As the owner of a successful catering establishment, who offers its customers a wide range of dishes made from a variety of ingredients you have the responsibility to ensure that all food served is safe to eat.
At the beginning of 2006 the regulations regarding how you produce food safely changed. The new regulations require food operators to assess the dangers to food safety (referred to as hazards) at each stage the food is handled in their kitchen and to put in place procedures to remove or control the hazards.
This pack aims to help you meet the requirements of these new regulations.
It has been developed by Food Safety Team for use by larger catering establishments such as restaurants, hotels and take-aways, who would be expected to have a full written and documented food safety (HACCP) system in place.
Using the pack will help you –
The owner and manager of the business should work together to make sure the pack is used correctly and effectively. As the tasks are completed complete the progress record at the beginning of the pack. This will give you a clearer idea of how well you are progressing.
Most kitchens share a number of basic preparation and cooking stages and will need to control similar food safety hazards. For this reason, a number of control steps will be common to many establishments. The key objective of the pack is therefore to provide you with a table of the most common hazards encountered and the most effective control measures. This table (to be found in section 3) is the key to building your HACCP system. You must however make sure you have assessed all the ingredients and processes in your kitchen in case you have unique and special recipes.
How to Build a Food Safety System?
There are two basic stages to go through to implement a food safety system.
Establish Good Hygiene Practices:
In order to build a good foundation for your food safety system it is important to establish sound basic food hygiene routines, which your staff understand well and follow automatically.
These good practices are included in the General Hygiene Requirements for all food business operators.
These good practices are also to be found in the separate Good Hygiene Practices Manual which includes the following –
The GHP manual contains guidance on each good practice and gives examples of the type of records you need to keep in each section to show that correct methods of working have been followed and that certain routines are well established.
Ensure that your staff are trained and motivated to understand the importance of maintaining these routines. Where appropriate issue written instructions for them to follow.
When your staff can be relied upon to follow these good hygiene practices then you will find that many of the common hazards (especially physical and chemical hazards) in your kitchen will be adequately controlled.
Implement A Food Safety or Haccp System:
Having established general good hygiene practices and routines it is important to move on to put in place a HACCP system specific to process stage in your kitchen.
By following the steps below, you should be able to identify control and monitor hazards, which could lead to food poisoning or make the food unfit to eat.
Steps In Building a HACCP System:
Categorize Your Ingredients and Dishes
Begin by listing the types of menu dishes you prepare based on the main ingredient used to make the dish and the processes undertaken.
A suggested list is included in this section. Ingredients are grouped according to the food safety risk they present and the processes they undergo – e.g whether eaten raw, cooked, chilled frozen and reheated etc.
Having listed all the types of dishes, you may find that in order to identify the hazards involved in their preparation it helps to compile a flow chart showing the various stages in sequence.
How to Construct A Flow Chart For Each Group Of Dishes
In order to help you identify hazards at each stage you may find it useful to list all the steps involved (known as process steps) and perhaps draw a flow diagram or chart.
It is important that you think carefully about what happens in your kitchen. If you are the manager or owner of the business, you should therefore ask your chef/cook to work with you to identify the steps.
Some foods such as sandwiches and salads will be prepared with no cooking needed, others will undergo a cooking stage. Some will be served immediately, some will be defrosted, others will be stored and held chilled or hot. Be sure to include all such stages in your diagram.
It is likely that your flow chart for each group will consist of all or some of the following stages –
The hazards encountered in ordering, purchasing and receiving materials will be controlled by following the procedures outlined in your GHP manual for supplier controls, stock rotation, traceability and pest control.
Therefore, your flow charts and hazard analysis will only need to start at the storage stage.
How to Carry Out A HACCP Analysis
Now that you have identified all the groups of dishes and stages or process steps which take place in your kitchen it is time to consider what can go wrong at each stage and what you must do to prevent or minimise the risk of making your food unsafe.
To help identify what can go wrong at each stage, it is probably useful consider the type of hazards one is likely to encounter in a kitchen and what can make food unsafe to eat.
Type of Hazards
Hazards can generally be divided into three major types (although increasingly allergens are also becoming of more significance as potential hazards and are therefore also included in this section) –
Food which contains harmful or pathogenic bacteria when eaten can make people ill. The number of bacteria required to make people ill depends on the type of bacteria. Some bacteria are also more difficult to kill than others and spread more easily. This is why some bacteria such as E Coli 0157 are more dangerous and why some bacteria such as Salmonella can survive in the body for a long time after the symptoms have disappeared.
There are a number of steps that can be taken to help make sure foods do not contain such bacteria. These are mostly aimed at making sure that the food we buy is of good quality and then preventing bacteria getting into the food and growing.
