Food is the core substance in life, it not only keeps us nourished and active – it keeps us alive. Most people would argue that taste and quality are the vital characteristics of food, but are we missing out on the most important aspect of food?
In England and Wales alone, it is estimated that there are 1.3 million cases of food related illnesses each year. As a contract catering company, it is crucial for abm to promote and practice exceptional food hygiene. In 2014 the FSA (Food Standards Agency) carried out a study, finding there were 500,000 cases of food poisoning. The most common food related illness was Campylobacter with approximately 281,000 cases; the study also found that Salmonella caused the most hospital admissions. But what is causing these illnesses?
Poultry meat is linked to the majority of cases with an estimated 244,000 incidents every year. The second highest number of cases was found to be caused by produce including vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. Beef and lamb were the third largest cause of illness with approximately 43,000 cases.
With this in mind, it is important we try to reduce, if not stop these incidents from occurring. So, we asked abm’s in-house EHO trained Health & Safety Manager, Clare Hanna for some quick tips, she said:
“Wash your hands regularly. Hands are the most common vehicle for the transfer of micro-organisms. The most important time to wash your hands is upon entering a food room, after using the toilet, after the preparation of raw meats, after putting out the rubbish and before touching ready to eat foods. It is essential to practice good hand washing techniques, avoiding the risk of re-contamination.
“Keep clean. Potentially dangerous micro-organisms are found in many sources including soil, water, animals, food, waste and people. Any hand or food contact surfaces can be the vehicle through which harmful bacteria are transferred. This is why it is important that all surfaces are cleaned and disinfected regularly. A potentially overlooked vehicle for bacterial contamination is chopping boards; when these are worn they provide grooves, in which bacteria can survive and harbour and may not be killed off during normal disinfection – you should always replace your chopping boards regularly!
“Separate raw and ready to eat foods, at all times during storage and preparation. Raw food, especially seafood, meat, poultry, unwashed vegetables and the shell on eggs are sources of micro-organisms, which can be transferred onto ready to eat foods during food preparation and storage.
“Cook food thoroughly. It should be steaming in the middle and maintain a core temperature of at least 75⁰ C for 30 seconds. In abm’s units, all protein foods must be probed and the temperature recorded in daily logs. Foods that require special attention are minced meats, rolled roasts, joints and poultry on the bone.
“Keep food at a safe temperature. Chilled foods must be kept below 8⁰ C and for hot food above 63⁰ C. When food is cooled down this process must be completed within 90 minutes to reduce the amount of time food is left out at ambient temperatures.
“Use safe water and raw materials. At abm we use portable water and purchase our foods from nominated approved suppliers. All of our units’ complete checks for all deliveries including temperature, date and quality checks upon receipt; these are then recorded in their daily log. In addition, all of abm’s units follow the company date labelling and stock control procedures.
It is essential that contract catering companies, like ours, apply these practices in an attempt to try and reduce the statistics given from the FSA. We are proud that all of our chefs and kitchen staff are trained to these high standards. Our exemplary food, meticulous highly trained staff and the quality organisations abm partner ourselves with give us the skills to achieve these food safety top tips.
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