Preparing for a Food Standards Health Rating Inspection
The Food Standards Agency's Hygiene Ratings Scheme has now been adopted by most local authorities. This brings increased public awareness of your hygiene rating. With excess of 300000 food service businesses displaying their food hygiene rating in their premises there is increased potential for a health inspection to make or break the future of your business. So, whilst it may be tempting to overlook a few minor health violations in the hopes that inspectors will not visit today, the best practice is to treat every day as the day an inspector will show up. The ideal way to prepare for an inspection is by performing a routine self-inspection every week.
3 ways you can start now:
Have and use the same tools the Inspector-Ex use. Some common tools inspectors carry include a flashlight, clipboard, alcohol wipes, chemical test strips, inspection forms and a meat thermometer. (In the case of industrial manufacturing, that list may be longer.) Create your own inspection kit and use it.
Everything in your kit should be kept organized and in working order. When it comes to thermometers, it's important to keep them clean, calibrated and readily available. Wipe the probes clean after each use, keep the housing clean by wiping away any grease or grime and calibrate (if needed) once a week with an ice bath.
During an inspection, health officials will often ask employees questions about the task they are currently performing. In the case of a chef, inspectors will ask about recommended minimum internal temperatures. This may include the recommended temperatures for chicken, fish, beef and ground meats.
Ask any staff task oriented and safety questions throughout the week. This will keep the knowledge fresh in their minds and help gauge if your training techniques are effective. Making available recommended temperature charts is also a great way to ensure that your staff are ready for temperature questions.
A good inspector will ask for employee illness, hand washing, training, temperature and HACCP records to ensure that you are monitoring safety practices properly . Taking time to check these records yourself keeps them in order and on-hand for when the inspector arrives.
Having plenty of thermometers is crucial. When the time comes to record temperatures, you won't want your employees scrambling to find one. It's always a good idea to have at least 10 thermometers on hand. One in every chef's jacket, a few for the prep area and one to keep in the office. The more thermometers you have, the better able you'll be to ensure that temperatures are being taken.
There's no crystal ball that will tell you when an inspector is going to show up. You must always be ready. If you create an atmosphere that breeds health and safety, there's no doubt - when the time comes - you'll be prepared to pass and get thar 5 star rating to display on your door!
Colour Coding For
Biological contamination is by far the most frequent cause of food contamination in Europe, accounting for millions of food related illnesses per year. The presence of harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses can turn an otherwise delicious meal into a potentially life-threatening experience.
One of the most common ways this contamination occurs is through cross-contamination - the transfer of harmful bacteria from one food product to another by way of dirty utensils, including cutting boards, knives and thermometers. Since most bacteria are killed during the cooking process, at temperatures in excess of 75°C), the risk of cross contamination is highest when bacteria from food items that need to be cooked come in contact with foods that don't.
Eliminating cross contamination requires good food safety habits such as frequent washing of hands, utensils and work surfaces. Many professional kitchens also colour code tools that are used for different foods, such as raw poultry or fresh vegetables, so cross contamination is less likely to occur.
Tips and advice
While many kitchen tools are colour coded, the vast majority are not - including many food thermometers. However, at ETI we have made many coloured products and covers to choose from, including those found on the colour code food safety chart, and is perfect for keeping bacteria from cross-contamination at bay.
In busy kitchens, colour coding can be easy to forget, so it's a good idea to display a wall chart for employees to quickly refer to at any time. Here at ETI we sell equipment that comes in food safety colours.
Clear colour codes can help staff maintain a high food safety standard that will keep customers safe and coming back for more. This is especially important in an industry where employee turnover rates are so high. A simple colour code system means new hires can plug into a team quickly without managers having to worry about food safety compromises. Colour coding the food preparation process will help make a kitchen run more efficiently and safely.
White is used for bakery items, such as pastries, as well as any dairy products. Do note that eggs should be prepared separately to avoid the risk of salmonella bacteria spreading.
Yellow is for any cooked meats. Note that cooked meat and raw meat should always be kept separate. Cooked meats should also always be stored above raw meat in a fridge.
Green is used for fruit and salad.
Brown coloured items should be used when you are preparing vegetables.
Red should be used for raw meat items, such as uncooked steaks. It is essential that any surfaces are cleaned thoroughly after preparing raw meat items.
Blue is used for raw fish. It is vital that raw fish is kept away from raw meat, as fish is a common allergen.
HACCP - What It Is and What Does It mean?
HACCP stand for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. It is used to describe an internationally recognised means of managing food safety and protecting consumers. It is a requirement of EU food hygiene legislation that applies to all food business operators except farmers and growers.
