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Food Safety for Hospitality

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Food Safety for Hospitality

Hospitality businesses such as, restaurants, pubs, cafes, bars, takeaways, sandwich shops and similar businesses that prepare food for customers on premises or for takeaway are governed by legislation to ensure food handling and preparation processes are safe and to keep up to date documentation to show this. Good food hygiene ensures that food prepared for customers is safe. It prevents harmful microorganisms that can cause serious illness from contaminating food, prevents cross contamination, enables businesses to comply with the law, and helps protect your business reputation.

Food hygiene authorities can visit business premises to inspect them to check for compliance with legal requirements. It can include taking samples for scientific analysis and inspecting records. In the UK authorities issue Food Hygiene Ratings that are publicly available (often displayed on the front of the premises) which can improve or damage business reputations, and provides added incentive to produce food of high quality. Other legislation that affects hospitality are the Food Safety Act 1990 (supply of food fit for consumption) and the General Food Hygeine (England/Scotland/Wales/Ireland) Regulations 2006 (any risk of infestation by rodents and insects must be prevented). All are designed to help ensure that foods and beverages are safe for consumption.

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Food Safety HACCP

Legal requirements vary slightly across the UK, but the general principles of food hygiene are the same, usually based on the Codex Alimentarius - a collection of internationally recognised standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations foods and food safety. The regulations will also be flexible to adapt to the size of a business, so that smaller businesses have simpler requirements. Local agencies responsible for monitoring businesses for food safety and enforcing regulations will have guides available to help you develop procedures and documentation suitable for your business.

One of the key requirements for preparing and storing safe food is to have procedures based on the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point). Even small businesses handling food such as individual restaurants, bars and cafes should have procedures based on HACCP. They can be adapted to the size of business and complexity of the food preparation processes.

HACCP is a systematic approach to identifying, evaluating, and controlling food safety hazards. A food safety hazard is anything that could make food dangerous to eat and can be:

  • Microbiological: bacteria, viruses, tapeworms, fungi from contamination from hands, pests or poor storage conditions allowing growth of microorganisms
  • Chemical: any non-food chemical, such as cleaning products, pesticides, non-food-safe colourings and non-food safe preservatives
  • Physical: objects such as broken glass, pieces of stone or concrete, machinery parts, plastic, sand, hair, finger nails, jewellery, buttons

Seven basic principles of HACCP can be applied to any hospitality business:

  1. Conduct a hazard analysis: analyse processes and identify where the risks are
  2. Determine the Critical Control Points (CCPs) at each stage where a hazard could occur
  3. Determine the critical limits that must be met to ensure food safety, such as cooking temperature and time, cooling time, storage temperature and time
  4. Establish monitoring procedures, such as visual observations and measuring of temperatures
  5. Decide the action you need to take when something goes wrong or a critical limit is not met: this can be further cooking or heating, if this is safe, discarding food, cleaning up spills
  6. Establish verification procedures to make sure corrective actions are working: this can include checking records, observing the person doing the monitoring, checking equipment used for monitoring
  7. Set up record-keeping and documentation procedures to have proof for food hygiene inspectors that you are taking appropriate safety measures.

Hospitality Premises

Buildings, rooms and areas involved in food preparation and storage must be kept clean and in good condition, also the design must provide suitable space for working and maintaining hygienic practices, prevent build-up of dirt and mould, and provide suitable conditions for handling and storage of food.

The premises should provide adequate:

  • Handwashing facilities and toilets for staff, separated from food preparation areas, with soap, hot and cold running water and hygienic drying
  • Ventilation in kitchens and toilets: it should control condensation, temperature, odours, humidity or air-borne particles and prevent contamination in food preparation areas
  • Adequate lighting
  • Drainage for kitchens and toilets, designed and constructed to prevent contamination
  • Facilities for staff to change clothes, where needed
  • Storage of cleaning chemicals, disinfectants and other chemicals to prevent contamination of food

The design of rooms must allow good food hygiene practices and processes, including protection from contamination during food preparation and prevention of cross contamination. Food safety legislation has specific requirements for the food preparation area relating to the condition and design of:

  • Floors: floors should be constructed of material that is easy to clean and safe to walk on and maintained in sound condition
  • Walls: should be made of durable impervious materials that are washable, non-toxic, easy to clean and maintain
  • Ceilings: ceilings and overhead fittings (lighting, piping, cabling) should be designed to prevent accumulation of dirt, mould, condensation and risk of contamination
  • Windows: must be constructed to prevent dirt accumulation and have insect screens where necessary
  • Doors: should be easy to clean and constructed of non-absorbent material
  • Surfaces: should be made of smooth, washable, non-toxic, corrosion resistant material, and maintained in a good condition
  • Washing facilities for equipment and food: these must be adequate for washing food and utensils and have hot and cold water

Food and Cross Contamination

All raw materials and ingredients used in preparing food stuffs must be safe and not contaminated with anything that would make the final product unfit for human consumption. Storage, prepararion, processing and delivery must protect food from contamination and cross contamination that makes it harmful to health or allows it become unfit to be eaten. This includes adequate pest control provision and having processes and procedures that limit bacterial levels to within specified criteria. Cross contamination of food from preperation surfaces, hands, equipment or other foodstuffs by harmful bacteria, viruses or pathogens can be greatly reduced by:

  • Wash hands thoroughly after touching raw meat, especially poultry, and unwashed raw vegetables
  • Wash hands thoroughly after going to the toilet or touching pets
  • Do not let raw meat and unwashed raw vegetables touch other foods
  • Cover raw meat in a fridge so it cannot touch other foods and store below other foods to prevent blood drips from contaminating them
  • Do not prepare ready-to-eat foods using a chopping board or utensils that have been used to prepare raw meat or raw vegetables, especially root vegetables and leeks that may contain soil
  • Use disposable cloths for wiping and cleaning up spills. Change cotton cloths often and wash in a hot cycle to clean them thoroughly
  • Do not prepare food if you are ill with vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Clean utensils and work surfaces with detergent and hot water. Those that come into contact with raw meat, unwashed vegetables and soil from vegetables need thorough cleaning and sterilising. Use separate chopping boards and utensils for preparing raw meats and other foods

Pest Control

Hospitality businesses must be able to prove when audited they have adequate pest control measures to prevent pests such as rats, mice, cockroaches, flies and even nusiance birds from contaminating food both in storage and preparation areas as well as front of house - these include:

  • Building design and maintenance to prevent means of access, through gaps, openings, pipework etc...
  • Adequate storage of ingredients and prepared food that prevents access to pests
  • Hygiene measures to prevent access to food spills and waste that attracts pests and allows them to survive in the food environment

If pets are permitted in the building, there must also be measures to prevent contamination of food by pets.

Food Waste

Food waste must be removed from the food preparation areas as soon as possible and stored in containers that are suitable for waste disposal services to handle. These containers must be designed to be easy to clean, prevent contamination, be kept in good condition and prevent access to pests such as rodents, flies and scavenging gulls. Waste disposal must also comply with hygiene and environmental regulations.

Staff Training

Staff handling food must be trained in food hygiene so they have an understanding of the requirements for their work. Training your staff on pest awareness will help to minimise the risks of a serious pest infestation by teaching them what signs to watch for, why it's important to be vigilant and what to do as soon as you discover a pest problem. Our myLearning portal offers easy interactive online learning to educate your employees on the pests that can cause issues for hospitality.