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FOOD SAFETY TIPS

We've put together some general advice on food safety.

Food safety advice for new food businesses or home cooks setting up during the coronavirus pandemic

In a time of unprecedented events, A2Z food safety is aware that there is an increasing amount of members of the public who handle, store, prepare, cook and deliver food within the community to help assist people who are being affected by COVID 19, and for people starting up a new food business.


If you handle, prepare, store and serve food occassionally and on a small scale, you would not be required to register as a food business. However, if you provide food on a regular and organised basis then you would need to. We have therefore decided to put this fact sheet together, to help people and businesses who prepare, cook or deliver foods to anyone to ensure the food that you are producing is safe to eat.



Table Below is for Home Cooks and New Food Businesses


Purchasing

Only purchase your food from reputable suppliers, invoices should be kept helping demonstrate this. During purchase or delivery food should be checked for the condition of the packaging, dates and the temperatures of chilled (5ºC or below) or frozen foods (-18ºC or below). You also need to ensure that raw meat, fish, root vegetables are kept separate from ready-to-eat foods to prevent the risk of cross contamination.


Storage

You should ensure that refrigerators and are checked daily to ensure they hold food at 5C or less and freezers should be operating at -18C and below. All raw meats should be stored separately (below ready-to-eat foods). You should check the dates of the food daily and ensure that you follow manufacturer’s instructions on food once it has been opened. Ensure all food is kept covered, and do not store open tins within the fridge.


Preparation

You should think about how raw meats and vegetables can be handled separately from ready to eat foods in your kitchen, possibly designate certain areas for certain activates, or ensure that they are strictly separated with time and thorough cleaning and disinfection. If you are using the same surface for the preparation of raw and ready to eat foods, you should ensure that complete a two stage clean between uses. (Please see cleaning instructions below)


Under no circumstances should raw and ready to eat food be prepared on the work surface at the same time.


Cross contamination

You must make sure that all people who handle foods are aware that harmful food poisoning bacteria can spread from raw foods onto equipment, utensils and other foods. This can happen directly, for example raw meat juices dripping from raw foods onto ready to eat foods, or indirectly, a food handler touching raw foods then touching cooked foods or equipment used for ready to eat foods.


You must store all utensils, bowls and other equipment designated for raw meat within the same area to reduce the risk of cross contamination occurring, this should include separate cling film / wrapping material and a separate sanitiser spray bottle.


A separate apron should be made available for raw meat preparation in order to prevent the risks of cross contamination. It is recommended that you consider purchasing plastic disposable aprons for this activity.

Wash hands immediately after handling raw foods, raw meat packaging, raw fish, eggs, root vegetables.

You must separate chopping boards for cutting dirty root vegetables. If the vegetables are not being cooked, they should be peeled/ cut on one board, and then washed. If they are being used for salads, they must then be cut on a ready to eat cutting board.


Please note that all salads (tomatoes, cucumbers etc.) should be thoroughly washed before use in a colander.


Cleaning

You are required to thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces and equipment. If you have difficulty in purchasing sanitisers then you need to find an alternative British Standard compliant sanitiser which must have BSEN 1276 on the label.


You should undertake cleaning and disinfection at regular intervals throughout the day. This should include a two-stage cleaning process to clean items, utensils and equipment. Stage one to remove the food and grease using a suitable detergent, rinse the items then disinfect the items with a suitable disinfectant, antibacterial or sanitiser. If you have a sanitiser this may be used for the two stages of cleaning, however it must be used twice as detailed above.


Handles to the refrigerators, handles to the microwaves, handles to the units, switches, buttons, taps to the hand basin and sinks and all hand contact surfaces regularly with antibacterial spray.


Try and use single use cloths for cleaning as much as practicable to prevent cross contamination.


Personal Hygiene

Increase the frequency of hand washing, ensuring all food handlers are washing their hands for at least 40 seconds with hot water and hand soap. Dry hands with disposable paper towels and ensure taps are turned off with paper towels. Within in domestic kitchens you are required to have somewhere suitably located to wash hands. If you have a half sink, then you should designate this for hand wahsing only. Toilet wash hand basins are not considered adequate.


