The importance of good food hygiene in hotels and restaurants should never be overlooked. All food handlers must be aware of food hygiene regulations, their individual responsibilities, and the best practices they can apply to meet safe food standards.
There are an estimated 2.4 million of food poisoning in the UK every year, a number that has more than doubled in the last decade. The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) runs a nationwide ‘Food Hygiene Ratings Scheme’ which rates restaurants according to their food hygiene standards. The purpose of this scheme is to encourage compliance by all food handlers and restaurant managers while making the public aware of the standards in individual establishments.
In the UK, one of the vital requirements for storing and preparing safe food is to implement procedures based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles. These principles were initially developed for the food processing industry. However, they work as a best practice guide for restaurants, bars, and cafes looking to comply with all food hygiene regulations.
In this blog, we’ll provide information about what food hygiene is, why restaurants must comply with food hygiene regulations, and sound food hygiene principles. We’ll also discuss the legal implications and penalties associated with noncompliance, food safety management procedures, and the importance of staff training.
Perhaps you already know the basics of food hygiene? This blog will refresh your knowledge and offer up-to-date information, leaving you confident that your restaurant is fully compliant with UK food hygiene regulations and providing a safe environment for your staff and customers.
Some critical elements of food hygiene include:
- Cleaning procedures – All kitchen and restaurant equipment must be meticulously cleaned. Including kitchenware, front of house areas, surfaces, floors, and bins.
- Cross-contamination prevention – This can be implemented by using colour-coded chopping boards and knives, storing raw and cooked foods separately, maintaining a cleaning rota, and cleaning all surfaces thoroughly. These measures help to prevent bacterial, allergenic, chemical, and physical cross-contamination.
- Personal hygiene – This can be implemented by wearing appropriate uniforms and protective clothing, regularly washing hands and implementing strict procedures around illnesses for all restaurant employees.
- Cooking temperatures – In a restaurant environment, it’s crucial that all food served to customers is stored at the correct temperatures and cooked appropriately. These measures help to prevent the growth and spread of potentially harmful bacteria.
- Allergen awareness control – All restaurant staff need to be aware of the 14 most common food allergens and should try to prevent cross-contamination from these allergens at all times.
- Safe storage of food – All food on your restaurant premises must be labelled and dated appropriately and stored in temperature-controlled environments. All staff that handle and serve food must undergo training about what items of food can and cannot be stored close together. This helps to minimise the risk of food poisoning from occurring.
There are several reasons why food hygiene is so essential in restaurants;
Food hazards and food poisoning
- Ill health and food poisoning caused by contaminated foods are some of the biggest concerns associated with food preparation. Restaurant employees need to understand the leading causes of contamination, how food becomes contaminated, and how to prevent this from happening.
- Minimal amounts of contamination can lead to allergic reactions and food poisoning. These conditions are so severe that they can lead to fatalities, so all food must be prepared safely and in a hygienic environment.
- Professional training helps to ensure that employees understand the potential hazards of food preparation and how to prevent allergic reactions and food poisoning from occurring.
- Reputation, penalty notices, and closure
- In the hospitality industry, reputation is everything. An inadequate food hygiene rating or negative online reviews can completely destroy a business. It’s worth remembering that your customers will recognise your efforts when it comes to outstanding food hygiene practices.
- If a customer falls ill after dining in your restaurant, the chances of them ever returning are significantly reduced, not to mention the negative reviews and comments that they could make to friends or family. A recent survey found that 54% of customers share negative experiences with five or more people, whereas only 33% of people share positive experiences.
- Additionally, once your restaurant has been inspected and received a poor food hygiene rating, you have 14 days to implement any recommended changes. Failure to do so can result in unlimited fines, prison, and closure of your restaurant. All of these penalties can be avoided by complying with basic food safety and hygiene regulations from the outset.
- Training improves quality control and efficiency
- Food safety can help your restaurant to maintain profits and minimise wastage as it acts as a benchmark for quality control. Much less food will be wasted once your staff are fully trained in food safety and hygiene best practices. Two additional benefits are that your kitchen will become more cost-effective, and your reputation as a provider of high-quality food will improve.
- Employees will understand their jobs
- Over time, some employees may question why they have to perform specific tasks in certain ways. However, once they have completed food safety training, they will have a deeper understanding of their responsibilities. The training will remind them that the health and safety of co-workers and customers is their responsibility.
- Your employees will be handling the food
- As your restaurant staff are the people that will handle and prepare the food, they must do so in the safest possible manner. This helps to protect customers from hazardous foods while ensuring that employees maintain high standards of hygiene for personal safety.