EU Regulation 852/2004 (Article 5) requires food related businesses to implement and maintain hygiene procedures based on HACCP principles. This legislation replaced the Meat (HACCP) Regulations 2002.
The HACCP regulations are internationally accepted as the system of choice for food safety management. It is a preventative approach to food safety based on the following seven principles:
Making Your HACCP Plan Paperless
Integrating a new digital system into your business might seem like it will be challenging and time-consuming, but it's actually very straightforward. Once you are set up, your daily checks couldn't be simpler.
There are a number of benefits to digitising your temperature recordings:
There are three different types of thermometers you can use to make your temperatures digital:
Bluetooth thermometers pair with your device using Bluetooth connectivity. Simply take your temperature, and at the touch of a button, it will transmit the reading to your device, where it can be viewed, stored and downloaded using our free software. Our Bluetooth thermometers include food probes, infrared devices and a dishwashing thermometer for recording plate cleaning temperatures.
Data loggers automatically take readings at programmed intervals. The readings are stored within the instrument and can then be transferred to your PC using a USB connector. These are most commonly used for ambient readings, such as fridge/freezer temperatures and room temperature or humidity. But they can also be used to track the internal temperature of perishables over a period of time, such as during transportation. Once connected to your computer, the data can be analysed, shared and printed using our free software.
Like USB data loggers, Wi-Fi loggers take readings at programmed intervals. But instead of needing to connect to a computer to download the readings, they are automatically transmitted using Wi-Fi. The benefit of this is that users can monitor the results in real time, even receiving email alerts for out-of-range readings. This provides the highest level of security where temperatures are critical, enabling corrective actions to be taken instantly and preventing costly damages.
Why Choose an Infrared Thermometer?
Infrared thermometers are ideal for taking surface temperature measurements from a distance. They provide relatively accurate temperatures without ever having to touch the object you're measuring. However they are not a good choice for measuring the internal temperature of an object.
Infrared thermometers are very fast, typically giving a reading in a fraction of a second, or the time it takes for the thermometer's processor to perform its calculations. Their speed and relative ease of use have made infrared thermometers invaluable public safety tools in the food service industry, manufacturing, HVAC, asphalt & concrete, labs and countless other industrial applications.
Choose an infrared thermometer when it's impractical to insert a probe into the item being measured, or if the surface is just out of reach and a surface probe will not do the job. You might need an infrared thermometer to measure objects that are:
Infrared Thermometers and Food Service Applications
Food borne bacteria usually land on the surface of foods so infrared thermometers can be useful for checking the holding temperatures of plated foods, serving areas, buffets and warming trays.
But infrared thermometers are not very effective at measuring how well cooked food is. Critical food safety temperatures, like 5 °C and 60 °C, should always be verified with an internal probe.
There are three ETI infrared thermometers ideal for food service applications. The RayTemp 8 and RayTemp 38 come with attachable type K probes, whilst The Thermapen IR thermometer has an integral foldaway probe to enable internal temperature measurements to be taken.
If using an infrared thermometer with liquids like soups and sauces, pull a ladle full of liquid up from the bottom of the pot before taking a measurement to more closely approximate the internal temperature. To measure semi-solids like stuffing, corn or mashed potatoes, insert a spoon into the center of the material, pulling it back to create a void and point your infrared thermometer into the void.
Lastly, be aware that steam, even when a liquid is not boiling, can condense on your thermometer and affect the accuracy of your measurements.
Infrared thermometers used to measure temperatures inside a refrigerator or freezer unit should typically be stored inside the fridge or freezer so they are ready to start taking measurements when you need them. To measure the contents of frozen pallets, be sure to break open the pallet, remove at least one box and point your thermometer at the top of one of the center boxes to be sure your reading reflects the temperature of the frozen material inside the pallet and not just the surfaces that are exposed to warmer air.
What Is pH and Why Should You Maintain the Correct Levels?
pH is a measurement of how acidic or alkaline a solution is. It is measured in numbers; the lower the number, the more acidic the solution. The higher the number, the more alkaline the solution.
The impact of incorrect pH levels can vary from application to application. For example, plants absorb nutrients within a certain pH range, so an incorrect level may affect the rate of growth and fruit yield. When brewing, an incorrect pH level can produce a poor quality taste and affect shelf life. At the other end of the pH scale, a fruit juice producer will have to control pH to avoid poor quality and the risk of causing health issues if the pH drops too low. An incorrect pH level within the pharmaceutical industry could result in producing undesirable toxins. Consistent and precise measurement of pH is fundamental in achieving the result you require.
Maintaining your pH meter
If you don't look after your pH meter then incorrect measurements of pH levels may occur.