Stringent food safety standards and strict hygiene regulations are put in place to ensure that the food prepared and sold in the hospitality and catering industry are safe for consumption. Health and safety standards are essential, and hotels, restaurants, and catering outlets must enforce strict guidelines to pass the food and hygiene inspection.
So, here are five tips to help food venues pass the dreaded food hygiene inspection.
1. Keep a Clean Premises
Food venues of all sorts must keep their premises clean at all times. Authorized inspection officers will visit your place to check if your business complies with food laws and is producing clean food that’s safe to eat. Aside from closely inspecting your premises, they will check how you prepare the food, manage food safety, and the different types of food you produce.
The inspectors will also check the kitchen’s overall physical structure and ensure they are of suitable condition and that the floors, ceilings, and walls are smooth and easily cleanable. In addition, the windows, doors, and ceilings must be weatherproof to prevent dust and pests from entering the kitchen. Seal the gaps on the doors and walls, as it’s essential for maintaining a clean environment for cooking.
Ensure that the area for washing plates is thoroughly cleaned and in proper order. If possible, use a commercial dishwashing machine. There should be two separate basins for washing and rinsing. Most importantly, ensure a constant and regular flow of hot water in your kitchen.
2. Have a Good System
Food venues must have a proper food safety management system in place. It’s not only a legal requirement but an effective tool to ensure that safe practices are adhered to in the business. A food safety management system is a systematic approach of controlling food hazards in the catering business to help ensure that food is safe for consumption.
All food industry businesses must implement and maintain a proper food safety management system according to the principles of HACCP or the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. It’s an international method of ensuring that food is safe to eat. The system requires identifying potential food hazards and figuring out what to do to eliminate these hazards or sufficiently control them.
You or your staff should have sufficient training or knowledge about hygiene matters to create a suitable food safety management system. The system you need to implement will depend upon the size and the type of business that you have. Large-scale food companies and manufacturers require detailed written processes and highly trained people to create them, although small caterers may only need to implement a simple system.
3. Know your Food Hygiene Laws
Food hygiene laws are put in place to prevent food poisoning, spoilage, contamination, allergic reactions, pest infestations, loss of productivity, or worse, closure of the catering business after inspection authorities detect some violations. Therefore, you must be aware of the local food hygiene laws to avoid these issues.
For instance, for those in New York, the Department of Health’s Bureau of Community Environmental Health and Food Protection has implemented some laws to protect the health and safety of the public.
These laws ensure that food service establishments work in a manner that eliminates hazards through proper design and management. In addition, the Bureau’s Food Protection Program conducts investigations on the foodborne outbreak, analyses the findings, and creates regulations based on the information gathered. To keep up with these laws and regulations, several food safety courses and training are available to help you remain compliant.
In addition, the Food Protection Program offers guidance and assistance to the city and county health departments responsible for inspecting food service establishments, including catering businesses. Remember that the costs associated with poor food safety affect both social and financial and may also negatively impact employers and employees. Therefore, ensure that you and everyone in your company are familiar with the food hygiene laws.
4. Make Sure your Food is Stored Properly
Knowing the basics of proper food storage is essential in the catering business. It minimizes food waste and ensures optimum food preservation. The goal is to keep your customers from getting sick from the harmful microorganisms of contaminated food.
Choosing the proper storage containers and implementing the correct storage methods can help extend the life and freshness of the food. Food safety is essential in catering, and improper food handling, preparation, and storage are often the major causes of food-borne illnesses. Therefore, food venues must implement proper storage systems.
Rotating stock is crucial in food catering. Implementing the FIFO (first in, first out method) ensures that the ingredients closest to the “use by date” will be consumed before it gets bad.
Such a simple but effective procedure prevents old food from getting left off on the back shelves or at the bottom of the freezers. It also helps to minimize food wastage since you will use everything before it goes bad.
Food labeling is another essential aspect of proper food storage. Make sure your kitchen staff knows which is which by labeling your stock the moment they arrive.
5. Are you Handling Food Properly?
Your staff should know proper food handling to ensure you pass the dreaded food hygiene inspection. When it comes to this, you must implement four steps – clean, separate, cook, and chill.
Cleaning involves washing the hands and the surfaces that get into contact with food. The microorganisms that can trigger food poisoning can thrive in various places and spread around the kitchen.
Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before, during and after food preparation. The next step is to separate the ingredients and avoid cross-contaminating. Raw meat can contaminate ready-to-eat food unless you separate them.
Ensure you cook food at the right temperature to kill germs that could make people sick. If possible, use a thermometer to check that the food is at a safe internal temperature. Finally, make sure you refrigerate food promptly. Bacteria can multiply fast if left at room temperature. Pack warm or hot food in clean containers before putting them in the fridge.