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How does the Food Safety Act protect the consumer?

The Food Safety Act (FSA) is a legislation designed to protect consumers and ensure the safety of food products in many countries. While specific regulations may vary between jurisdictions, the general purpose of the FSA is to establish standards and guidelines for food production, processing, handling, and distribution. Some ways in which the Food Safety Act typically protects consumers are discussed in this blog.

What are some of the things you do to keep food safe for your customers?

Some general practices that food establishments typically follow to ensure food safety for their customers include:

  • Adherence to food safety regulations: Food establishments must comply with local food safety regulations and guidelines set by the relevant authorities. This includes following proper hygiene practices, maintaining cleanliness, and implementing appropriate food handling and storage procedures.
  • Staff training and education: Training programs are essential to educate employees about food safety practices, including personal hygiene, proper food handling techniques, and cross-contamination prevention. Staff members are typically trained on how to recognize and respond to potential food safety risks.
  • Proper storage and temperature control: Food establishments must store and handle food at appropriate temperatures to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. This includes refrigerating perishable items, properly freezing and thawing food, and ensuring that hot foods are held at safe temperatures.
  • Regular equipment maintenance: Food establishments need to maintain and clean their equipment, such as refrigerators, ovens, and food preparation surfaces, on a regular basis to prevent contamination. Regular maintenance ensures that equipment is in good working condition and minimises the risk of foodborne illness.
  • Supplier and ingredient selection: Ensuring the safety and quality of ingredients is crucial. Food establishments often establish relationships with trusted suppliers who follow proper food safety practices. They may also conduct regular inspections or request certifications from suppliers to ensure the safety of the ingredients they use.
  • Sanitation practices: Proper sanitation measures, such as regular handwashing, use of sanitizers, and cleaning of utensils and surfaces, are essential to prevent the spread of bacteria and other contaminants.
  • Allergen management: Food establishments often implement procedures to prevent cross-contamination of allergenic ingredients. This may involve separate storage areas, dedicated utensils, and clear labelling of allergens on menu items.
  • Monitoring and documentation: Regular monitoring of food safety practices, such as temperature checks, food sampling, and maintaining records, helps ensure compliance and allows for quick identification and resolution of any issues.
  • Prompt response to issues: If a food safety concern arises, swift action is taken to address the issue, including identifying the source of the problem, recalling affected products if necessary, and implementing corrective measures to prevent future occurrences.

It’s important to note that these practices can vary depending on the specific type of food establishment, local regulations, and the nature of the food being prepared. Food safety is a priority for businesses, and they often employ comprehensive measures to protect the health and well-being of their customers.

What is personal hygiene in food safety?

Personal hygiene is a critical aspect of food safety that focuses on the practices and behaviours of individuals involved in food preparation and handling. It refers to the cleanliness and proper maintenance of one’s body, clothing, and overall appearance to prevent the contamination of food with harmful microorganisms or substances. Personal hygiene plays a vital role in minimising the risk of foodborne illnesses and ensuring the safety of the food that reaches consumers.

Read on to learn more about personal hygiene requirements:

Clothing (personal)

Personal clothing plays a significant role in maintaining proper hygiene in the context of food safety.

Food handlers should wear clean clothing every day they work. Regularly washing and changing into clean clothes helps prevent the accumulation and transfer of dirt, bacteria, and other contaminants to the food.

Depending on the specific requirements of the food establishment, food handlers may be required to wear protective clothing such as aprons, hats, hairnets, or beard nets. These garments help to minimise the risk of contamination by trapping loose hairs, preventing droplet transmission, and creating a physical barrier between the handler and the food.

Clothing should fit properly and cover the body appropriately to prevent direct contact with food. Loose-fitting garments can easily come into contact with food and introduce contaminants. Long hair should be tied back or covered to avoid contact with food and surfaces.

Some food establishments may require specific workwear that is dedicated solely to the work environment and not worn outside. This helps to prevent external contaminants from being brought into the food preparation area.

Food handlers should be mindful of their clothing coming into contact with unclean surfaces or materials that could transfer contaminants. They should avoid sitting or leaning on dirty surfaces and refrain from touching their clothing unnecessarily while handling food.

If clothing becomes soiled or contaminated during work, food handlers should change into clean attire promptly. Soiled clothing should be properly laundered or cleaned before reuse to maintain hygiene standards.

The specific requirements for personal clothing in food handling environments may vary depending on local regulations and the policies of the food establishment. It is important for food handlers to follow the guidelines provided by their employer and regulatory authorities to ensure the highest standards of food safety.

