Whether you’re running a commercial kitchen or catering business, you’ll know that your hygiene rating is the biggest reflection of the service you provide. Delicious dishes and polite waiting staff are important, but if the food hygiene standards aren’t up to scratch, it can be detrimental to a catering business. This rating shows the care and attention you put into every meal you serve.
If you’ve already bagged a five-star rating, it’s important that you maintain it. To help you keep food hygiene a top priority, here’s a look at what’s assessed during an inspection and what you can do to make sure you’re following the rules.
The importance of good food hygiene
The main reason for focussing on food hygiene is to keep customers safe. Kitchens are perfect breeding grounds for germs and bacteria, so if standards slip, you could see cases of food-related illnesses such as listeria or salmonella.
As well as food poisoning being bad for your customers’ health, it can also be bad for your reputation. Even though it happened back in 2009, the norovirus outbreak at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire is still something that comes to mind when we think of poor food safety standards causing ill health – leaving a lasting legacy that the Michelin-starred chef probably could have done without.
The food hygiene rating system is designed to set a standard that all food outlets must comply with. Anywhere that serves food, from the Michelin-starred eateries like the Fat Duck to the local takeaway, is inspected and given a rating, based on how well they meet the standards. It’s crucial that these standards are met. But what are inspectors looking for? Here’s a look at the steps to take to make sure you get a five-star rating.
Store food properly
Inspectors want to make sure that food is stored correctly. They are looking for signs that food is thoroughly cooked before you store it in the fridge. They’re also checking that you’re making the decision to throw the food away when it can’t be kept cool or warm, or if it’s been in the fridge for a week. When storing anything raw that could be easily exposed to bacteria, such as meat, always cover it with cling film.
You’ll also need to make sure you have a system in place to keep on top of use-by dates. The things to use first should always be at the front of the cupboard or shelf and set aside time to check what’s going out of date.
Get food prep right
Wash your hands before you touch any food. Then you can move on to washing fruit and veg.
To make sure things don’t get contaminated, have separate chopping boards for fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, eggs and poultry. Always wash the boards in warm, soapy water before you use them and wash them between uses too.
Also, by wearing a pair of vinyl disposable gloves during the food prep and cooking processes, you will avoid cross-contamination.
Regularly clean any surfaces touched by food. This applies to preparation surfaces and areas where food is served.
If anything is spilt, clear the area as soon as possible, and all surfaces should be wiped down using robust multi-purpose cleaners during the food prep and cooking stages, and also at the end of the day.
Additionally, a day should be set aside each week for a deep clean. Everything from the floors to the plugholes should be thoroughly cleaned.
You’ll keep hold of your five-star rating if you maintain the highest hygiene standards. Follow these tips to make sure you’re protecting yourself, your customers, and your business.