Health and Safety News

Many people have been surprised to see a large rise in the number of people with allergies over the last couple of decades, which means that the need for allergy awareness seems to be here to stay. Anyone working in a professional food-preparation environment will need to consider how their actions and process impact on the food which they serve to ensure that they are able to protect their customers. Eating food which either contains an allergen or has been in contact with something which may provoke a reaction could mean an uncomfortable time at best for someone with an allergy, but at worst it could be potentially fatal.

Understanding which foods could cause allergic reactions and how best to minimise the risk of contamination in a kitchen is an essential part of earning a food hygiene certificate. It should come as second nature to anyone who is well versed in running an efficient kitchen, but it is everybody's responsibility to ensure that food is prepared to a high standard. All staff should know how to spot a potential allergen, which foods may have surprising ingredients and how to avoid contamination between foods to avoid a potentially dangerous incident.

Food storage is one area in which allergy awareness is key. Anyone with a food hygiene certificate should be familiar with the best practice involved in keeping and maintaining a fridge, freezer or dry-food store to minimise risk. Observing best practice when it comes to storing your food includes checking each delivery carefully, allocating specific areas to foods which might be problematic to those eating them and putting processes in place to ensure that they are kept apart. When it comes to food preparation, it is vital to use separate utensils for food which may cause an allergic reaction and avoid cross-contamination by keeping strictly to certain areas. For dishes which are advertised as gluten-free or nut-free, it is imperative that the ingredients are kept free from potential cross-contamination with other products which may contain allergens from the moment they arrive in the kitchen until they are served.

Allergies are possibly the quickest way to harm someone who is eating food prepared in a professional kitchen so their management is a vital part of working in and running a kitchen. For anyone who is responsible for any stage of food preparation, studying for a food hygiene certificate will help you to understand your role in keeping your customers safe.

 

When you're cooking at home, it's easy enough to just turn up the heat a little under something that is cooking too slowly, or leave a pan to simmer whilst you prepare other ingredients. But in a professional kitchen, understanding the temperature of everything you cook is an important part of making food that not only tastes good, but is safe to eat as well.

Meat is the main culprit as it has to be cooked at a certain temperature, with different cuts and different thicknesses having different requirements to be cooked properly and still be safe to eat. Most of the danger associated with heating meat at temperatures which aren't high enough is that there are bacteria present in the uncooked flesh. When food isn't prepared with a high heat, these bacteria can survive the cooking process and cause problems. Using a low heat level could even encourage increased bacterial growth and make the dish more dangerous.

Any food which is prepared in a way which doesn't observe best practice could be harbouring a whole host of bacteria, which is why it is so important to understand the science behind food temperature. A food hygiene course is ideal for anyone who wants to hone their understanding of how the process of cooking can be made safer. You can learn the basics of preparing fresh food for immediate service, as well as gain an understanding of how best to cool down food designed to be re-heated and store it in a way that limits the potential for bacteria to grow.

Storage is also an important element of ensuring that your kitchen is a safe environment for preparing food of all types. Fresh food needs to be kept in sealed containers in purpose-built appliances which are set up for bulk storage of ingredients. Preparing a salad with fresh leaves which may have come into contact with raw chicken, for example, could cause terrible food poisoning. It can be easily avoided by allocating specific areas to different foods to ensure that cross-contamination is impossible.

Working in a kitchen can be a pressurised situation, so knowing what you are doing is incredibly important if you are handling or preparing food. A food hygiene course is a great way to learn all you need to know about how to identify potential dangers, minimise the risks and keep yourself, your colleagues and your customers safe from the effects of undercooked food.

 

Most people think that they observe good hygiene practices in their kitchens at home, but many would admit that they stretch the rules when it comes to cooking for themselves and their families. Tasting your food from the spoon you're using to stir it, not washing your hands after every cough or sneeze, wiping down a surface with a sponge instead of anti-bacterial spray – these are all fairly common infractions which are relatively harmless in the context of your home kitchen when cooking for your family or friends.

However, there is no substitute for following the rules when it comes to preparing food professionally and adhering to best practice in all matters is an absolute must. To understand the principles behind the advice on how best to maintain high standards of cleanliness and safety in a kitchen, food hygiene training is ideal. Whilst your family and friends will probably never suffer from the minor bending of the rules in your kitchen, cooking on a larger scale for a business is a completely different matter. The food you prepare may well be stored, packaged, reheated or served to someone who is susceptible to illness. Not following the rules can increase the likelihood that the food could make someone ill. There is also the issue of cross-contamination, which can easily happen in a busy kitchen where large quantities of food are being prepared by a number of different people at varying times. Observing proper hygiene practices is vital to ensure that you don't put those eating the food at risk and also to protect the safety of your co-workers and business owners.

