Food Hygiene a guide for takeaways
By Kevin Moyse
At Cheap Takeaway Menus we’re not just interested in cheap menu printing and takeaway menu design. As menu printers we’ll admit to being more interested in menu printing than most but we’re well aware that takeaway menu printing requires actual takeaways to provide cheap takeaway menus to. To that end we like to talk not only about menu design and menu printing, but about all aspects of takeaway business, perhaps offer some hints and tips or just provide a refresher for you while you’re placing your menu printing order.
We want your takeaway business not only to survive but to thrive. That way we can continue to do what we love to do as menu printers and offer you cheap takeaway menu printing solutions.
For want of a clean the takeaway was lost
Every day in the news there are stories of takeaways being fined for poor hygiene, inadequate cleaning, maintenance or the dreaded issue of pest control. These can all lead to prosecution by the local environmental health department, and the fines (plus costs) imposed on the guilty can run into thousands. For a takeaway that could mean the difference between staying open and closing down.
Poor food hygiene practices can lead to you losing your business, and we don’t want your takeaway menus turning into nothing but collectors’ items.
Food hygiene regulations
Most importantly for your takeaway business is the following legislation :-
- Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs
- The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 (and similar Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish legislation
These documents lay down the minimum hygiene requirements which your business must conform to. They relate to your takeaway business premises and equipment, staff personal hygiene, food safety management and record keeping.
General food safety regulations
As well as the above, your takeaway must also comply with the General Food Law Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 and the General Food Regulations 2004 both are available here. These describe how the food you sell should be safe and fit for consumption.
If you are offering alternatives for allergy sufferers then you must fully consider just what those allergies or intolerances are and act accordingly. www.food.gov.uk
Your takeaway will be inspected by environmental health to confirm that the regulations are being adhered to. This can happen as a matter of routine or because someone has complained. You will probably have no warning about their visit. The more they find they have to visit, the more they will visit. If you follow the guidelines conscientiously you may only see them once a year. Just like us at cheap takeaway menus, they want your business to do well, so their main focus will be on offering you any help or advice, but if they find your standards are low they will not hesitate to take more drastic action.
So here are the basics of food hygiene for you and your takeaway business. Please forgive us if we are telling you things you already know (we’re mainly menu printers) but there might be one gem of info in here that you didn’t know. If that’s true it could end up preventing your takeaway from becoming a thing of the past.
It’s all about the Ps and Cs.
Your premises must –
- Be a place which is clean and well-maintained.
- Be a place where food can be prepared safely.
- Be a place where you can abide by sound food hygiene procedures.
- Be a place protected from contamination and infestation.
- Have adequate means for your staff to clean, wash and dry their hands hygienically.
- Have separate facilities for the washing of food and equipment.
- Provide sufficient toilets which do not directly adjoin areas where food is stored or prepared.
- Be well ventilated.
- Floors ceilings and walls should be maintained, easily cleaned and sanitised.
- Ceilings need to be decorated and maintained in a way which stops the build-up of dirt, mould and condensation.
- Windows and doors should be similarly maintained and any exterior doors should be insect-proof if necessary.
- All surfaces need to be well-maintained, easily cleaned and sanitised. This particularly applies to any surface which food comes into contact with.
- There should be enough space and equipment for the proper cleaning and sterilising of kitchen implements. This includes access to a plentiful supply of both hot and cold water.
Your takeaway should have food safety management procedures which are strictly followed and up-to-date records should be kept on them and any changes relating to them.
The FSA and local councils produce guidance material on how to go about implementing these procedures.
Food should be properly stored –
- Refrigerate food which needs to remain chilled. (see Chilling below)
- Meat, fish and poultry should be stored apart from food which is ready to eat (see Cross-contamination).
- Food which spoils quickly should be checked regularly and expiration dates should be strictly followed.
- Store foods in such a way that pests will not be attracted.
Methodical cleaning is common sense. What you are looking to do is to prevent bacteria getting on to food. So anything that food comes into contact with (surfaces, equipment and staff) should be properly, regularly and logically cleaned. Put together a timetable of what needs cleaning, how and how often.
- Staff should thoroughly wash and dry their hands before and after handling food.
- Preparation surfaces and equipment should be cleaned after tasks are completed, particularly where uncooked food is involved.
- Keep surfaces and equipment clean as you work. Clear up spillages immediately.
- Use the correct cleaning products.
Food businesses which do not follow a proper cleaning regimen are much more likely to be marked for prosecution.
Put simply, cross-contamination is the spreading of bacteria. This can occur from food to food or from food to surfaces and equipment and then to food. Cross-contaminated food is the number one cause of food poisoning.
If raw food comes into contact with food which is ready to eat it can transfer bacteria. If it comes into contact with surfaces or equipment it transfers bacteria. It’s the nature of things. The trick is to ensure this doesn’t happen, or if it does that it is dealt with immediately. All raw food preparation should be seen as a source of cross-contamination and surfaces and equipment should not be used again until they have been cleaned. This includes hands. You can clean every surface and utensil in the place but if you haven’t cleaned your hands first then potentially everything you touch is immediately contaminated again.
