Food Hygiene is a set of practices that are necessary to ensure health and prevent risk from disease and contamination. During the festive period, with parties happening here there and everywhere for Christmas and New Year, food hygiene standards can sometimes slip because there are a million and one things to do and not enough hours in the day to remember every little detail! But keeping organised and on top of food hygiene is really important to keep those nasty bugs away, and stop Mr E-coli and his friends from ruining the party atmosphere.
As caterers, we really value food safety and hygiene in order to keep our customers and their guests safe and well. We go the extra mile to ensure food hygiene, for example, we wash each piece of cutlery in reverse osmosis water, which is a water purification system that removes more bacteria resulting in an extremely effective clean. However, food hygiene doesn’t have to be that technical, and there are other steps that we take, and that you can take at home, to keep you and your guests just that little bit safer.
- Prepare yourself first. Before preparing food, prepare yourself. Take off any rings or bracelets that could harbour bacteria, wash your hands thoroughly with soap (all the way up to your wrists paying special attention to fingernails) and tie up long hair.
- Keep different foodstuffs separate. For example, use one chopping board for meat, and another for vegetables- and don’t let the foods mix until their cooked (unless you’re cooking them together of course!) This will help stop bacterial contamination.
- Be vigilant with meat. Some meats such as chicken and pork carry serious health and hygiene risks, and you need to be especially vigilant with how you prepare them. If frozen, allow enough defrosting time, and never wash raw chicken because it can increase your risk of food poisoning from campylobacter and easily spreads bacteria from the chicken to your sink area. Always ensure meat is cooked to the correct temperature, and that it is piping hot all the way through.
- Cool food before refrigerating. Putting hot or warm food in the fridge is dangerous for several reasons- firstly it can warm up other food in the fridge, and secondly, it can cause the item you are trying to refrigerate to cool unevenly, which increases the risk of food poisoning.
- Clean up as you go. Try to keep a clean and tidy work space, washing all work tops and chopping boards with hot water as cold water does not cut through grease. Chopping boards and kitchen sponges are two of the things which harbour the most germs, so be thorough when cleaning your chopping boards- and change your sponges and dishcloths regularly.