Coughing and Sneezing

Coughing and sneezing can potentially introduce respiratory droplets containing bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens into the surrounding environment, including food preparation areas. It is essential for food handlers to follow proper practices when coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of contaminants. Here are some important guidelines:

  • Cover your mouth and nose
  • Dispose of tissues properly
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds after coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Use protective measures such as wearing a mask or face shield if necessary
  • And arguably the best advice: Stay at home if you are unwell

Facial Cleanliness

Facial cleanliness is another important aspect of personal hygiene in food handling environments. Maintaining a clean face helps to prevent the transfer of contaminants to food and ensures the safety and quality of the products. Here are some considerations regarding facial cleanliness:

Food handlers should wash their face thoroughly before starting work and after any activities that may soil the skin, such as eating, smoking, or touching the face. Use warm water and a mild facial cleanser to remove dirt, oils, and bacteria from the skin.

If a food handler has a beard or facial hair, it should be properly maintained and restrained to minimise the risk of contamination. Food establishments may require the use of beard nets or other suitable coverings to prevent loose hairs from falling into the food.

Food handlers should avoid touching their face unnecessarily while handling food. Touching the face, particularly the mouth, nose, and eyes, can introduce bacteria and other contaminants to the skin and increase the risk of transferring them to food.

Heavy makeup or excessive use of cosmetic products on the face may increase the risk of contaminants transferring to food. Food handlers should use minimal makeup and ensure that it is applied in a hygienic manner.

Maintaining good facial cleanliness can help prevent skin conditions, such as acne or skin infections, which can potentially contribute to the contamination of food. If any skin conditions arise, food handlers should promptly seek appropriate treatment and follow the guidance of healthcare professionals.

In some food handling environments, additional facial protection, such as masks or face shields, may be required to minimise the risk of contaminants reaching the food. Follow the guidelines provided by your employer and local regulations regarding the use of facial protection.

Fitness for work

Fitness for work is an essential aspect when it comes to ensuring the safety and quality of food handling. It refers to the physical and mental condition of individuals that enables them to perform their job duties safely and effectively. In the food industry, it is crucial for employees to be fit for work to prevent the contamination of food and to maintain high standards of food safety. Several key aspects contribute to fitness for work in the context of food handling.

One important aspect of fitness for work is physical well-being. Food handlers should be in good physical health and free from any communicable diseases that may pose a risk to food safety. They need to be capable of carrying out their job duties without compromising the safety and hygiene of the food they handle. Regular health check-ups and adherence to hygiene practices contribute to ensuring physical well-being.

Personal hygiene is another critical factor in fitness for work. Food handlers must maintain proper personal hygiene to prevent the transfer of contaminants to the food they handle. This includes regular bathing, handwashing, and the cleanliness of clothing. By adhering to hygienic practices, food handlers minimise the risk of introducing harmful bacteria or other pathogens into the food.

The absence of symptoms is an essential aspect of fitness for work. Food handlers should not exhibit symptoms such as fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, jaundice, or other signs of illness that could indicate a potential risk of spreading pathogens to food or coworkers. It is important for employees to report any symptoms to their supervisors and refrain from handling food until they have fully recovered. This helps prevent the contamination of food and protects the health of both customers and coworkers.

Fitness for work also includes injury prevention. Food handlers should be free from open wounds, cuts, or other conditions that may require bandaging or protective coverings to prevent contamination of food. Ensuring that employees are free from injuries and maintaining a safe working environment contributes to food safety and prevents the risk of physical contaminants in the food.

Mental and emotional well-being is another aspect of fitness for work. Food handlers need to be mentally and emotionally fit to carry out their responsibilities effectively. They should be capable of maintaining focus and attention to detail, as well as managing stress effectively. Mental and emotional well-being plays a crucial role in ensuring proper food handling practices and making sound decisions that contribute to food safety.

Food handlers with medical conditions or those who are taking medications that could impact their ability to handle food safely should notify their supervisors or management. Certain medications or medical conditions may require special accommodations or restrictions to ensure food safety. Proper communication and management of medical conditions contribute to fitness for work and minimise potential risks associated with compromised food handling abilities.

Hair and Scalp Hygiene

Some important guidelines regarding hair and scalp hygiene are:

Properly restrain your hair to prevent loose hairs from falling into the food. Depending on the specific requirements of the food establishment, hair can be restrained using hairnets, hats, caps, or other suitable coverings. These coverings help to contain loose hairs and minimise the risk of contamination.

Maintain clean hair and scalp by regularly washing and shampooing. Clean hair reduces the presence of oils, dirt, and other substances that can potentially contaminate food.

Avoid touching your hair unnecessarily while handling food. Touching the hair can transfer oils, sweat, and potential contaminants to the hands, which can then be transferred to the food.

Excessive use of hair products, such as gels, oils, or sprays, should be avoided in food handling areas because these products can potentially contaminate food if they come into contact with it.

Proper hair care, including brushing or combing, can help prevent the accumulation of loose hairs and keep the hair in good condition. Regular maintenance of hair reduces the likelihood of hair shedding during food preparation.

