Ensure all bases are covered

Food safety is crucial at every stage – from storage and prep to serving

FOOD trends may come and go, but good hygiene practices in the kitchen remain paramount – a point which was recently reinforced by a case south of the border in which a restaurant serving food on wooden boards, which were “incapable of being cleaned” according to Birmingham City Council, was fined £50,000 by Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.

It underlines the importance of robust food safety practices and procedures every step of the way, from food storage and preparation areas to the vessels a dish is served in.

Sharon Sime, business development officer at City of Glasgow College, said chefs should ensure a food hygiene system is simple and holds each kitchen member accountable.

“The most important thing the chef can do is set up a food safety system in the workplace that involves all the staff in the team so that everyone has ownership of the system,” she said.

“Staff training is key to making the system work in practice.”

Adding that chefs should involve their local environmental health officer “at a very early stage”, Sime advised creating regular, simple checklists for staff to follow “to ensure compliance”.

Joanne Worral of Twist Training agreed, adding: “If you ensure the [hygiene] checks become part of kitchen life, then no matter how busy it is, they are adhered to and slotted in.”

Nina Walker of Admiral Taverns echoed this view and advised that all kitchen staff should hold a minimum Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate, and those handling raw and ‘high risk’ foods should train and attain the Level 3 certificate.

Glenn Roberts, chair of the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA), said training “should be ongoing – both for new staff and as a refresher for the whole kitchen brigade”.

Another important consideration is allergen control, which Roberts said is of “growing importance”.

“Here manufacturers have developed a wide variety of products that can help protect from cross-contamination, including specially colour-coded food prep equipment such as knives, containers and cutting boards,” he said.

And from the trusty temperature probe to newer ‘connected’ appliances, which can send alerts to smartphones when issues arise, technology can play an important role.

Sime of City of Glasgow College advised operators to “buy the best equipment you can afford; it will last longer in the long run”. “Ensure that all equipment is maintained regularly and that all staff have refresher training in its use,” she said.