Ensuring good hygiene practices is an essential part of food safety and preventing food poisoning. If you are starting a food business or already own one, you must comply with food law, and you will be subjected to checks from authorised officers of your local council.
Here we take a look at Food Standards Agency (FSA) guidelines and food safety tips for preparation and handling.
What are the FSA guidelines?
The Food Standards Agency recommends that you tackle food health & safety from the perspective of the 4Cs of good food hygiene; cleaning, cooking, chilling, and cross-contamination.
To maintain food safety, you should protect stored food against harmful chemicals and bacteria in your fridge, freezer, and shelves. When food is transported, it must be protected from contamination by using appropriate packing and containers. You should keep chilled food at the same temperature using cool boxes, bags, or refrigerated vans, and keep ready-to-eat food separate from raw ingredients.
Food handlers must have appropriate training and supervision. However, there is no requirement for hygiene certification for those preparing or selling food. Food safety skills can be learned through self-study or on-the-job training. Personal hygiene education should cover handwashing and protective clothing.
FSA food safety guidelines state that you must:
- Ensure food is safe to eat and not treated in any way that will make it harmful to consume
- Be the same quality that you state it is and ensure the labelling, marketing, and advertising does not mislead consumers
- Display your food hygiene rating, which is mandatory in Wales and Northern Ireland
- Keep a record of where you purchased food for your business
- Withdrawer unsafe food and fill out an incident report
- Use a leaflet or poster to tell the public why food is recalled or withdrawn
Food Preparation & Handling
To maintain excellent food safety, you or your prep team should use different utensils, chopping boards, and plates for raw and cooked food. Food handlers should wash utensils between tasks to help prevent cross-contamination. Your catering team should always wash their hands when moving between handling raw and cooked food.
When you store raw food, use dishes with a lip to prevent dripping. You can also store raw poultry, meat, shellfish, and fish on the refrigerator’s bottom shelf to prevent drips or splashes from contaminating uncooked food ingredients.
When you purchase ingredients, you should use separate shopping bags for cooked and raw ingredients. After emptying the bags, check for spillages and discard plastic bags with any evidence of a spill. If you use cotton bags, these can be laundered. Your food prep team can wash fruit and vegetables but should not wash raw meat. Washing raw meat increases the likelihood of cross-contamination, while the cooking process kills any bacteria.
Food safety is the backbone of any good catering firm, so it pays dividends to spend a little time focusing on hygiene.