If you work in the food service industry, food hygiene will be a top business priority. Nothing will send shivers down your spine quite like a visit from the Food Standards Agency, who can cause a lot of problems if they decide your kitchen is not up to standard. There’s various risks involved with the food’s journey from kitchen to customer: from preparation and cooking to serving and clean-up. If you’re a health and safety officer, you’ll constantly have to tailor your approach to each risk. The restaurant environment can be fast-paced and sometimes unforgiving.
As you will know, the four main food hygiene hazards are allergenic, bacterial, chemical and physical. If your staff aren’t trained correctly and the food they are working with becomes contaminated, your customers could end up seriously ill. You constantly have to stay on guard to make sure everyone is safe.
The importance of food safety
In the UK, there are more than a million cases of food poisoning each year. Food hygiene should be the number one concern for restaurant kitchen health and safety officers today. As mentioned, there are four main hygiene hazards linked with food hygiene: allergenic, bacterial, chemical and physical.
It’s important to keep these in mind when looking specifically at how your food is prepared, cooked and served. If storage containers are left open, mould can grow causing the food to expire. Unsure on best practice, staff can also stick the wrong use-by dates on these containers, further complicating things. Cross-contamination is also a big factor to consider, especially if the food products staff are working with contain known allergens such as nuts, gluten or fruit.
When looking at kitchen surfaces and utensils, cross-contamination becomes an even bigger hazard. Clutter on shelves and worktops can increase this risk. If surfaces aren’t cleaned properly, you run the risk of germs spreading onto your food. Staff members come into contact with a variety of surfaces including bins, the toilets and raw foods. Unclean hands are also one of the main ways germs can be spread, as well as dirty cloths and towels where bacteria can easily spread. While serious, the various dangers associated with improper food hygiene can also be quite easy to solve.
How to reduce food safety risks
While spillages can be really common, there are a few tips and tricks you can implement right away that can help make your kitchen a safer working environment:
- Prevent cross contamination – train staff on correct personal hygiene
- Make sure staff properly store food
- Use less harmful cleaning products
- Ensure staff members wash their hands thoroughly
- Wash dishcloths, and make sure they are dried properly
- Make sure your fridges are set to the correct temperature
- Use brightly coloured materials – to draw employees’ attention to potential hazards
- Create visual cues around the kitchen – that highlights any danger
You could also design a comprehensive training manual for staff, and advise them of what the health and safety best practices are. One way to help increase the ‘stickyness’ of your training is to include visual imagery. Although lengthy training sessions and coaching are important, you also want a method that will actually resonate with your employees long after they leave the workplace.
Health and safety cartoons
One visual medium you should consider is cartoons. These work tremendously well, especially if they convey the information in a humorous way. I have designed a cartoon that highlights the many common restaurant healthy and safety risks, which is also light hearted and fun. You can find out more details about this cartoon here. I also offer a bespoke service, so if you have something else in mind or would like custom work done please contact me here and we can discuss.
Call Richard on +44 1246 209034 or email