Understand your responsibilities for a food safety management system
Your food safety management system is crucial in preventing the dangers of cross-contamination and food poisoning. Basic food hygiene standards have to be followed properly throughout the manufacturing stage to right down to stocking the products on the shelves.
For this reason, there are significant legal obligations for anyone who manufactures or supplies food, and they have a duty to be aware of the laws around food hygiene. This isn’t just an organisational policy commitment: it’s the law, and it’s vital that these high standards are maintained by every individual staff member in the food production industry, this can be a daunting prospect for even the most well-organised employers.
To reduce risk of food poisoning, and protect your reputation, it must be a priority to control harmful bacteria and reduce the risk of cross-contamination through cleaning, chilling and cooking food correctly.
Food safety management systems are essential for reducing the likelihood of cross-contamination.
Cross-contamination occurs when different bacterias are spread around between foods, surfaces or equipment that come into contact with one another. This includes handling by staff, use of cutting equipment and work-surfaces, as well as when raw food touches ready-to-eat food.
It remains one of the most common causes of food poisoning, and demands the highest standards to prevent it. However it’s easy enough to prevent if these straightforward rules are followed:
- Keep all work-surfaces clean and disinfected, before and after you prepare food.
- Always use different equipment for raw meat, and ready-to-eat or cooked foods. If that’s not possible, ensure all equipment is thoroughly disinfected between uses.
- Make sure your hands are washed thoroughly before preparing food, and wash them again after touching raw meat.
- Always keep raw and ready-to-eat food stored separately.
- If you have to store them together in the same fridge, keep raw food below ready-to-eat food to prevent contamination from dripping juices.
- Keep raw and ready-to-eat food completely separate with different working areas, different fridges and storage facilities, separate machinery and equipment, and different clothes for operatives if you can.
- Make sure all staff are trained in the risks of cross-contamination and how best to avoid it.
Continuous and thorough cleaning is the most powerful way of stopping cross-contamination of food, so ensure all staff wash their hands carefully before and after handling food.
Make sure staff clean and clear as they go. This means disinfecting surfaces between uses and cleaning up spillages as soon as they happen. Spilled juices breed bacteria very quickly, so it’s important that food stays in the working area for the shortest time possible.
It’s important to always use the correct cleaning products for the situation, and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Control temperature for cooked & chilled food
After preparing food, it’s important to pay attention to the way it’s stored. Pay particular regard to chilling food, ensuring that it’s always kept cold enough and that its time outside refrigerated areas is kept to a minimum.
When cooking, always ensure the item is cooked through properly. This is particularly important with poultry and pork, as well as manufactured meat products such as sausages, burgers and rolled joints. Such foods must be steaming hot all the way through, as bacteria can get trapped deep inside during preparation, and they must never be served rare.
Use BRC certified packaging
When you’ve taken food hygiene so seriously through the production process, it’s only right that you take it seriously at the storage and transportation stages of the supply chain as well. This means obtaining the most suitable packaging materials for onward usage.
There are a wide range of packing products available on the market for use as part of your food safety management system, among them food-grade polythene packaging. This is manufactured according to BRC standards and identified by the blue-tint of the film, marking it out as suitable for use in food environments. Such films can be used throughout production, storage and distribution, and can also be manufactured to specifications suitable for use on fully automated production lines.