5 Star Food Hygiene Ratings Insider Guide
Nansen Green Catering Consultancy’s Food Safety Guru has issued five top tips on how to 'guarantee' a five-star rating.
Now more than ever it is time to review your catering business' Food Safety practices to achieve and maintain a "5 Food Hygiene Rating. The government has said it will soon be a legal requirement for all UK food businesses to display and make their Food Hygiene Rating sticker visible to customers. Those businesses with a low rating will be be forced to communicate to their clientele that their food safety is not as good as their competition. The highest 5 rating is achievable by all business with some simple changes to practices, training and guidance from either the local authority environmental health or our approachable and extremely knowledgeable Food Safety Guru at Nansen Green Catering Consultancy.
The most common mistake is storing raw foods with ready-to-eat foods. Remember raw foods does not mean just raw meat and fish, it also includes unwashed and raw vegetables as they can be contaminated with E. coli and many other bacteria. A storage system in the kitchen can eliminate any potential cross contamination of raw with ready- to-eat.
Washing raw foods (including meat) in the kitchen can result in cross contamination which can cause catastrophic problems. Having separate sinks for different uses is one option but if this isn’t feasible, plan the day so ready-to-eat foods are washed first, then raw vegetables next and then thoroughly sanitise surfaces and sinks before washing dishes.
Have separate time slots for dish-washing and food prep and stick to them and ensure cleaning and sanitising procedures are documented. If the kitchen is large enough, split it into separate work areas such as raw meat, raw fish, raw veg and ready-to-eat preparation. Using the same preparation space for raw and ready-to-eat foods can also cause cross-contamination.
A successful catering operation is an organised one and there are occasions when preparing mise-en-place ingredients need to be cooked in advance and then cooled until required. Cooling food too slowly can result in bacteria multiplying to dangerous levels potentially resulting in a food poisoning incident. The secret for compliance is cooling ingredients quickly to below 8°C within 90 minutes; using a blast chiller is the preferred method or alternatively separating cooked foods into smaller portions and cool in a bath of ice.
Most importantly documenting this process demonstrates your understand and that you have controlled the hazards.
Keeping a clean hand wash basin with antibacterial soap, hot and cold water and a disposable paper towel to dry hands is vital in keeping the kitchen clean. If using disposable food preparation gloves be sure to observe hygiene rules, these gloves still get dirty and can harbour bacteria. Hands with or without gloves need washing regularly especially after handling raw foods and before handling foods that are ready to eat. It is a misconception that gloved hands are more hygienic than without, it is a fact catering staff wearing gloves wash their hands less frequently than those not wearing gloves.
Dish cloths can harbour six times more bacteria than toilet handles and six out of 10 dishcloths harbour life-threatening bacteria such as E. coli.
Use blue roll and sanitiser to clean work surfaces as cloths that are used more than once can spread bacteria causing cross-contamination. Disposing and/or washing cleaning cloths, tea towels and oven cloths at 90°C is essential to kill these bacteria. Keeping a cleaning schedule in place is an easy way to make sure routine cleaning jobs take place and the standard of cleaning in your kitchen is consistent.
5. Staff training and record keeping
Training staff how to prepare food safely through an accredited training provider is essential. A class room based certificated training course with an examination will be far more effective than an on-line (box ticking) course, especially when it comes to protecting your customers and business reputation from harm.
Food Safety Guru says Environmental Health Inspectors awarding a 5 Hygiene Rating are looking for catering staff with a comprehensive understanding of food safety and a business which demonstrates confidence in food safety management.
Catering operators will not get a Level 5 Food Hygiene Rating unless catering staff can demonstrate a good understanding of the process associated with HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) which include:
understanding the food safety hazards
knowing how to control and monitor food safety hazards
understanding and following critical temperature limits for cooking and chilling
keeping written records to provide your business with a “Due Diligence Defence”
For further free advice on how to guarantee a "5 Food Hygiene Rating" contact us now:
Nansen Green Catering Consultancy
(t) 020 3633 5229