Food Hygiene Standards - Identifying & Minimising The Risks

Thousands of people fall ill in the UK every year due to food-related illness. The bacteria and contaminants which lead to these illnesses can breed in any food-prep location and should be prevented at all costs by kitchen staff as for some, especially the young, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, food-related illness can prove fatal.

We are all familiar with salmonella and E. coli, however it is campylobacter which is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK. Approximately four out of five cases of campylobacter food poisoning in Britain come from contaminated poultry which is routinely prepared in commercial kitchens and those of schools, hospitals and care homes across the country.

 

Identifying risk

With already vulnerable patients at risk, hospital staff are expected to demonstrate the highest standards of food hygiene. NHS trusts and hospitals host Food Hygiene Certificate courses for all members of staff involved in preparing food to drastically limit the likelihood of food poisoning as a result of the improper handling of ingredients and meals. All hospital kitchens, food-prep areas and wash-up spaces must be managed in order to eradicate the ten main risk factors for food poisoning, which are:

  1. Cross-contamination between raw and cooked food
  2. Food prepared too far in advance and not refrigerated
  3. Storing hot food below 63°C.
  4. Food not being reheated at a temperature high enough to destroy harmful bacteria
  5. The use of cooked food contaminated with food poisoning bacteria
  6. Undercooked food
  7. Frozen poultry not being properly thawed
  8. Cooling food too slowly before refrigeration
  9. Infection from food handlers
  10. Using leftovers

 

Housekeeping

High standards of housekeeping are essential to maintain exceptionally clean workspaces, reducing the risk of food contamination. Refuse and food waste must be disposed of quickly and not left to sit for periods of time on top of work surfaces or in plugholes. Sink-fitting waste disposal units can eliminate the accumulation of unused food waste in kitchens. Regulations require all waste bins to be fitted with lids to reduce contamination and so as not to attract pests or vermin.

 

Personal hygiene

Impeccable hygiene standards are crucial for all hospital staff and many measures are taken in clinical settings to avoid contamination of the meals prepared for patients. Hand sanitisation is imperative when entering the kitchen, moving between raw and cooked foods, after coughing or sneezing and after handling cleaning products or waste. To aide this, professional-grade disinfectant soaps and gels from sensor/touchless dispensers are never much more than an arm-stretch away to facilitate quick and easy, yet thorough, hand washing.

 

The Food Standards Agency is the UK’s regulatory body for food hygiene. They lay out the standards required and provide guidelines for all businesses which prepare food for public consumption. To find out more about these regulations and to understand the professional equipment needed to meet them, in clinical or commercial settings, visit www.food.gov.uk.

 

References:

Health and Safety Executive
www.hse.gov.uk

NHS Borders
www.nhsborders.scot.nhs.uk

NHS Inform
www.nhsinform.scot

NHS Choices
www.nhs.uk

The Food Standards Agency
www.food.gov.uk

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