This means we must stop ‘clean’ food getting in contact with –
Contamination – All the practices we adopt to prevent bacteria entering food are said to prevent contamination and some of the most effective ways to prevent contamination is to keep the food covered wherever possible, make sure all surfaces and hands are clean when food is handled and most importantly stop cooked food coming into contact directly or indirectly with raw food.
Growth – Foods are most dangerous when any bacteria present have been given the opportunity to multiply and increase in numbers. To multiply most bacteria, require water, food and warm temperatures. This is why keeping food at the correct temperatures in the fridge or freezer helps to prevent bacterial growth and keeps the food more safely.
Survival – Although bacteria grow best at warm temperatures, if exposed to high temperatures for long enough most but not all will be killed. Be aware that some bacteria can go into a spore stage, which will survive cooking temperatures. Given time these will grow to dangerous levels when the food is cooled. This is why it is important to cool food in four hours or less.
These include any foreign material, which you would not expect to find in your food. Hair, finger nails, pieces of wood, metal, plastic, glass and insect debris are examples of what can find their way into food if the kitchen is not kept clean and tidy and if worn utensils and equipment are not replaced.
If chemicals used in the kitchen find their way into your food then not only will they taste unpleasant but the chemicals may also be dangerous. Examples of chemicals, which could find their way into food are cleaning chemicals, lubricants used to oil parts of your equipment.
It is important to note that foods especially high fat foods can sometimes pick up unpleasant tastes if they have been stored next to chemicals either in your store area, fridge or even when delivered next to chemicals in a van.
It is important for all caterers to be aware of food allergies and take the matter seriously. This is because when someone eats a food, to which they are allergic, it can cause a very severe reaction and even kill the person. This reaction is known as anaphylaxis.
It is therefore essential that when someone asks you whether a dish contains a certain allergen that you give the correct answer. You can only do this if you know exactly what the ingredients contain when you buy them and then make sure they do not become contaminated with known allergens.
Severe allergic reactions are most commonly caused by the following foods –
These are the ingredients, whose presence must be clearly labelled when you buy pre-packed food. It also important that as a caterer you alert your customers to the presence of any above of the allergens when their presence may not be obvious e.g., unrefined nut oils can be used in salad dressings, cakes can contain praline or marzipan, sauces can contain milk, flour or soya, some Greek dishes can contain sesame seeds.
Although there is no legal requirement to include allergens when assessing hazards, we do recommend that you do develop procedures to enable you to answer customer queries accurately. We have therefore included a section on allergens in the Good Hygiene Practices Manual.
Once you have identified the hazards at each stage, the next stage is to decide whether the hazards need to be controlled at this step and how you are going to do this.
Most physical and chemical hazards can be controlled by following Good Hygiene Practices and therefore most attention should be given to controlling microbiological hazards in your kitchen. This is best done by preventing bacteria
Therefore, the two most important controls you must implement effectively are those aimed at reducing cross-contamination risks and those aimed at preventing bacterial growth and survival.
It is therefore essential that you ask three fundamental questions at each stage (see basic questions on next page) –
If the answer is yes then the stage becomes what is known as a critical control point and cross-contamination and time and temperature controls need to be introduced.
Monitoring Checks and Records:
In order to prove that you have hazards under control it is necessary to carry out certain checks and sometime record those checks. This is sometimes referred to as monitoring the hazards. Checks need to be thorough if you are to know that you are producing food safely.
Most checks need to be carried out daily, some may be best carried out before your kitchen starts to operate, some whilst your kitchen is active, and some at the end of the working day. Other checks can only be carried out when a process is carried out such as reheating or an event takes place such as a delivery arrives.
In addition to daily checks you as manager or proprietor should carry out a second independent check on a regular basis to ensure your controls are working effectively.
The way you record the checks should suit you and your staff. For instance, it may not be practical to record the temperature every time you probe food. Instead decide on a frequency of recording checks that suits you. What is essential is that you record what actions you take when things go wrong, therefore if you decide to reduce the number of recorded checks it is recommended that you also establish a food safety diary or log book.
Although the food hygiene regulations do not specify what checks and how frequently they should be carried out or recorded, it is important that you as the person responsible for food safety have sufficient confidence in your system. For example, in order to be assured that your system is working well you may decide to carry out an independent audit once a week, on the other hand if you have confidence in your staff this could be reduced to a monthly check.
HACCP Analysis Plans:
The hazards you identify, the controls you put in place and the actions you need to take should things go wrong need to be recorded and communicated to your staff in the kitchen. The best way of doing this is to compile a HACCP analysis for each category of dish offered on your menu. This can then be used to train the food handlers in your kitchen to make sure they understand your HACCP procedures.
To help you complete the HACCP analysis charts for your menu we have included –
For more information, please Chat with us Ask The Expert.
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