equipment and kitchen equipment. By colour coding cleaning cloths, cross-contamination can be easily avoided. Blue cleaning cloths are commonly used for general low risk areas, yellow cloths are used for washroom surfaces such as sinks and wall tiles, green cloths are used to wipe down food preparation areas, and red cloths are used for toilets and toilet floors. After each cloth is used, they should be thoroughly cleaned on a hot cycle in the washing machine.
To maintain excellent personal hygiene while working in the kitchen, it’s important that workers wash their hands frequently and thoroughly. This should be done before handling food, after using the toilet, after handling raw food or raw food packaging, and after touching bins or handling waste, at the very least. To ensure that hand washing standards are met, regular training should be given about how to build hand washing habits and the best technique to make sure washing is effective. Choose an antimicrobial foam hand wash to ensure that hands are sufficiently cleaned.
Kitchen workers should also make use of proper kitchen-appropriate workwear, including aprons, disposable food preparation gloves, appropriate non-slip footwear, and hair nets. These items of clothing are designed to reduce risk in the kitchen and should be worn at all times.
Handling raw meat
Despite relatively common thought, it’s never a good idea to wash raw chicken. This can lead to contamination of surfaces and other food with raw meat and the bacteria that can come with it, which can in turn lead to serious illness or food poisoning.
Before handling raw meat, you should take steps to avoid cross-contamination by washing everything thoroughly: your hands, chopping boards, and knives. You may even want to change your apron after handling raw meat. You should be sure to use food-safe sanitiser, (available as a concentrate or spray) to sanitise kitchen surfaces or fridge space after it has come into contact with raw meat.
Meat should be stored properly in the fridge at the correct temperature. Cover it well or in a sealable tub and store it on the bottom shelf of the fridge to lower the risk of contaminated liquid dripping onto other foodstuffs below. When food is being prepared, it’s important that colour coded chopping boards and knives should be used to prevent cross-contamination – as per the HACCP guidelines. This equipment should be washed thoroughly after each use, ensuring the safety and compliancy of the kitchen.