Regardless of whether you’re trying to start your own restaurant or join up with an existing one, health and safety remain important things to consider. After all, health and safety are such big parts of how you protect staff and customers alike.
Food is such a core part of how we stay well as people, and so there’s massive pressure on restaurants and dining establishments to get it right. Every year, it is estimated that 1,000,000 people suffer from diseases in food, which costs the industry a projected £1bn.
As someone who handles food, or owns the premises, it is therefore your job to make sure that you are protecting customers and your colleagues. Food health and safety is critical, and difficult to get right if you’re not sure of how it works.
With that in mind, let’s take a quick peek at food health and safety, and how it works for you.
What Actually Is Food Health and Safety?
Okay, let’s kick this off by taking a look at what food health and safety actually is, and what it will mean for you.
In a general sense, when we talk about food health and safety, we’re looking at it from a hygiene perspective. It’s all about the preparation, serving, handling and storing of foodstuffs in such a way that contamination, food borne diseases or harm is prevented.
It is important to note that in a lot of circumstances, food hygiene and food safety are used interchangeably. But there are significant differences between the two which make them important to distinguish between. Food safety is an umbrella term. It covers all of the practices which go into making sure that food is fit for consumption, and it does it well.
On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got food hygiene. This is much more specific, and is all about food safety via the correct handling of food stuffs.
5 Easy Tips For Food Hygiene and Safety
Food hygiene in restaurants is pretty difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’re somebody who is just taking random guesses at what to do, you’ll probably get it wrong, so let’s take a look at five helpful tips.
1. Food Storage
If you’re going to effectively maintain a high level of food safety, you’re going to have to store food properly. Basically, what you will come to know is that a large amount of contamination happens because there is food storage that is being done without following proper principles.
Food storage should be separate from the kitchen, and there should be restrictions when it comes to getting into the storage rooms themselves. All the ingredients should be kept in clean, airtight, and easy to identify containers.
You should make sure that you wash raw food items before you store them. And you should never use the same storage space for storing foods together like meat and vegetables.
The reason for this is that raw food has a lot of contaminants in it. And if it is exposed to prepared foods, you get cross-contamination which is really bad.
Instead, you should have a separate place for your role food, and a separate place for your prepared food. If you can, make sure that your raw food is stored in the lower areas of the place, because that means that there is no spillage or drippage onto other food items.
You should never fill up your fridge beyond the natural capacity, and have a stock rotation. Rather than storing a high amount of foodstuff, and then actually overstocking, you should utilise everything you have properly and also avoid waste. This is vital for preventing hygiene problems.
When it comes to serving, storing, and preparing food stuffs, you need to make sure that everything is at the right temperature. By keeping food is in the correct temperature, you prevent the buildup of bacteria. Every food item will require a different temperature range, so you should group things according to the same sort of temperature.
Your staff should be properly trained in how to do this – cold food should be stored in locations below 5°C, and frozen foods should be kept in locations that are below 18°C. You should always reheat food before you serve it as well
Checking all of the food regularly, and keeping a log of the temperature is a good way to practice food hygiene. If you want to keep the proper temperature in place as often as possible, it’s a good idea to have set up some kind of schedule for temperature checking, and train your staff on how to do that.
Cross contamination can be a big problem in the kitchen. Basically, when poisonous or bacteria-filled substances move from one food to another, this is called cross contamination. In places where the kitchen is quite small, or there is a very small storage space, cross contamination is pretty common.
Obviously, cross contamination is dangerous, and will cause a massive health hazard in the restaurant. It’s also a pretty good way to kill your reputation stone cold dead. In this regard, you need to be pretty vigilant to avoid cross contamination. Make sure that there are good hygiene practices, store food in separate places, separate the utensils that you use for preparing different types of foods, things like that
A clean restaurant is a safe restaurant. Cleanliness is one of those things that people have to get right, but very few actually do. Ultimately, cleanliness is all about taking the appropriate steps to protect yourself and other people. The customer experience is also built around how clean and tidy the place is.
Thankfully, being clean is not difficult. You just have to make sure that you put together a checklist to ensure that all of your staff are doing the correct things to keep the place clean. Let’s check them out together.
- Make sure that you wash and disinfect the entire kitchen and dining area with the correct disinfectant. You should provide your staff with adequate training in regards to cleaning and equipment.
- Make sure that there is no instance where food is handled with their hands. Staff should wear gloves when they process food at all times. If you do have to use your hands, proper handwashing procedure should be followed at all times.
- Make sure that you have a proper disposal plan for waste. If you’re going to store waste, never do it anywhere near a food storage area or food preparation area. Sanitise any utensils that are used in handling raw food items, and make sure they are cleaned before using different foods.
- Regularly review, monitor, and make alterations to cleaning procedures as necessary to ensure maximum efficiency.
Remember that improving is a constant and ongoing process. There will never be a point where you are perfect, you will simply have more to experience. It’s a good idea to ask customers and other people for feedback, because this will help you to improve as a restaurant. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, because this is how you learn and grow.
So, in conclusion, it is pretty tricky to make sure that you are keeping good levels of food safety and hygiene practice. Obviously, your restaurant will hinge on your ability to do these things.
Training is probably one of the most important things that you can look at when it comes to getting good at food hygiene. If you’re not properly trained, you can’t hope to succeed, so you need to make sure that you have studied as many different ways as possible, and learnt from professionals.
Asking your staff to focus on self-improvement as well is never a bad thing. Not only does it encourage progression, but it means that staff are up-to-date and ready to help.
Remember that at the end of the day, your business will hinge on customer support. If customers don’t like your business, they’re not going to come anywhere near you, so you have to make sure that you have carefully and strategically designed your business in such a way that works for them. Feedback is an essential part of the customer experience. Not only do you need to be prepared to deliver feedback to staff, but you also have to be prepared to take it from customers yourself.
Fundamentally, food hygiene is a tricky one. There are numerous things to think about, a lot of different approaches you can take, and quite a few criteria for what is up to spec. Remember that the official standards will apply, and you can easily look these up by doing a quick Google search. You really can’t cut corners when it comes to food hygiene, because that’s how mistakes happen. You need to make sure that you are being considerate, effective, and reliable when it comes to food health and safety, because your customers shouldn’t have to feel like they’re at risk.