For both businesses that provide food for their customers or even from the comfort of your own home – food safety is of the utmost importance. Food safety or hygiene isn’t just an aspect that businesses need to worry about – safely preparing food in the home is also really important. We will discuss in detail why food safety is important for businesses as well as how you can consider the various aspects of food safety in your kitchen.
Food safety training is a highly important aspect of businesses. Our training center, for example, provides first aid training in Bristol as well as a variety of health & safety and food safety training courses – providing training for over 18,000 delegates and 350 businesses that attend our courses every year or use our consultancy services.
Food safety is becoming more and more important with foodborne illnesses with an estimated 1 in 10 people in the world suffering from foodborne illnesses every year. Food safety is an issue that affects a variety of people and therefore action can be taken to improve food safety at a business and personal level.
Food Safety for Businesses – From Farm or Field to Table
From the production of food to the preparation and presentation at the table of a restaurant or business that prepares and serves food – there is a constant risk of food contamination, germ, and chemical contamination. This is why there are various laws that are designed to ensure that food is produced and transported safely and effectively – whilst taking every precaution to eliminate the risk of contamination. Actions must be taken to control hazards appropriately. Food safety requirements for the production of food from farms for example in the EU are below:
- Prevent contamination from air, water, feed or veterinary care.
- Keep animals designated for slaughter clean at least prior to slaughter and consider their welfare appropriately.
- Prevent pests or animals causing contamination.
- Make physical accounts of tests relevant to both animal and human health.
- Use medicine and plant protection appropriately.
- Ensure clean water is used.
- Clean animal and transport equipment/facilities and disinfect them where required.
These guidelines give us an indication of the importance of food safety from the preparation and rearing of food to the transportation stage and stage at which food is prepared and consumed at home or at a business’s premises. As there are many different stages of the handling and production of food from farm or land to the table – it’s highly important to have high standards of food safety at every level of the production process.
Food Safety in Catering or Food Handling
Businesses that prepare food or cater to customers have a duty of care for their customers. This is why it’s very important for businesses to take action and responsibility for food safety on their premises or restaurants. There often horror stories in the news or shows such as Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares that show kitchen facilities that are filthy with food years past its expiration date, however, this shouldn’t be the case for many catering facilities and restaurants around the world. That said, it’s still highly important to ensure that the proper processes are in place to keep food as sanitary as possible or to arrange for training of staff for the following reasons:
- Many countries around the world carry out inspections of restaurants and businesses to ensure that a good standard of food safety & preparation is adhered to. If a business fails these inspections then the business may be closed down until they can prove that standards have improved.
- Businesses risk the safety of their customers with diseases such as Salmonellosis & Shellfish Poisoning or other types of food poisoning.
- A business could face legal action if found to have endangered a customer through a lack of safety or preparation standards.
- A business could face a negative reputation should hey serve contaminated food or do not have clear food safety processes in place. In the world of reviews and the internet – this can be devastating to food businesses as people can upload negative experiences or images of food/facilities online.
Arranging for Staff Food Safety Training
Businesses have a legal requirement to understand food safety responsibilities. Food handlers will, therefore, need to have an understanding of their responsibilities which can be aided by arranging for food safety training. Food safety training will teach employees about the following disciplines:
- Safety while preparing food.
- Cleaning techniques.
- Storage techniques and best practice.
- Minimising contamination while handling food.
Although it may seem as if the main benefit is to ensure the safety of customers – there are also additional benefits when businesses arrange for food safety training. They will find that food wastage is reduced as food will be prepared correctly and won’t be discarded because of the fact that it was stored at incorrect temperatures or in unsuitable containers for example. This not only ensures that customers are safe when eating at a business or restaurant – but it also helps to reduce costs.
Using Food Safety Disciplines in Your Own Kitchen
There aren’t any legal requirements for preparing food in your own kitchen but you can still take some of the food disciplines discussed to keep your family safe at home. The four basic C’s that you can adopt to increase food safety in your kitchen are as follows:
- Cross-Contamination – avoid this by not spreading bacteria from raw foods and ready to eat food.
- Cooking – make sure food is cooked fully to ensure that harmful bacteria is killed off before consumption.
- Cleaning – Clean hands, equipment, and surfaces before starting the cooking process.
- Chilling – Ensure that foods are stored at their correct temperatures.
Poor food safety practices in your home increase the risk of food poisoning, which usually results in illness or diarrhea. However; older people, pregnant women or very young people could be at risk of hospitalization or serious illness from food-related illnesses. Other actions can be taken to increase the safety of your family and guests. Guests, in particular, may have certain dietary requirements or allergies so it’s important to gauge these from guests particularly if children.
Food safety is an issue that affects everyone – so it’s very important to consider how you store, prepare and cook food in your home. It’s also of the utmost performance for businesses that are involved in catering or the preparation of food at their business. Have you had any issues with food safety at a business or restaurant or do you have any additional tips to promote food safety? Let us know in the comments below.
About The Author:
Alexander Fox works for Acorn Health & Safety – one of the leading providers of health & safety training and food safety training courses in the South West of the UK.