The Importance Of Food Hygiene Training
Whether you are setting up a catering business for yourself or want a job working in a restaurant, bar or café, it is important to embark on food hygiene training courses.
Here are just some reasons why brushing up on your knowledge of food hygiene would not only reduce the chance of contamination, but also improve your career prospects.
– Training is necessary
According to the Food Standards Agency, catering businesses have to make sure anyone working with food has the appropriate supervision and training in food hygiene, so they can handle produce in the safest way possible.
However, it is not a requirement for food handlers to have a food hygiene certificate to prepare or sell food.
Those working in these establishments can either receive training on the job, by enrolling on a course themselves, or through relevant previous experience.
– Prevents cross-contamination
The main reason to learn basic food hygiene rules is to reduce the chance of cross-contamination. Germs and bacteria can easily be spread in a kitchen, such as from food to work surfaces, people’s hands or utensils, and then on to food that is ready to serve.
If bacteria, viruses and parasites on this food are then consumed, it can lead to food poisoning. Gastroenteritis is not only uncomfortable, it can lead to dehydration and be extremely dangerous, especially to vulnerable groups. Babies, small children, pregnant women, the elderly, or those whose immune systems are suppressed, such as cancer patients or HIV sufferers, are particularly at risk of food poisoning, and it can have a dangerous impact on their health.
Therefore, understanding the Four Cs – cleaning, cooking, chilling and cross-contamination – goes a long way in preventing germs from being produced and spread to consumers.
As there is no obvious way to tell if food is contaminated, food handlers have to rely on their knowledge of how produce should be cooked and stored, and how the kitchen should be cleaned to understand whether the meal might contain nasty germs.
– Improves reputation of business
No food establishment wants their customers to go home poorly. As well as caring for their consumers, they will also want to avoid gaining a bad reputation.
If word begins to spread that their kitchen is unhygienic or their staff cannot prepare food in a safe way, they will quickly lose customers, as people will be put off from eating there.
Therefore, it is in the business’ interests to ensure their workforce is trained in food hygiene. This will help reduce the chance of bacteria growing or spreading, helping to keep consumers as safe as possible.
Those who have already embarked on a food hygiene course could, therefore, be more employable to restaurants and cafes than those who have not. This is because they already have a solid understanding of the importance of personal hygiene, cleaning and sanitising, food storage, temperature control and food handling.
As a third of food poisoning cases are spread through a lack of hand-washing alone, these basics are crucial for customer safety.
– Prevent workplace sickness
In addition to keeping patrons safe and free from germs, food businesses will want to ensure their staff are as healthy as possible. Having employees call in sick frequently because they have developed food poisoning or allergic reactions through cross-contamination of certain foods puts a strain on the company.
Indeed, it would mean they have to find a temporary replacement for that member of staff, costing them money. It would also waste a considerable amount of time and cause them a lot of upheaval in having to rearrange shifts, as opposed to maintaining a healthy workforce.
Therefore, bosses should be seen to encourage and preserve high food hygiene standards themselves to develop a positive culture. This will prevent complacency setting in and make it clear to all members of staff that certain benchmarks need to be upheld.
– Proper storage reduces food waste
All businesses want to reduce their expenses, and cutting down on waste is one way to do this. If food establishments store food incorrectly, such as at wrong temperatures, in unsuitable containers, or in the incorrect places, they risk having to get rid of it.
Indeed, these could cause produce to spoil more quickly or spread germs, which would mean they could no longer be consumed.
For instance, dried foods need to be stored separately from liquids. As wet produce attracts mould more easily, storing these close together could cause bacteria to grow on the dry food, resulting in gastroenteritis among those who consume it.
In addition to this, fridges need to be kept at 5C or below, while freezer temperatures need to be lower than -18C to ensure bacteria will not multiply.
Bupa also recommends defrosting frozen foods in the fridge in a separate container to ensure they do not drip on to other foods. Canned foods need to be transferred to an airtight container once opened, as the tin could transfer to its contents. Leftovers should only be kept for two days, and need to be cooled to room temperature for no more than two hours before they are put in the fridge. Rice should be consumed within one day of cooking as well.
When it comes to storing food in the fridge, vegetables, salads, herbs and fruit should be stored in their original packaging in the salad drawer. Raw meat and fish should be wrapped and kept on the bottom shelf, as this is the coldest part of the fridge. Additionally, this prevents any blood from the meat or fish from leaking on to other produce.
Foods that do not require cooking, such as leftovers, cured or cooked meats, eggs and condiments can be kept on the top shelves, as this is the warmest part of the fridge. Dairy produce can be stored on the lower or middle shelves, separating the raw and cooked foods from each other.
By adopting good storage techniques, you will cut down on the amount of food wasted, reducing your expenses and improving the cost-efficiency of the business.