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Food Safety Hazards in the UK

It only takes one act of negligence on your part to get your food business in trouble with the public and the authorities, which is why food safety is such an important part of any food establishment. Should you find yourself in hot waters with the law, you’ll be glad to have all your ducks in a row with the proper paperwork and everything in place to prove that you’ve been running a respectable, hygienic and safe establishment.

Here’s what you should look out for and avoid so you can ensure complete food safety in the long term:

Hazard Types

Generally speaking, there are three kinds of food safety hazards to be aware of, namely biological, chemical and physical hazards, and here’s how they work:

  • Biological Hazards – They comprise of certain viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites that occur as a result of below par food handling, or an external contamination of some sort. That’s why it’s important to verify your produce suppliers to ensure that they’re approved by SALSA or the BRC. The only course of action to take when your business experiences a biological hazard is to instantly dispose of the food it came with.
  • Chemical Hazards – These infiltrate your business through things like the oils used to calibrate your machines or pesticides in the raw ingredients/ produce. The best line of defence against chemical hazards is to conduct thorough inspections on all food deliveries to ensure that they are safe enough to eat, and be sure to write down your findings with each delivery so that you have clear records in case there are any issues with the delivery. Also organise your storage so that food items aren’t mixed with chemicals and vice versa.
  • Physical Hazards – Physical objects like a shard of glass or a piece of broken metal or wood can severely contaminate your food and lead to dangerous consequences for the customers who consume it. Food needs to be prepared mindfully and stored carefully in order to prevent any likelihood of getting contaminated by any harmful physical objects, no matter how minuscule they are.

Foodborne Illnesses

Spoiled or rotten food often leads to food-borne illnesses due to the bacteria, parasites or viruses that fester and proliferate as a result of poor food storage or management. The easiest way to prevent this kind of contamination from occurring is to strictly follow your HACCP food safety management system to the latter, while ensuring that food is cooked well and is safely stored.

Common Causes

  • Wrong Temperature and Timing – Not cooking food thoroughly and at the right temperature, holding food for too long or even cooling and reheating it too often can lead to the development of pathogens that threaten the safety of your food.
  • Cross Contamination – This happens when you mix uncooked poultry or white meat with cooked food, or when you don’t wash the hands thoroughly after handling these types of meat. The best way to avoid this is to prepare each food on a different surface with different tools and utensils.
  • Poor Individual Hygiene – Avoid this by washing hands with soap in between food preparation tasks. You should also take daily showers or baths; keep nails trimmed; keep wounds covered and refrain from handling food when wounded; wear a uniform including a cap and apron at all times; cover your hands with single-use gloves every time you cook or serve ready-to-eat food;  don’t cook when feeling sick; and remove all jewellery when you’re in the kitchen.
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