Food Safety Guru has issued five top tips on how to 'guarantee' a five-star rating.
The most common mistake is storing raw foods with ready-to-eat foods - however, raw foods does not mean just raw meat and fish.
It also includes unwashed and raw vegetables as they can be contaminated with E. coli and many other bacteria.
A storage system in the kitchen can eliminate any potential cross contamination of raw with ready-to-eat.
Keeping food items on racks instead of the floor and ensuring they have a date label can also help achieve that five-star rating.
2. Preparation – kitchen flow (cross contamination)
Washing raw and ready-to-eat foods and dishes in the same sink can cause problems in the pub kitchen.
Having separate sinks is one option but, if this isn’t feasible, plan the day so ready-to-eat foods are washed first, then raw vegetables next.
Have separate time slots for dishwashing and food prep and stick to them. Use a colander to drain cooked veg so the finished item does not come into contact with the sink.
Sanitise the sink after washing raw fruit and veg after dish washing and ensure procedures are documented.
Using the same preparation space for raw and ready-to-eat foods can also cause cross-contamination.
If the kitchen is large enough, split it into separate work areas such as raw meat, raw fish, raw veg and ready-to-eat preparation.
If the kitchen is smaller, plan the day to avoid cross-contamination. For example, for homemade burgers, make them first thing in the morning, then clean and sanitise all utensils and the work area before starting on the next activity and so on.
During busy service times, keep a separate area for raw and ready-to-eat and use colour-coded chopping boards.
Ensure ready-to-eat foods are not in the kitchen for prolonged periods of time by preparing food and either chilling or cooking immediately.
If cooling, cool food to below 8°C within 90 minutes – use a blast chiller or decant into smaller portions and cool in a bath of ice.
Keeping a clean handwash basin with antibacterial soap or blue roll to dry hands is vital in keeping the kitchen clean.
Dish cloths can harbour six times more bacteria than toilet handles and six out of 10 dishcloths harbour life-threatening bacteria such as E. coli.
Use blue roll and sanitiser to clean work surfaces as cloths that are used more than once can spread bacteria causing cross-contamination.
Keeping a cleaning schedule in place is an easy way to make sure routine cleaning jobs take place and the standard of cleaning in your kitchen is consistent.
4. Staff training
Training staff particularly around food poisoning and how to prepare food safely through online courses and information sheets can help avoid the risk of contamination.
Training should include:
- Specific hazards, risk, preventative and control measure relating to their job
- Food hygiene
- Knowledge and skills of the job
- Safe systems of work
- Responsibilities, arrangements, procedures, codes of practice and notices
- Chemical/COSHH use
- Manual handling
- Working at heights for any step ladder use
5. Record keeping
Food Safety Guru says operators will not get a Level 5 Food Hygiene Rating unless they record the above points.
It says the following paperwork is essential:
- Food Safety Policy
- HACCP Policy including every policy from supplier and delivery through to managing food allergies
- HACCP critical controls matrix
- Daily check sheet for deliveries, fridge/freezer temperature, food temperature (cooked/reheating/cooling), kitchen cleaning, front-of-house checks, health and safety policy and risk assessments, and staff training files.
- Health and safety policy and risk assessments
- Staff training files