Pets and Pests

If you own a pet within your domestic household, it is essential that they are not allowed within the kitchen and food storage areas, when food is being prepared, handled or cooked. Prior to any food preparation all areas of the kitchen must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.


Pests such as flies, mice etc. carry food poisoning bacteria and can contaminate food and food surfaces that they land on. Therefore, windows and doors in the kitchen and food areas must either be kept closed and an alternative means of ventilation provided, or must be fitted with insect-proof screens, which can easily be removed for cleaning.


Structure

You must ensure that the structure of the kitchen (walls, floors, ceiling) and food storage areas are smooth, easy to clean and disinfect. All equipment which comes into contact with food must be kept in good repair and condition.


Fitness to Work

You must ensure that any food handlers are fit to work. You need to ensure the goverments infection control policy in relation to coronavirsus is followed. For details visit GOV.UK-COVID 19: Guidance for Employees, Employers and Businesses.


Washing up

If you do not have a dishwasher and all food equipment and utensils have to be washed by hand you must ensure equipment and utensils that have been used for raw foods must be washed separately and after any used for ready to eat foods. The sink must then be thoroughly disinfected using a two-stage cleaning process in between uses. (Refer to cleaning section above)


Scourers and cloths used for cleaning equipment that have been in contact with raw meat and chicken should be stored separately, preferably colour coded, and not used for any other job.


Cooking

You must make sure that foods are adequately cooked and reheated. Visual checks can be made, and a representative proportion of cooked/reheated foods should be probed with a suitable thermometer to ensure a core temperature of 75C for 30 seconds is achieved. This is to ensure that any harmful bacteria which may be present in the food has been destroyed.


Cooling

You should cool foods as rapidly as possible. Portioning foods or increasing the surface area will facilitate cooling. You should monitor the time that foods take to cool and ensure that they are not left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.


Allergens

You need to consider the allergens which are contained within your food, how you prepare them and cook them. It is implortant you note down the ingredients and keep labels. More information on allergen labelling can be found on the Food Standards Agency’s website www.food.gov.uk.


Vehicles

Delivery vehicles need to be kept in a clean condition to prevent any contamination. You need to consider that the vehicle is insured for ‘Business’ use.


Training

You must make sure that you are appropriately trained in food hygiene matters. People who handle open high-risk foods are trained to a level equivalent to CIEH or RSPH level 2 in Food Safety in Catering.


Deliveries

You need to consider leaving deliveries at the door of the customer, opposed to handing it to them. You should knock the door, and step back 2 meters and wait for the customer to collect it.


Social Distancing

For anyone visiting your premises to collect food, you should limit the amount of customers who enter the premises so that the 2 meter social distancing can be adhered to. This can be achieved by using floor markers or similar. Orders should be paid for with contactless payments wherever possible.



The Table below is for businesses which are required to register only, as well as following the information above.


Registration

Every food business operator shall cooperate with and notify the appropriate local authority of each establishment under its control with a view to the registration of each them. You should therefore complete a food premises registration form which can be found on your local authorities’ website.


Personal Hygiene

You are advised to provide a designated wash hand basin with adequate supplies of hot and cold, or appropriately mixed, running water, soap and hygienic means of drying hands. Properly connect the wash hand basin to the drainage system and ensure that everyone understands that it is for hand washing only.


Food Safety Management Systems

You must put in place, implement and maintain permanent procedures based on HACCP principles.

There is a pack developed by the Food Standards Agency called Safer Food Better Business for Caterers which can be used to fulfil this requirement. You can download it at www.food.gov.uk.


If you read through and complete this pack, implement the safe methods, complete the “Prove it” records for consistent menu items, train your staff in the pack and complete the training records, ensure that the safe methods are followed, undertake the opening and closing checks daily, maintain the daily diary and complete the 4 weekly reviews, you can fulfil this requirement.


Please note you may be required to develop your own food safety management procedure, dependant on the foods you produce and the nature and size of the business.


If you have any further questions or queries then please feel free to contact us.


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