Every type of food and drink business must have a considered way of creating and serving food and drink. No matter whether you’re a restaurant with a complicated menu or a bar who doesn’t serve food, you should have a food safety management system (FSMS) which is based on the principles of hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP).
We’ve listed 5 things below which your business needs to ensure is included in your FSMS. If you haven’t created your process yet, read about how Chefs use Pilla to create their bespoke FSMS in less than 10 minutes.
1. Management of Food Safety
The first section of your FSMS should set out your aims, objectives and responsibilities for managing food safety. It should clearly outline who will take responsibility for delivering the highest standards of food hygiene and safety throughout the whole operation. This is the perfect opportunity to display how seriously the company takes food safety. It should clearly communicate the commitment to fulfil all of its duties in taking reasonable precautions and exercise all due diligence to avoid any food safety incidents occurring or harm, illness or injury befalling its customers or clients.
This section should also ensure explain how, where possible, any hazards are eliminated or removed and where not possible, any remaining risks will be controlled or managed as far as reasonably practicable.
As well as outlining who is responsible for food safety within the business, this section should also describe how the business will support the management and staff with a range of measures designed to improve food hygiene. Food handlers should be given information, instruction, training and be supervised to ensure that all relevant and critical practices and procedures are maintained to the highest levels.
This section should outline the method used for monitoring food safety day-to-day and what type of system will be used by all types of staff for recording key food safety checks. This system should include how temperature checks will be taken with temperature probes, how the equipment will be maintained and also how the tools used for recording the results of temperature checks and other monitoring. Read about how hospitality staff use Pilla to record digital food safety checks.
You should outline how you will choose the right suppliers for your business in this section. This includes carrying out sufficient due diligence on the suppliers including ingredients, equipment, delivery method and all other critical control points. Remember that food suppliers must also exercise due diligence in their own supply chains, which your organisation should require evidence of. Read more about choosing food suppliers.
This section should outline how you will deal with complaints and food allegations, should they occur. This is one of the biggest risks facing your business and so you should create a considered reaction pro-actively before an event occurs. This means that you will have sufficient time to train your staff in the correct response. You should consider your response to general complaints, allergen incidents and food poisoning. Read about the 14 major food allergens.
Lastly, on a similar note, you should also proactively prepare for your next visit from the Environmental Health Officers (EHO). The local authority will visit your business to carry out a food hygiene inspection in order to provide you a food hygiene rating score. EHO’s can enter your business at any reasonable time, this may be for a regular inspection or because of a complaint or allegation, including sightings of pests. The EHO will occasionally work with the trading standards if it is suspected that food is being produced or sold not of the substance as described so it’s important you understand how to deal with this. Download our free guide to the EHO ratings and how to nail your next visit.
2. Cross contamination
Your FSMS should consider all the possible routes for cross contamination possible given your operation. This will change depending on some of the cooking practices that you employ and the equipment which you use. However there are some very common routes of cross contamination which most businesses will face and so therefore should plan for, these include:
- Personal hygiene. Poor personal hygiene can seriously impact the safety of food prepared and serve to our customers. A personal hygiene plan/policy should be in place to ensure that food handlers follow strict protocols ensuring that food is safe and hygienic to eat. If a problem or a mistake occurs in regard to any of the safety points in your plan, it should be recorded and corrective actions taken.
- Fitness for work. The fitness for work plan/policy is to ensure that food handlers do not present any health risks to the food itself, if they show or have previously shown signs or symptoms of a food-borne illness or skin diseases/disorders. A convalescent carrier is a person who has suffered from a food borne illness and appears to have completely recovered but, is still harbouring and excreting these pathogenic bacteria, sometimes for a long period after recovery. This means food handlers can still present a significant risk to food safety until the point when all pathogenic organisms have been shown to have been excreted. It’s important that your business has a process for reducing this risk.
- Cloths, wipes and towels used in catering. These items are used by almost all members of staff in different ways throughout the day. if not careful, cloths can be used in a non-considered way in different parts of the business which greatly increases the risk of cross-contamination. Your plan to reduce this risk should include single use cloths, reusable cloths, colour coded cloths and a proper laundering system. You should also have a strategy for recording issues and taking corrective action.
- Purchase, delivery, receipt and transfer .As outlined in section 1, only reputable nominated approved suppliers should be used. However even approved suppliers produce a risk of cross-contamination which needs to be managed. You should develop and follow strict control procedures at all stages to ensure the integrity of the food during transport from the supplier to you. It’s also important to ensure that deliveries are checked in properly and issues with food can be easily recorded, escalated and actioned.
- Safe storage of food. It is essential that different types of foods are stored separately under different storage conditions to maintain both the safety and the quality of the food. This includes cooled and frozen foods, raw foods, decanted foods and ready to eat foods.
- Food preparation. All food handlers must follow your food preparation plan and good practice guidelines when handling food to ensure that contamination is not transferred to the food due to poor handling practices. This includes all aspect of food preparation including defrosting, temperature control, work surfaces, equipment and utensils, washing and cleaning.
