For understandable reasons, food hygiene and safety are major concerns for all individuals across the world. Research conducted by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has estimated that around 2.4 million cases of foodborne illness occur every year in the UK. Of these cases, more than 20,000 people were hospitalised due to food poisoning with over 180 reported deaths.
Norovirus accounts for the highest number of cases in the UK every year at around 383,000. This is then followed by Campylobacter and Clostridium perfringens with around 299,000 and 85,000 cases respectively. Listeria monocytogenes has the least number of estimated cases at 162 a year. However, it has the highest proportion of deaths at around 26 fatalities out of a total of 162 cases. It has been found that eating out accounts for an estimated 37% of all food poisoning cases and takeaways account for 26%. Additionally, within retail 30% of cases were found to be caused by open-headed lettuces, 4% by raspberries, and 3% by oysters.
Consumers have a right to have expectations when it comes to food hygiene and safety. When dining in a restaurant, eating a takeaway, or buying from a supermarket, it is expected to be free from contamination. When consuming any food and drink the last thing a person should be worrying about is norovirus, salmonella, or unlabelled allergens.
What Is Food Contamination?
Food contamination is dangerous and can have serious consequences from sickness to death. As well as causing harm to a consumer’s health and safety it can also damage a company’s reputation. There are four main types of contamination: chemical, microbial, physical, and allergenic.
- Chemical – when food comes into contact with toxic chemicals such as cleaning products, fertilisers, or pesticides.
- Microbial – when a food has been contaminated by microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, mould, fungi, and toxins.
- Physical – when food has been contaminated by a foreign object such as jewellery, buttons, hair, or dust.
- Allergenic – when food that causes an allergic reaction comes into contact with another food. For instance, the same knife has been used to cut regular bread but also then used to cut gluten-free bread.
All food is at risk of contamination. Therefore, it is a legal requirement to ensure that the food processing system is free from these contaminants and safe for the consumer. Ensuring good hygiene practices is an essential part of food safety and preventing food poisoning.
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)
HACCP is a preventative approach and a widely used quality-control procedure. It identifies and addresses potential problems within a food handling process. When followed correctly, it can significantly reduce the likelihood of cross-contamination and other hazards. It is essential for a business to create a HACCP plan. This plan helps keep food safe from biological, chemical, and physical food safety hazards.
Within the food processing and manufacturing industry, employee uniforms play an important role in this. Without the correct type of uniforms and strict cleaning and maintenance procedures in place, food could easily be contaminated with dangerous pathogens.
HACCP Compliant Uniforms
A HACCP-compliant uniform is, therefore, one that aligns with standards and promotes a hygienic food handling environment. All HACCP food processing uniforms such as trousers, jackets, and smocks have certain design features. All of which ensure the uniforms comply and reduce the risk of contamination:
- No outward-facing pockets – Although pockets are useful, they can host and trap bacteria as well as objects like hair or lint.
- No buttons – Buttons can easily pop off and fall into food or packaging as well as trap bacteria.
- Strong fabric – low-quality fabric can start to deteriorate after multiple washes. Therefore, the fabric can begin to break apart, fray, and contaminate the food. So, food-handling HACCP uniforms are often made using industrial-grade materials.
HACCP Uniform Guidelines
Once HACCP uniforms are in place it is important to follow certain guidelines to ensure they stay compliant and to standard:
- Clean and sanitized uniforms need to be worn on a daily basis.
- Ensure that there are spare, clean, and sanitized uniforms available if current ones are soiled.
- Avoid using any item of clothing that has become torn, frayed, or otherwise damaged.
- Employees shouldn’t wear any jewellery during their shifts.
- Uniforms should not be worn outside the area where food is handled.
HACCP Compliant Hygienic Laundering
Uniforms can easily contaminate food processing environments; therefore, laundry processes must also be HACCP compliant. Microorganisms can and do survive home washing processes. Coliform bacteria and staphylococcus aureus can survive on cotton fibres for up to 21 days, and 7 days on polyester. These bacteria often survive in a domestic washing machine and can be transported back with a person to the workplace. The only secure way to avoid contamination is by using an industrial washing service. There are various critical control points that apply to commercial washing machines:
- Wash cycles must have temperatures high enough to kill common pathogens
- Chemicals used must kill bacteria and other pathogens that can exist and survive on food products
- The drying temperature must be hot and long enough, to destroy the remaining pathogens without damaging the uniform
- Ensure the proper handling, transporting, and storing of the textiles after the washing and drying are finished
Lindström Catering Clothing Rental
Here at Lindström, we ensure you can provide your employees with the best possible HACCP uniforms. Our garments meet the highest hygiene standards set for food processing. Our workwear complies with HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and we follow the EU standard EN-14065 to ensure the required hygiene level throughout the service process.
What is EN-14065?
BS EN 14065 is an established basis for assuring the microbiological quality of laundered textiles. It is recognised in over 30 countries across Europe. The standard sets out a number of process control requirements that the laundry must implement and monitor in its daily operations including:
- Identifying and recording potential biocontamination hazards
- Assessing risks and potential impacts
- Setting up a team responsible for the system and controls
- Implementing and operating the system
- Putting in place monitoring systems
- Recording results and non-conformance with systems
- Reviewing the effectiveness of the system completing internal audits
Ensure that your employees always have enough hygienic workwear to protect themselves, the production, and your working environments. Our catering clothes include chef jackets, chef trousers, chef hats, and chef whites. All our catering jackets are available in various sizes, come in short and long sleeves and boast straight sleeve openings that are adjustable with press buttons.
Catering workwear rental is a smart economic option that is kind to the environment and removes the hassles of supplying, laundering, and repairing damaged uniforms. For more details on our catering clothing rental range, please contact us on 01234 866 210 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.