14 December 2018
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Food Safety tips

On this page you will find valuable information about food safety as well as useful tips that are suitable for food handlers to use at home, a private event or a place of work.


Danger Zone
Its important that you do everything possible to try to keep food out of the Danger Zone, as bacteria can quickly grow in it. At worst food should not be in the Danger Zone (which is defined as being between the range of 4C and 60C) for no more than 2 hours. Having said that, there are certain foods may be exempt from these requirements. 


Dishwashers
These are very effective at cleaning kitchen items and utensils. They can wash at a very high temperature, and if used, should be in good working order, regularly maintained and of adequate capacity.



Environmental Health Officers (EHOs)
These are qualified professionals who are usually employed by District Councils to carry out a wide range of functions to protect, maintain and enhance public health. They have the legal powers  to enter food premises at any reasonable time, seize food, examine business records, take samples of food and in extreme cases close down a business. They will always have identification on them, and can;

  • Handle complaints from members of the public about food quality, hygiene standards and safety issues.
  • Investigate outbreaks of food poisoning
  • Give evidence in cases that come to court
  • Advise employers and companies on food safety matters.


Fire fighting equipment
Fire fighting equipment must be readily available and easily accessible in a food preparation area. Apart from a water based or non water-based extinguishers a fire blanket should also be available. The equipment should be serviced at least once every 12 months.


Food labels
Food packaging labels provide valuable information about when to use the food and how to store it. By reading them and following them you can reduce the instances of food poisoning or spoilage. 


Food poisoning (people most at risk)
Although food borne bacteria can strike anyone and anywhere, some people are at a higher risk of getting infections. These groups include pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems. All of these groups should pay extra attention to preparing, handling or eating food.


Food Standards Agency
In the UK this is an independent government department responsible for food safety and hygiene.


Food management system
Anyone who operates a food business in the UK, should have a documented Food Safety Management System, which must be based on the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point). 


Freezers

  • Aim to keep the temperature of a freezer between minus 18 and minus 22 degrees centigrade. 
  • Do not allow ice to build up inside freezers.
  • Keep freezers away from sources of heat and direct sunlight.


Frozen foods

  • Frozen foods should not, have developed large ice crystals, be discoloured or dried-out.
  • Use the star-marking panel on your freezer door to find out how long you can freeze foods for. 
  • Make sure that any frozen food you intend to cook is fully defrosted before you use it.
  • When freezing food make sure that the wrapping is as tight as possible, this helps to exclude air which in turn prevents dehydration and other problems such as ‘freezer burn’.


Grease stains in the kitchen
Any grease on worktops or kitchen utensils will repel water and prevent disinfectants from working properly. Use a detergent or degreaser to remove grease deposits, and only then use a disinfectant. 


Ice machines 
These should be directly connected to a mains water supply as this helps to ensure that ice is not made from water already infected by microorganisms.


Plates
Never serve cooked food that is about to be eaten on a plate that has previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.


Protective clothing
It is vital for food handlers to wear appropriate protective clothing. Protective clothing should only be worn in a food preparation area, and must be removed when a worker leaves the food preparation area. They must not be used to travel to work in, and instead should be kept at work so that all clothes changing is done on site. This helps to ensure that the clothing does not become contaminated by outside germs or bacteria which are then carried into a kitchen. 


Refuse
Food waste must be removed daily, and should not be allowed to accumulate in the food preparation area.


Reporting things to supervisors 
Food handlers should tell their supervisors about any;

  • Accidents
  • Incidents
  • Near misses
  • Equipment that is broken or damaged.
  • Overseas trips they have been on.


Spoilage of food
Oxygen is a major cause of food spoilage and vitamin loss. By keeping oxygen out of any food packaging you can help to preserve the nutrient value of your food and help keep it fresh for longer. This is why it’s important to squeeze the air out of bags and seal lids tightly. 


Training for food handlers
Staff who handle high risk food will need much more specialised training than those who handle low risk foods.


Transporting food
Always place fresh or frozen raw meat, poultry and fish in separate bags or areas away from fresh vegetables or other ready to eat foods.  This can help prevent cross contamination through the leakage of fluids etc.


Vegetables 

  • Its a good idea to remove and throw away the outer leaves of leafy green vegetables, like lettuce and spinach before you are about to use them. 
  • Thoroughly rinse all fruit and vegetables in clean running tap water to remove soil, bacteria, insects and any pesticides.


Washing hands
Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food, and also when you:

  • touch your face or hair
  • go to the restroom
  • have a smoke break

Make sure that you wash the most commonly missed parts of your hands which are the back of the hand and tops of the finger tips around the nails. Also note that anti-bacterial gels or hand sanitizers only tend to work on clean hands which are not dirty or greasy, this is why you should use soap and hot water.


Washing up 
This can be carried out either in a efficient dishwasher, or by hand. Do not use cloths for drying or polishing, instead use disposable paper towels. 


Washing floors
In a busy food preparation area be sure to use appropriate warning signs to indicate where the floor has just been washed and is still wet.


Related courses
Food hygiene course online


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