Why should we care about food safety procedures?
Having robust food safety management procedures helps businesses to produce food that is safe to eat.
Any negligence in this area can lead to people falling sick and businesses being negatively impacted in regard to their reputation. The negative impact on reputation can be disastrous for revenue and could result in crippling losses through customers not eating from the establishment and the incurring of penalties/fines.
Legal proceedings might also result from negligence and which leads to a foodborne illness. Insurance premiums will increase and staff morale will decrease leading to higher staff absence and potential staff turnover, which incurs the cost of hiring and training new staff.
It is important to note that clean and safe are not identical concepts:
something can appear clean but it does not necessarily mean that it is safe. Bacteria can still lurk on hands, surfaces, and utensils if proper safety procedures are not followed.
This can lead to contamination and cross-contamination. Without correct guidelines and procedures to manage safety, issues with contamination will be prevalent, and could even mean foreign objects (packaging, or glass for instance) finding their way into food. Cross-contamination can often occur around raw food handling and it is important to have procedures around cleaning, separating, cooking, and chilling to stop raw foods from spreading bacteria and foods that have gone off doing the same.
Foodborne illnesses, which are caused by organisms that cause illness or could also be from chemical contamination.
Foods contaminated with organisms do not always look or smell different from food that is not contaminated, so the safety procedures that are employed can add the necessary protections to avoid serving contaminated food.
If more than two people experience the same illness after eating the same food, this is called a foodborne outbreak. An outbreak is usually caused by disease-causing microorganisms.
Businesses must put in place food safety management procedures based on the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP).
HACCP is a system that helps you identify potential food hazards and introduce procedures to make sure those hazards are removed or reduced to an acceptable level.
Some of the procedures that will help you produce and sell food that is safe to eat are to:
- Keep up-to-date documents and records relating to your procedures
- Regularly review your procedures to ensure they reflect what you produce or how you work
As a food business, all staff needs to have good personal hygiene. Guidance on procedures should be followed rigorously to avoid cross-contamination.
Safe Food handling
Safe handling begins from the point that food is delivered. Before even accepting delivery of food products the storage area of the truck should be inspected to see if it is in a clean state.
Reject food that is past its expiration date or food that is approaching this date and will not be able to be used before expiration. Additionally, look for signs of spoilage and potential contamination through foreign objects accidentally being introduced to the food.
Good practice entails checking food on arrival and measuring temperatures and rejecting foods, not at the appropriate temperature. This food that is at an incorrect temperature may already be contaminated with organisms and could contaminate other food and areas.
Furthermore, the employer will end up having to pay for food that will end up having to be thrown out.
It is important to develop an eye for warning signs that food has been incorrectly handled or stored; for example, frozen food that has been thawed and refrozen will form large ice crystals to show this is the case.
Once foods are in, it is important to make sure that the delivery zone is at the right temperature for the incoming food. If not, it will fall into the temperature danger zone ( 8°C – 63°C ) which can lead to food spoiling.
Checking temperatures on perishables and hot and cold food can make sure that food does not slip into the danger zone and that you are not risking contamination. It is key to be able to use thermometers accurately and have them placed in the correct places, like at the front of refrigerators.
Storing food correctly is important for a number of reasons, but, most importantly, it stops the cross-contamination of food. Where and how food is placed may seem trivial, but it really is not. Keeping food cases at least 6 inches off the floor, storing food away from medicines and chemicals, storing raw meat under other food and never over–all of these considerations keep a business running safely and efficiently.
Can affect not only yourself but others. There are knock-on consequences stemming from unsafe behaviour and weak safety procedures.
It is a legal duty to keep food supplies clean and protect them in such a way that does not allow for contamination or growth of bacteria that can grow and cause illness.
Unsafe behaviour can directly affect customers so acting responsibly protects the health and safety of those paying customers who have trusted that the food supplier or restaurant has upheld their duty to keep their customers safe.
Unsafe behaviour could also impact your colleagues negatively in terms of their safety in the workplace but also their employment with the organisation.
All staff have a responsibility to act in such a way that does not endanger fellow staff and customers and identify and prevent situations that might lead to food-borne illness outbreaks.
By not washing hands correctly, or working while ill, or not cooking to correct temperatures, the customers, the business and other staff can suffer significant detriment. Remaining vigilant and taking set guidelines and procedures seriously, the business, and all of those connected to it, will be in a much safer position.