Did you know that more than 200 diseases are spread through food? Millions fall seriously ill due to consuming unsafe food. Diarrheal diseases kill about 1.5 million children yearly, and most of these illnesses are caused by contaminated food. However, proper food preparation can prevent most foodborne diseases.
The key to excellent food hygiene is regulating harmful bacteria, which can cause severe illness. As restaurant owners, it is our duty to ensure that we are only serving food that is hygienic and safe.
The four essential rules to remember for good hygiene are the 4 Cs which are cross-contamination, cleaning, chilling and cooking.
Cross-contamination is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. It is when bacteria are spread between food, surfaces or equipment. It is most likely to occur when raw food touches ready-to-eat food, equipment or surfaces. Practicing procedures such as disinfecting work surfaces like chopping boards and knives as well as using separate machinery and equipment, like vacuum packing machines, slicers and mincers, for raw and ready-to-eat food will make a drastic difference in the hygiene conditions of the food.
Effective cleaning gets rid of bacteria on hands, equipment and surfaces. It helps to stop harmful bacteria from spreading onto food. Simple acts like making sure that all your staff wash and dry their hands thoroughly before handling food as well as clearing away used equipment, spilled food etc. as you work and clean work surfaces thoroughly in order to avoid build-up of mess leading to better hygienic conditions.
Chilling food correctly prevents harmful bacteria from growing. Some food needs to be kept chilled to keep it safe, for example, food with a ‘use by’ date, cooked dishes and other ready-to-eat food such as prepared salads and desserts. It is crucial not to place these types of food at room temperature. Incorporating tips such as checking chilled food on delivery to make sure it is cold enough or even putting food that needs to be kept chilled in the fridge straight away is an effective way of chilling food.
Thorough cooking destroys harmful bacteria in food. That is why it is so essential to making sure that food is properly cooked. When cooking or reheating food, one must ensure that it is steaming hot. food must always be served above a temperature of 63°C. It is especially vital to make sure that you thoroughly cook poultry and products made from minced meat, such as burgers and sausages.
This is because there could be bacteria in the middle of these types of products. They should not be served pink or rare and should be steaming hot all the way through. Whole cuts of beef and lamb, such as steaks, cutlets and whole joints, can be served pink/rare as long as they are fully sealed on the outside.
Having a hygienic kitchen space is very essential. By incorporating these 4C’s into your kitchen space, you are likely to prevent a number of foodborne illnesses and ensure that your customers never have to deal with food-related illnesses.