Food Safety Long
28th October 2016

According to Wikipedia “Food safety is a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness. This includes a number of routines that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards. In this way food safety often overlaps with food defense to prevent harm to consumers. The tracks within this line of thought are safety between industry and the market and then between the market and the consumer. In considering industry to market practices, food safety considerations include the origins of food including the practices relating to food labeling, food hygiene, food additives and pesticide residues, as well as policies on biotechnology and food and guidelines for the management of governmental import and export inspection and certification systems for foods. In considering market to consumer practices, the usual thought is that food ought to be safe in the market and the concern is safe delivery and preparation of the food for the consumer.”

Which, is probably the one of the most comprehensive answers you’ll get, however does it actually answer the fairly simple question of “what is food safety?”

At STS Solutions we don’t believe food safety needs to be complicated.

Our aim is to make food safety simple for every business. Whether you’re a pop-up food stall or an international, multi site franchise, the level of service you receive from your chosen food safety partner should be tailored to your business, not a pre-prepared, one size fits all solution. It doesn’t matter what your business needs, whether you need someone to conduct a food safety audit on your premises, to help you with HACCP development or provide training solutions for your staff, our team of expert food safety consultants tailor everything to your needs. We don’t believe in boring you with technical jargon and industry buzzwords, we believe that your chosen food safety partner should provide the help you need to ensure the product you provide is safe.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Achieving a good level of food safety, according to the FSA, should enable your business to:

At STS Solutions, we know that by following our advice you’ll be able to outwardly demonstrate that you are exceeding these very basic business targets to any EHO or industry body that may come knocking. In fact, we’re so adamant on this that our own STS Public Sector Code of Practice is recognised nationally as the Safe Standards of Supplies for ALL UK hospitals. Not only that, but our competitors offer compliance services in our own STS Code of Practice & Technical Standard for Suppliers to the Public Sector! What does that say about our competitors?

What steps need to be taken to achieve this?

As long as you remember the 4 C’s then achieving a good level of food safety (and food hygiene) shouldn’t be difficult for any food business, even a newly formed one that’s trying to find it’s way in the marketplace. But over time, every business eventually becomes complacent. Both management and staff assume that the 4C’s are constantly being adhered to, rather than ensuring that they are.

So, what are the 4C’s?

According to the FSA, “good food hygiene is all about controlling harmful bacteria, which can cause serious illness. The four main things to remember for good hygiene are”:

  • Cross-contamination
  • Cleaning
  • Chilling
  • Cooking

If you’re unfamiliar with the 4C’s, maybe the food industry isn’t for you! In their simplest terms they are:

Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination is when bacteria is spread between food, surfaces or equipment used in the kitchen. Cross-contamination is most likely to happen whenever raw food touches or drips onto other food, surfaces or equipment. As cross-contamination can occur so easily it is also, unsurprisingly, recognised as one of the most common causes of food poisoning. So what do you need to do to avoid cross-contamination and ensure you are delivering a high level of food safety?

  • Ensure you properly clean and disinfect all work surfaces and equipment
  • Use different equipment for raw meat/poultry and ready to eat food
  • Wash your hands before preparing any food and after handling raw food
  • Separate raw food and ready to eat food, including packaging, in any storage units such as fridges etc
  • Provide separate working areas, storage facilities, clothing and staff for the handling of ready-to-eat food
  • Use separate machinery and equipment, such as vacuum packing machines, slicers and mincers, for raw and ready-to-eat food
  • Separate cleaning materials, including cloths, sponges and mops, should be used in areas where ready-to-eat foods are stored, handled and prepared
  • Make sure that your staff know how to avoid cross-contamination

Cleaning

Properly cleaning yourself, equipment, surfaces and where required, food can stop harmful bacteria from spreading. You should do the following things to prevent the spread of bacteria:

  • Staff must thoroughly wash their hands before handling food
  • All surfaces and equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between tasks, especially after the handling of raw food
  • Clean as you go! Clear away any spillage as you work and ensure your equipment and surfaces is kept clean at all times
  • Use cleaning or disinfecting products that are suitable for the job you are doing
  • Don’t let waste food build up!

Chilling

Correctly storing food within a chilled environment, such as a refrigerator, can help to stop harmful bacteria from growing. Certain foods need to be kept chilled, such as food with a ‘use by’ date as well as most ready to eat foods. As you’ll doubtless be aware, it’s extremely important that these types of food are not left to stand at room temperature as this can cause them to spoil, Remember:

  • Ensure any chilled food is cold enough upon delivery and has not been held at a higher temperature during transit
  • Put chilled food into your refrigeration unit ASAP
  • Cooked food should be chilled and immediately stored within the refrigeration unit
  • Try to only remove chilled foods when they are required to prevent bacteria build up and spoilage before preparation
  • Regularly ensure that your refrigeration unit is at the correct temperature
  • Rotate stock when required

Cooking

Thoroughly cooking food kills bacteria. Whether cooking or reheating, food must be cooked correctly and should be steaming hot throughout. It’s especially important that any poultry, pork, rolled joints and any food made from minced meat. as harmful bacteria can still be found within the middle of these kinds of products. Despite popular trends, such as serving burgers rare, it’s not advisable to serve these products rare or pink and they should be steaming hot throughout. However, whole cuts of beef or lamb, such as steaks, can be served pink or rare provided they are fully seared on the outside.

These simple steps will be enough to ensure that your business delivers a high level of food safety however these things alone may not keep you complaint with food safety regulations in your industry. Food manufacturers have different food safety requirements from restaurants and this is where STS Solutions can help your business.

We don’t just know how to keep you food safety compliant, we’ve been doing it for 30 years, so whether you need an audit, HACCP development, a supplier assessment, need help dealing with a food complaint or anything else, you can trust our expert food safety consultants to be there for you. Find out how we can help your business, call us today on 01252 728 300


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