It is essential to maintain excellent standards of hygiene in food businesses and at home, to ensure the health of those consuming food is protected. Excellent standards of food hygiene will have a positive impact upon employee morale and the sale of food, as consumers are far more likely to consume food from businesses which maintain excellent standards of food hygiene. Therefore, knowing how to maintain excellent standards of food hygiene is important.
The Food Standards Agency in the UK is an independent department of the Government and is responsible for protecting consumer health by monitoring food businesses and their standards of food hygiene. To monitor the standards of food hygiene in different businesses, the Food Standards Agency calculate food hygiene ratings. Food hygiene ratings help consumers to choose where to eat and where to buy food. The food hygiene rating scheme gives food businesses a rating from 0 to 5, with 5 being classed as very good food hygiene. Therefore, achieving a high food hygiene rating is important for businesses as it attracts more customers and positive attention to the business.
How to maintain excellent standards of food hygiene
Cleaning is of the utmost importance. Ensure that you clean and disinfect the area which you are working in. This includes all of the equipment and utensils which will also be used, such as chopping boards, spoons and rolling pins.
Personal hygiene standards are just as important. This involves cleaning your hands with soap and hot water thoroughly, before, during and after cooking. Clean clothes must be worn, hair must be tied completely back and gloves worn when bare hands are handling food.
Those who are responsible for the cooking of food must ensure food reaches the correct temperature, which will kill off all dangerous bacteria: a core temperature of 75°C.
Those responsible must complete all necessary food safety and food hygiene training which will teach them about the different forms of food contamination including biological, chemical, physical and cross-contamination.
When it comes to storing food properly, food handlers must be well aware of which food must be stored at room temperature, chilled or frozen. The food which needs to be chilled should be kept between the temperature of 0°C and 5°C. Refrigerators should be set at 3°C or 4°C.
Foods which must be frozen should be stored in a freezer which is set at the temperature of -18°C. Failing to store foods correctly is a demonstration of poor food hygiene standards and will lead to a food business being prosecuted for this.
Cross-contamination occurs when foods which must be kept separate, such as raw poultry and vegetables, come into contact with one another and the germs from the surface of each food transfer across to the surface of another food.
To ensure that cross-contamination does not occur, foods must be stored separately. For example, raw meat must be wrapped up and placed at the bottom of a refrigerator, away from other foods, ensuring that juices from the raw meat can’t drip onto other foods.
The equipment which is used to prepare and cook foods, such as chopping boards and frying pans, must be thoroughly cleaned before different foods are used. For example, after chopping raw meat on a chopping board, either thoroughly clean this chopping board, or use a completely separate chopping board for other foods.
Therefore, following the necessary training for food safety and food hygiene will ensure that your food business can produce food safely and effectively.