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Food Poisoning Risk Over The Festive Season

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For most, November and December is the busiest season of the year. High volumes of food are prepared, served and eaten. This means that there are natural risks that increase as a result of the higher volumes. Meaning we need to know how to manage food poisoning risks over the festive season.

What are these risks?

Larger volumes of food, mean that there is less space to stores these foods in the fridges. Less space means that there is a high chance that raw meats get stored with Ready to Eat Foods, such as salads. Never mind separating vegetables, dairy, meats and shellfish. There is often just no space.

Suppliers close over the season, meaning that if you run out of chemicals such as hand soap, cleaners and sanitisers. You are left without support, with no ability to clean and sanitise. This means you won’t be able to effectively clean and kill bacteria in the kitchen.

It’s crazy busy, which means, that foods get left at ambient temperature for longer that is necessary. Staff in the kitchen are focused on preparing the meals, which will be in large batches to cope with the increased numbers of orders.

It gets hot (at least in the Southern Hemisphere), meaning that the closer the kitchen temperature is to 37° C (98° F), the easier it is for bacteria to grow. This is a natural risk.

A quick reminder: What do bacteria need to grow and survive?

There are 6 elements in the environment that allow bacteria to grow and survive:

  • Temperature
  • Moisture Content
  • pH
  • Nutrient Content
  • Oxygen
  • Time

Temperature and Time are one of the most important factors in the kitchen. So allowing foods to be left out at critical temperatures for longer periods of time not only increases the risk of causing food poisoning but also affects the quality of foods.

How To Manage Food Poisoning Risk Over The Festive Season:

  • Make sure you have enough storage space to accommodate the increased volume of food.
  • At the very least, keep your raw meats separate from any other foods.
  • Ensure that you have ordered enough stock of chemicals to get you through the season. Running out of chemicals will increase the risk of causing food poisoning. Hand soap, multi-purpose cleaner and a sanitiser are absolutely essential.
  • Take the 30 seconds that you need to do the clean as you go. Customers won’t notice the 30 seconds, but you can be guaranteed that they will notice food poisoning!

Here a quick reminder on clean as you go:

When to use clean-as-you-go:

These tasks include :

  1. Raw and ready-to-eat food preparation
  2. Cleaning tasks
  3. Leaving your work station

Steps to be followed when implementing cleaning and sanitising:

  1. Remove excess dirt or grease
  2. Spray on a multi-purpose cleaner
  3. Wipe off with a clean material cloth
  4. Spray on a sanitiser
  5. Allow a sufficient contact time (3 – 5 minutes)
  6. Wipe off with paper towel
  • As tempting as it might be to make large batches of prepared meals at once, DON’T DO IT. Prepare each ingredient or item for the plate at a time and keep the others in the fridge until you are ready to prepare them.
  • Keep hot foods HOT and cold foods COLD. 
  • Get the fridge maintenance guys out to make sure the fridges are working. With the increased stock that you are carrying, there is a risk of losing it all overnight!
  • Don’t ignore those cutting boards. Make sure you’re cleaning and sanitising these regularly.
  • Your staff are going to be distracted, so you need to on the ball. This means you need to make sure they are washing their hands regularly and when needed.

Here a quick reminder on handwashing:

Hand washing should take place between tasks such as between:

  1. Raw and ready-to-eat food preparation
  2. Before, during, and after preparing food
  3. Cleaning tasks
  4. Entering and exiting the kitchen
  5. After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  6. After touching garbage
  7. And most importantly after using the ablution facilities

How to wash your hands in a hygienic manner:

  1. Clear off any excess food or dirt by rinsing underwater
  2. Use a liquid hand soap and thoroughly wash your
  3. entire hand and forearm
  4. Rinse under warm water
  5. Dry your hands with paper towel
  6. Dispose of paper towel in a pedal bin
  7. Apply an alcohol-based hand sanitiser

The last piece of advice we can give on how to manage the risk of food poisoning over the festive season is to make sure that you have sufficient staff to manage the increased volumes. The number one reason for uncontrolled food poisoning outbreaks is lack of attention. Which is usually as a result of staff shortages in the kitchen, especially cleaning staff! If you haven’t yet trained your staff on food safety, you need to get this done as soon as possible.

The Food Safety for the Kitchen Online Course

The Food Safety for the Kitchen Online Course is designed to offer understanding and insight into the requirements of kitchen hygiene and food safety in order to assist you in preventing the risk of causing food poisoning.

Course Information

The Food Safety for the Kitchen Online course includes :

  • All food safety procedures
  • Food Safety legal requirements
  • Microbiological best practice
  • All critical and most major non-conformances will be explained.
  • Tips on how to comply with requirements.
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