SAFETY ALERT: July 2017 | Food & Hygiene Safety

This Safety Alert has been issued to highlight lessons learnt following a recent BBC Watchdog investigation and the discovery of faecal coliform bacteria found in ice at three of UKs biggest high street coffee chains.

Take-away coffee in cardboard cups has been a growing phenomenon in recent years as is Britain’s love for fast food and dining out. We do however take food safety and hygiene standards of the purveyors for granted.

Food safety and hygiene in the public sector is heavily regulated and enforced by local authority environmental health officers, but resources are stretched thinly and sometimes poor practice is not identified soon enough. The emphasis on ‘Health like Safety’ applies to general wellbeing and impacts on employee sickness absence as well as public health, so it’s important that good hygiene standards are applied in the workplace.

Bacteria are microscopic organisms that can’t be seen by the naked eye but can grow disproportionately in the right environment, i.e. warm, moist conditions within residue food and human/animal excretions causing mild upset stomach, diarrhoea and dehydration to serious debilitating food poisoning and dysentery.

Adequate welfare provision including warm water, soap & hand drying facilities must be available and these should be separate to any food & drink preparation facilities to avoid cross contamination. If your premises incorporate communal kitchen areas for drinks and for warming up food through to cafeteria and canteen facilities with catering equipment, essential cleaning arrangements must be provided, basic training of catering staff and appropriate general direction to all employees to ensure a good standard of hygiene. This should include ensuring spills are promptly cleared up and carrying hot drinks up and down stairs should be avoided. Even water coolers, coffee machines and dry pack hot and cold drinks dispensers need to be thoroughly cleaned and maintained.

Points to consider

  • Ensure adequate welfare facilities are provided, proportionate to your workforce to reflect the gender, cultural and ethnicity mix and are separate from the facilities used for food preparation.
  • Catering equipment including work surfaces, machines, ventilation / extract hoods are thoroughly cleaned and serviced and maintained in good serviceable order.
  • Food preparation utensils, chopping boards, cloths are colour coded and effectively cleaned regularly.
  • Instigate a regular inspection and testing regime to prove existing controls are effective.
  • Ensure catering staff are adequately trained in food hygiene & safety and display their certification.
  • Carry our routine temperature control checks on fridges, freezers and food warmers / displays.
  • Establish appropriate food storage and segregation and stock replenishment rotation procedures.
  • Encourage good personal hygiene amongst all employees via poster campaigns and strategic notices.
  • Have dedicated secure waste provision and promptly address any spills and vermin infestations.

Issued by C.G Lawson: SRC

© Steel River Consultants Ltd – 2017

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