The Food Standards Agency have announced that 19th – 25th June 2017 marks Safe Summer Eating Week, the start of a campaign designed to raise awareness of good food hygiene at home during the summer months and will focus on areas such as effective chilling (fridge temperature and defrosting) and the thorough cooking of mince products.
Whilst the focus of this campaign is on good practices to be observed in domestic settings such as picnics and barbeques, it is a good reminder to businesses to check the effectiveness of their own food safety controls as temperatures rise, especially if they are arranging any outdoor functions.
With one million cases of food poisoning reported every year, and E-Coli, Listeria and Salmonella more prevalent in the warmer months (Food Standards Agency, 2017), awareness of good food safety practices is essential to prevent illnesses, especially in food businesses where legal requirements regarding the prevention of the production or sale of unsafe, injurious or unfit food and food poisoning apply.
How may the risk increase during summer months? Consider just a few examples.
- As wedding season approaches will your catering business be providing a greater number of buffets or barbeques than usual?
- As a restaurant, bar or cafe will you provide an al fresco dining option?
- Will your non-food business arrange a staff picnic or barbeque?
Factors such as an increase in workload and changes to usual working practices involved in the above examples can lead to food safety hazards such as large quantities of high-risk food on display at ambient temperatures, fridges and freezers being filled over capacity, foods not being segregated properly during storage, preparation and service, inadequate personal hygiene practices due to less facilities being available and an increased number of food pests such as flies.
Reducing the Risks
As just one example of controlling the risks during the summer months, cold temperatures slow the growth of bacteria which cause illness, ambient temperatures encourage their multiplication. Some examples of chilling and defrosting controls which may need to be reviewed include:
- Fridge temperature: this should be below 5ᴑ Factors such as placing hot foods straight into the fridge, leaving doors open and overloading the fridge can all cause the temperature to increase
- Defrosting meat or meat products: these should be defrosted either in the fridge or in a microwaveon a defrost setting and not left out for long periods at room temperature
- Avoid undercooking: this is a common problem at barbeques, it can be hard to gauge the temperature of a barbeque. Try to ensure you order meats and other products which are of a similar size, weight and density so that you can validate your cooking times and temperature
s will be suitable for all the food you barbeque
- Cooling cooked food: if it is not to be used straight away, food that has been cooked can be cooled at room temperature, but must be stored in the fridge within 2 hours
- Suitable preparation: preparing ready to eat food too far in advance can lead to food being held at ambient temperatures for too long, as can over-supply of food at outdoor events
- Segregation: raw and ready to eat foods should be kept apart to prevent cross contamination and don’t forget the allergen controls and labelling!
As part of their food safety management system, a business ensuring food handlers are trained in food hygiene matters commensurate with their work activity is a legal requirement, but will also significantly reduce the risk of people suffering food poisoning and other food safety hazards such as allergic reactions.
2017 marks 20 years of HSF Training Ltd assisting businesses to meet their legal obligations by offering engaging, relevant and informative training and bespoke consultancy. To celebrate we have a Super Summer Sale on some of our most popular courses throughout August, including the Level 2 Award in Food Safety and the newly released Level 2 Award in Food Allergen Awareness and Control in Catering, details of which are below. We offer a wide variety of compliance training with various delivery options such as in-house, distance and e-learning courses. Please contact us to discuss your training needs.
HSF Training Ltd’s 20-year anniversary Super Summer Sale
Level 2 Award in Food Safety £35 + VAT per person (usually £75)
Level 2 Award in Food Allergen Awareness and Control in Catering £35 + VAT per person