Bacteria are all around us, including on the food we eat. Good food hygiene involves slowing down and controlling the development of harmful microbes that may cause serious illness.
The Four Cs
There are four main points to remember, and they all begin with C: cross-contamination, cleaning, chilling and cooking. If you implement these within your catering establishment, you should be able to eliminate the more common food safety problems.
Cross-contamination involves the movement of bacteria between different types of food or surfaces and equipment used within the kitchen. This most commonly occurs when raw food touches ready-to-eat food or surfaces it is prepared on. Points to remember include cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and hands before and after preparing food, keeping ready-to-eat food and raw food separate and educating your staff in the ways to avoid cross-contamination.
If cleaning is practised effectively, it should remove bacteria from hands, surfaces and equipment. It is important to clean on a regular basis and not let spillages or other forms of food build up. The choice of effective commercial warewashers is extremely important, as the items placed in these machines have previously been in contact with both cooked and uncooked food as well as numerous people. Excellent robust machinery is available to help in this regard and is sold through reputable agents in the UK such as https://www.247cateringsupplies.co.uk/bar-supplies/commercial-warewashers.
Bacterial growth slows down at reduced temperatures, so any foods that need to be chilled must not be left at room temperature for long; this also applies to ready-to-eat food. Food that is cooked should be cooled as quickly as possible before being placed in the fridge. Do check your fridges on a regular basis to ensure that they are cooling to the correct temperature.
High-temperature cooking will kill most harmful bacteria. Thorough cooking is most important for processed food where bacteria may be contained within the body of the food, such as sausages or minced products.
The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles are a series of national guidelines produced by the food industry and recognized by the Food Standards Agency. These help caterers to become aware of the way they handle food and help them to implement protocols to ensure that only food of the highest quality is produced in their establishment.