- Maintenance and pest control.Regular planned maintenance of the building, structure, equipment and utensils is essential primarily to reduce the risk of contamination, whilst also ensuring that equipment is working properly in order to produce safe food. Planned inspections and maintenance checks will ensure that problems are identified before they become a serious problem. This includes, walls, ceilings, flooring, lighting, drainage, extractors and other equipment. Maintenance failure and poor housekeeping can lead to pests. Pests are a major source of contamination and therefore must be prevented and controlled. Pest activity and ingress can harm food and the food production environment as well as handlers and customers. Your pest control plan should include choosing the right contractor, tools to use, improved housekeeping and inspection.
It’s critical to create and carry out a sufficient cleaning plan as part of your FSMS. Your cleaning schedule should take into consideration every part of your operation including the building, the equipment used and the type of service you provide. Some equipment/locations will require more regular cleaning than others, in possibly in more thorough ways. No matter, your cleaning schedule, there are a handful of cleaning principals which you should include in your FSMS, these include:
- Effective cleaning/Clean as you go/Two-stage cleaning. You should document exactly how each item/location is best cleaned. This will means considering the frequency and methodology. If you’re unsure the best cleaning method, you should seek advice from your cleaning supplier or the supplier of each piece of equipment.Cleaning as you go is generally the method employed in the hospitality industry as it is the safest and easiest method. Food soiling and debris is potential food and a growing medium for microorganisms, as well as being a potential food supply for pests, so the most effective strategy is to remove this waste as soon as possible (as you go). It is also easier to clean if undertaken immediately, a build-up of food residues and soiling will make it more difficult to remove later.
Two stage cleaning means firstly physically removing the food residues then a second stage of disinfection. It is also recommended that before applying a product to remove food residues, firstly, gross contamination is wiped off using single use disposable centrefeed roll, then a chemical to remove food residues is applied. For heavy contamination a food grade hard surface cleaner/degreaser should be used first, for very light contamination, the sanitiser can be initially applied and used as a hard surface cleaner. These chemicals should be washed/cleaned off with a clean cloth.
- Sanitisers and other chemicals. You should carefully consider the types of chemicals that you will use and create a chemical inventory inline with COSHH Regulations. Sanitiser chemicals are used in the catering industry, along with hard surface cleaners/degreasers to clean and disinfect surfaces and equipment. Sanitisers can, if used correctly, reduce bacteria to a safe level on surfaces but can present hazards if not used correctly. Training of staff in how to carry out cleaning procedures is very important and well as staff understanding how cleaners and sanitisers work.
4. Chilling foods
Certain types of foods, especially high protein and high moisture foods provide perfect growth conditions for microorganisms, both pathogenic and spoilage types. These foods can be ready to eat or raw, bacteria will not distinguish between the two. This means that you should have a detailed process of how you will chill foods as part of your FSMS.
Low temperatures 1- 5°c will, in most cases slow bacterial growth down considerably, bacteria will, however, still multiply, but very slowly. One or two bacteria, known as psychrotrophs can multiply at normal rates even at very low temperatures in a refrigerated unit e.g. Listeria monocytogenes and clostridium botulinum. Strict temperature control of refrigerated units must be maintained at all times to keep the risk level as low as possible.
Temperature control and monitoring of refrigerated units is critical to food safety. Chilled display units present extra hazards when they can be accessed by the general public e.g. Salad bars and display units for sandwiches etc. Staff must follow your safety points at all times and be trained in the your process for monitoring and recording equipment temperatures. Read about how hospitality staff use Pilla to record these checks digitally.
5. Cooking foods
Perhaps one of the more obvious aspects to consider in your FSMS, is your plan for cooking foods. It is important that foods are cooked to a time and temperature combination which reduce bacteria to a safe level for human consumption. Consumers may develop food borne illnesses if unsafe food is ingested. Some foods and cooking methods require extra care and diligence in order to avoid problems. Staff should understand your safety points for dealing with all the types of foods you cook and the process of cooking foods which you employ.
The following time and temperature combinations have been scientifically proven to reduce bacteria to a safe level. These combinations rely on staff checking that the whole of the product has been cooked thoroughly throughout the food at the required temperature for the required time.
Staff should be aware that the figures below are minimum time/temperature combinations. i.e critical limits, therefore longer periods or higher temperatures represent good practice.
- 80°c for 6 seconds
- 75°c for 30 seconds
- 70°c for 2 minutes
Remember: that if any combination lower than 75°c is used, for the purposes of due diligence you must indicate on the monitoring sheets both the temp/time reading as below for example: 70°/ 2 mins
Random temperatures during each service period should be taken with a disinfected probe thermometer and recorded in your daily monitoring records. Read about how hospitality staff use Pilla to record these checks digitally.
If you have any special cooking methods such as sous vide, or you provide raw foods then you should specifically set out your process for these foods. You should do the same if you intend to hold food in a hot display as the food is required to be held at a suitable temperature for a period which is not too long. It is also worth considering how you will manage allergens within your food menu and ensure that you cater for all anybody with allergies to the makor 14 major allergen types.