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Food Safety: Why should you consider Food Safety so important?

Did you know that worldwide, about 420 000 people die each year, and some 1.6 million people fall ill daily, from eating contaminated food!

Source: WHO 6 June 2023

Read that again, 1.6 million people fall ill worldwide every single day from eating contaminated food.

It does not matter if you follow the 4C’s of Food Safety, the 6C’s of Food Safety, the Golden Rules of Food Safety, the Six Pillars or the Golden 6, they all essentially teach the same rules. What is important is that you know the basics and practise them in any kitchen where you cook and sell food to the public.

There is no worse publicity than being in the media for a guest or guests contracting food poisoning at your establishment. Some of the best restaurants in the world have been affected. In fact, in the past, several Michelin star restaurants have been temporarily closed due to patrons contracting food poisoning at their establishments. The cost of closing a restaurant, lawsuits and getting patrons to trust your restaurant again, can run into millions of Dollars in lost revenue. According to Google, Spain has the highest number of reported food poisoning incidents, my guess is that this is because they are reported in Spain.

It is every food handler’s legal responsibility to understand and actively practice food safety when in the kitchen. Whilst there is a legal requirement in most countries to have a food safety control plan, food safety starts before that, firstly with every food handler’s personal hygiene and conduct in the kitchen, because food handlers are the most likely suspects when food becomes contaminated. Other focus areas should be:

  • Suppliers and supply chains: Maintaining close relationships with suppliers and supply chains will provide insight into their food safety standards. You should even insist on visiting their sites from time to time. Suppliers must ensure food products delivered meet food safety standards, and you must have controls in place to check that their transportation and all food products received meet these standards.
  • Kitchen hygiene: Keeping our kitchens clean and hygienic, ensuring monitored cleaning procedures and schedules, cleaning and sanitising surfaces and removing and handling waste correctly.
  • Storekeeping: Practicing first-in-first-out (FIFO) stock rotation. Knowing and storing different types of food at the correct temperatures.
  • Equipment: Using the correct equipment for example coloured chopping boards for different types of foods and ensuring that equipment is clean and sanitised.
  • Practicing food safety in preparation: Practicing clean-as-you-go principles, keeping areas clean and sanitised, using clean equipment.
  • Separation of food: Keeping raw and cooked food separate, if refrigerated keeping food on separate shelves. Covering and date marking food items in the fridge.
  • Temperature control: cooking food to the correct temperatures and testing the temperature of cooked food with a thermometer to ensure it has reached the correct temperature. Defrosting food correctly in the refrigerator and not in a sink of water or left out overnight. Food held for service and food stored should always be at the correct temperatures. Hot food should never be placed into a refrigerator.
  • Handwashing: Insisting on all food handlers washing and sanitising their hands correctly and regularly.

It goes without saying that kitchens are excellent breeding grounds for pathogenic bacteria as they are warm, damp and there is plenty of food to feast on. Naturally pests also love kitchens, vermin and insects are attracted to establishments that have poor food safety standards such as poor waste management. Insects and vermin carry bacteria and disease. There is nothing worse than leaving a restaurant and seeing rats scavenging in the bins outside!

It is a pet hate of mine that we spend a great deal of time, effort, and money on Food Safety, implementing Food Control Plans, but we fail to insist on staff wearing the correct food safety clothing. Recently I ordered a takeaway at a local fish and chip shop. The server took our cash and put it into the till, they were not wearing gloves. Without washing their hands, they proceeded to open the chest freezer and take out frozen chips and put them into a bowl. When they walked back into the kitchen area, I noticed the staff cooking over hot oil wearing slippers and puffer jackets. Their staff could have been burnt badly cooking with hot oil with no safety clothing. Handling money and then food, does not meet food safety standards and good kitchen hygiene practices.

Culinary Schools understand the importance of Food Safety and prioritise it by teaching students Food Safety at the outset of their program. It is also assessed continuously throughout their studies.

International Culinary Studio is so committed to promoting Food Safety and ensuring Safe Food Practices, that we recently launched our online Food Safety Micro Credential, approved by the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA). People globally may enrol on this programme. For an incredible introductory price of NZ $299 you can sign up for this Level 4 Micro credential of 5 credits registered by NZQA.

For more information:

https://www.internationalculinarystudio.com/ics-food-safety-in-catering/