- Separate raw meat/fish/poultry from other foods.
- Wash and dry hands after touching raw meat/fish/poultry.
- Where possible, prepare raw meat/fish/poultry using different utensils and chopping surfaces.
- Most importantly, train your staff on the dangers of cross-contamination and the procedures which can be used to avoid it.
Properly chilled food prevents nasty bacteria from growing and multiplying.
Anything with a use-by date should be chilled, as should cooked food, salads and desserts.
Don’t leave anything to the mercy of room temperatures.
Chilled food should arrive to you cold and immediately stored in the fridge. It should not be out of the fridge for very long while being prepared.
Maintain your refrigeration equipment, regularly checking that they are sufficiently cold. The law states that cold food must be stored no higher than 8 degrees centigrade, but preferably below 5 degrees to be on the safe side. If anything sits at above 8 degrees while being displayed, it should not be out like this for longer than four hours. After that you can either throw it away or chill it to below 8 degrees once more.
Just as proper chilling can prevent bacteria from growing in food, proper cooking gets rid of bacteria already present. At Cheap Takeaway Menus we know our takeaway customers take as much pride in the quality of their food as we take in the quality of our menu design and menu printing, so we know that you know the importance of properly cooked food.
It is essential that food is cooked properly to kill any bacteria which might be present, so when cooking poultry, pork, burgers or sausages it is vital that you cook it thoroughly so the meat at the centre is cooked. None of these products should be presented pink or rare. Always check that it is cooked through and is very hot at the centre.
Any food undercooked could be a cause of food poisoning.
It is not enough for your premises and equipment to be hygienic. You and your staff should be equally clean. Hand washing is the most important activity you can perform to ensure good personal hygiene around food.
You and your staff need to make sure you wash and dry your hands properly -
- Before preparing food.
- After touching raw food, especially meat/poultry/fish or eggs.
- After a break.
- After going to the toilet.
- After cleaning.
Wear clean and appropriate clothing (an apron is preferable in some instances). Tie back your hair or cover it with a hairnet or other covering. Remove any unnecessary jewellery whilst preparing food (a wedding ring is fine). It surely goes without saying that whilst preparing food you shouldn’t be sneezing or coughing over it and should try not to touch your hair or your face. And of course staff should be staying away when they are not well.
Local council environmental health teams will be able to advise you on any individual cases. Find your local council
Food hygiene regulations require that you take sufficient steps to control pests.
Although having a good pest control specialist on retainer is a good idea as actually dealing with pest problems is best left to professionals, ultimately it is your responsibility to manage any pest problems and to check regularly for any signs of infestation.
In running your takeaway business you may come across two main types of pest –
Rats and mice are the most common pests to be found in any food business. The most efficient way of dealing with a rodent infestation is not to let it happen in the first place. Examine your premises for any gaps where mice could enter, bearing in mind that mice can enter through a hole the size of a pen. Any gaps under external doors, or where any cabling or trunking passes in from outside should be properly sealed. Take your time and think where anything could get into your premises. Are there any suspended ceilings or loft spaces where gaps could be hidden from view? Are there any unused or broken pipes or toilets? Open windows or vents? Think about every level of the property from the roof down.
Remove even the smallest bits of food debris to cut off any food source which will attract rodents and keep them around. You should be doing this anyway as part of your cleaning regimen. Store food off the ground and away from walls if possible (this also makes it easier to visually inspect the area).
Look for signs of rodent presence. This could be droppings on the floor, shelves or surfaces. It could also be ingredient bags or boxes which have been visibly chewed, or it could be something you see out of the corner of your eye scuttling under a cupboard.
This usually refers to cockroaches. The best way to discourage cockroaches from sticking around is to starve them of any food or water source. Store food where they can’t access it (cockroaches may be the only thing surviving after a nuclear war but they wouldn’t last very long if all they were left to eat was sealed inside Tupperware). Fix any pipes which may be leaking, dripping taps and any condensation problems; mop up any spillages, empty any bowls and sinks.
Fix any peeling wallpaper, repair any loose tiles. Cockroaches can squeeze through the tiniest of gaps so be vigilant to repair any cracks in plaster or wood. Disinfect regularly just in case there are any eggs present. Vacuum your premises on a regular basis especially getting into all the little nooks and crannies. A local exterminator will be able to advise you further.
Remember that as far as your takeaway business is concerned even your domestic animals are regarded as pests. Better leave them at home.
Food hygiene laws are detailed but are also mostly common sense. When you’re thinking about food hygiene in your takeaway, take an approach similar to our approach towards takeaway menu design and menu printing. Our takeaway menu design experts start with an idea of what the completed takeaway menu needs to look like, employ the correct methods to reach that goal, and then pass to our menu printers to finish the job.
If your goal is a successful and hygienic takeaway which passes all the regulation requirements, take a look at what you might need to do to reach that point, and then make sure the right people are tasked to achieve it.