One element of the kitchen that should come first is food safety and spending a little time on the subject will always bode well for business.
Food safety is something all operators should take seriously or be faced with the potentially dire consequences. Temperatures of food when being stored pre and post-cooking is just one area that needs to be taken care of to avoid poisoning diners.
Food Safety Guru says if foods are not defrosted under controlled temperature conditions in the fridge, the outside temperature of the food can rise into the ‘danger zone’, which is between 8°C and 63°C, while the core of the food is still frozen.
This means by the time the core has defrosted, any bacteria present on the outside surface of the raw food has had time to multiply in ideal temperature conditions, and it might not be possible to kill all the bacteria through the normal cooking process.
For instance, the flesh of fish produces histamine at 16°C, which cannot be detected as it can’t be smelled or seen, yet it can be killed by cooking.
Fish should always be defrosted in the fridge under controlled temperature conditions as the outside temperature of fish will easily rise to 16°C if defrosted in a sink of water or a warm kitchen.
If a customer eats fish containing histamine after it has been subjected to changing temperatures during defrosting, they can have an allergic reaction from the fish.
Food Safety Guru’s top hazard analysis and critical control points tips:
Storage – store food at correct temperatures and store ready-to-eat foods above raw foods
Date labelling – all high-risk foods in fridges and freezers need to be labelled with the use-by date
Preparation – separate raw food preparation from ready-to-eat preparation, use separate boards and utensils and have a good handwashing procedure in place
Cooking and cooling – cook high-risk protein items to a core cooking temperature of at least 75°C for a minimum of 30 seconds. Cool high-risk foods within 90 minutes.
It is possible to cool food down quickly such as using a blast chiller. However, if the equipment to do this is not available, then there are other ways to do this, according to Food Safety Guru.
Stir sauces frequently during cooling to disperse hot spots, decant into smaller portions, place on top of a gastro pan full of ice, use reusable plastic ice packs under and on top of the dish, or place a gastro dish in the fridge or freezer to cool before using it to decant food into to speed up the cooling process.
However, when it comes to allergic reactions, a new law has recently come into force following the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse after she ate a baguette from Pret A Manger that didn’t label a certain ingredient in 2016.
Natasha’s Law means any foods that are pre-packed on site for direct sale need to be labelled, with a full list of ingredients showing allergens highlighted in bold.
This will require operators who sell pre-packed food to list all ingredients and allergens on the labels of any sandwiches, wraps, salad pots, cakes, etc, that are made on site and pre-packed prior to selling from the pub.
It is worth noting that this law only applies to pre-packaged food and not food made to order.
A big issue
The legislation will become mandatory in summer 2021 and Food Safety Guru recommends operators implement full ingredient listing on any pre-packaged foods as soon as possible to protect the business and its customers.
Equipment manufacturer Pro Foodservice Reps managing director Andy Piggin warns operators on what a big issue dealing with allergens is nowadays and why it is so important pubs recognise this.
He adds: “Wind the clock back 30 years and you wouldn’t have expected foodservice operators to provide information on allergens, and why would they?
“For whatever reason, and there are many arguments surrounding this, the propensity of people with allergies has drastically shot up in the past 20 years.
“Today, one in 100 people suffer with coeliac disease with one in 14 children under the age of three having one or more food allergies.
“This is staggering and the upshot is that it is now not just packaged food and drink products that have to detail ingredients that fall into the allergen category.”
Piggin outlines exactly how foodservice businesses need to highlight the allergens in the foods they serve or be hit in the pocket.
He says: “Caterers across the board must provide information on the 14 main allergens to the consumer for non pre-packed food or drink. Operators might underestimate the importance of this but they can be fined steeply for failing to be transparent.
“As testament to this, according to health and safety experts the Navitas Group, more than eight in 10 people who look for allergy information expect restaurant kitchens to have up-to-date technology to minimise the risk posed by allergens, but also processes in place across their back-of-house operation.”