For anyone who isn't sure why and how to ensure that they are keeping their workplace as clean and safe as possible, food hygiene training is a great way to learn. You can find out just what happens when food isn't stored properly, how best to organise your workspace to ensure that you aren't taking needless risks with cross-contamination and the best way to avoid any danger of someone contracting food poisoning.

Whilst it can be tempting to take short cuts, food hygiene training will show that there is no substitute for observing proper processes and taking responsibility for maintaining high standards. A workforce that understands the importance of keeping their environment clean and safe will be able to ensure that the food they produce is safe as well as tasty.

   

Whenever you prepare food, there are safety issues to be taken into consideration. And this is never truer than when you are in a professional kitchen. Being responsible for making food which will be sold to members of the public, served to individuals in the course of their work or provided to those who need extra care is an important role.

You need to know that you can be completely confident that the conditions in which you are working are safe in order to allow your creativity to shine through. There is no point perfecting the art of making a soufflé if you are using produce which is past its sell-by date. And you could cook the most perfect dessert but if it's stored incorrectly it will still taste bad. Knowing that you are using ingredients which have been stored correctly and equipment which is cleaned to high standards is the only way to be sure that the food you are producing is top quality, no matter how much thought you put into the recipes.

The best way to ensure you can have this level of confidence in your environment is to know that everyone around you has attended a food hygiene course. This will mean that they all understand the basic principles of food safety, which include how to handle and store ingredients, how to keep the kitchen clean and tidy, the best way to store prepared food and a host of other important safety information. When everyone has undergone the same training, it is much easier to be confident that they will all be able to spot any flaws in your processes.

From rotating stock to cleaning up spills and managing rubbish removal, there are plenty of areas which can contribute to a kitchen's cleanliness. Having staff who are all helping to identify potential risks and eliminate them before any harm can be caused can help you to avoid the kinds of problems which could ruin your company's reputation and, more importantly, do someone serious harm.

Proper training is your best weapon in the fight against contamination, food poisoning and other dangers. A kitchen full of staff who have taken a food hygiene course is a safe one. If you want to be able to concentrate on preparing delicious dishes and coming up with creative new ways to use ingredients, then you want to be sure that everything else is in order.

 

New health and safety regulations came into force on the 11th May which control sharp instruments in the healthcare sector.

Titled the Health and Safety Sharp Instruments in Healthcare Regulations, they have been brought in to implement a European directive and will be in addition to the current health and safety legislation, which requires that employers control the risk of sharps and injuries caused by these instruments.

These new regulations state that employers working in the healthcare sector will be required to:

·         Ensure that there are effective arrangements for the safe use and disposal of sharps

·         Ensure necessary training and information is available for workers

·         Take action and investigate any work related injuries from sharps

However, these new health and safety regulations will only apply if you are an employer whose primary work is the management or organisation of healthcare, or you are a contractor working for a healthcare employer whose staff may be at risk from injury from sharps.

The existing legislation on the control and management of sharps for all sectors covers things like the need to carry out risk assessments, provide information and training for staff and consult with workers. However, the new regulations build on this and set out clearer guidelines.

These new regulations only serve to highlight the importance of effective health and safety training across all industries for appropriate subjects. Employers should ensure that workers are effectively trained to work safely with appropriate materials, in this case dealing with sharp instruments. However, it is also important that employers make health and safety training an effective part of daily working life by providing information on safe operating systems, safety guides, posters on safe working, and allow easily accessible information on company websites.

In this new legislation for sharps, regulation six specifies that information should be provided to employees on safety where sharps are concerned and should cover things like:

·         Risks from injuries

·         Legal duties of employers and employees

·         Good practice for injury prevention

Alongside providing effective health and safety training for staff, employers should have effective systems in place which specify what to do in cases of injury. This is another section that applies across all sectors and some specific industries will have to have specific procedures for particularly specialist potential accidents. In the case of the new regulation for Sharps in the healthcare sector, employees must notify the employer as soon as possible of an injury occurring and the employer must have systems in place to enable an employee to do so.

Employers must also record the accident, investigate the circumstances and cause of the accident, and take action to prevent such incidents occurring again.

There are many health and safety regulations for specific industries like the Sharps regulations for healthcare example used above. It is the employer’s duty to effectively ensure that any regulations relating to their industry are followed effectively and that all employees are provided with the opportunity to undertake effective health and safety training. 

Written by Sara Thomson

   

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