Promptly address any scalp conditions, such as dandruff or infections, by seeking appropriate treatment. Treating these conditions helps maintain a clean and healthy scalp and minimises the risk of transferring contaminants to food.

If hair accessories, such as hair nets or caps, are used, they should be regularly cleaned and replaced as necessary to maintain hygiene standards.

To download a FREE Personal Hygiene Checklist Poster for your workplace, click here.


Handwashing is one of the most important practices in maintaining food safety and preventing the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses. Proper hand washing removes dirt, pathogens, and other contaminants from the hands, reducing the risk of cross-contamination.

Food handlers should wash their hands at crucial times, including before starting work, after using the restroom, after handling raw food (such as meat, poultry, or seafood), after touching garbage or cleaning materials, after handling money, and after touching their face, hair, or body.

Follow these steps for effective handwashing, and download our FREE poster to remind yourself and others in the workplace:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), and apply soap
  2. Rub your hands together to create a lather. Scrub your hands for at least 40 seconds., which is about the same amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  3. To clean between your fingers, use one hand to rub the back of the other hand while paying special attention to the spaces between your fingers.
  4. Rub your hands together and clean between your fingers
  5. Place the fingers of each hand together with the backs of your fingers against the opposite palm. Rub your fingertips together and then rub the back of your fingers against your palms to clean them.
  6. Clean one thumb by rubbing it with your other hand, and then repeat the process for the other thumb.
  7. Rub the tips of your fingers against the palm of your opposite hand, and repeat the process with the other hand.
  8. Clean one wrist by rubbing it with the other hand. Repeat with the other wrist.
  9. Use clean, running water to rinse your hands thoroughly.
  10. After rinsing your hands, dry them completely with a disposable towel. Use the same towel to turn off the tap, if possible, to prevent re-contamination of your hands.

Food handlers should also keep nails short and clean to avoid the accumulation of dirt and bacteria, and avoid wearing artificial nails or nail polish as they can harbour bacteria. Pay attention to the cleanliness of hands, including between fingers and around nails, during handwashing.

After handwashing, use a paper towel, clean towel, or air dry hands properly. Turn off faucets using a paper towel or a different method that avoids recontamination of clean hands.

Handwashing should be practised even when gloves are used. Gloves can develop microtears or become contaminated during use, making hand washing necessary before and after glove use.

Employers should provide proper training to food handlers on effective handwashing techniques and reinforce the importance of hand hygiene regularly. Post signs (like our FREE poster) or reminders in appropriate areas to encourage and remind employees to wash their hands correctly.

Click this link to download a FREE ‘Safe Handwashing Steps’ Poster.

Nail Hygiene

As mentioned, nail hygiene is an important aspect of personal cleanliness and contributes to overall food safety. Proper nail hygiene helps prevent the accumulation of dirt, bacteria, and other contaminants that can potentially contaminate food. Follow the following advice regarding nail hygiene:

  • Keep nails short and neatly trimmed to minimise the risk of dirt and bacteria accumulating under the nails.
  • Avoid wearing artificial nails or nail extensions as they can harbour bacteria and are more difficult to clean effectively.
  • Regularly clean and scrub the area under the nails using a nail brush or similar tool, to help remove dirt, bacteria, and other debris that can accumulate.
  • Avoid biting or chewing nails to avoid introducing additional bacteria from the mouth to the hands and nails
  • Avoid excessive nail polish to reduce potential contamination risks, and ensure that any nail polish is in good condition.
  • Pay close attention to cleaning around and under the nails during handwashing (see above).
  • Even when wearing gloves, nail hygiene remains important. Ensure nails are clean and trimmed before putting on gloves to reduce the risk of tearing the gloves or transferring contaminants.

You can download our FREE Personal Hygiene Checklist Poster to put up in your workplace by clicking this link.

Foods that can cause foodborne illness

There are several types of foods that have been associated with foodborne illnesses due to contamination with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins. Some common examples of foods to be cautious of include:

  • Raw or undercooked meat: such as beef, poultry, pork, and lamb, can contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter. It is important to cook meat thoroughly to kill these pathogens.
  • Raw or undercooked seafood: including fish, shellfish (such as oysters, clams, and mussels), and sushi, can contain bacteria, parasites, or viruses that may cause foodborne illness. Proper cooking or appropriate processing methods like freezing can help eliminate these hazards.
  • Raw eggs and egg products: like homemade mayonnaise or certain desserts (e.g., raw cookie dough), can be contaminated with Salmonella. It is recommended to cook eggs thoroughly to reduce the risk.
  • Raw or unpasteurized dairy products: milk and dairy products made from raw milk, such as soft cheeses (e.g., feta, brie, and camembert), can contain harmful bacteria like Listeria, Salmonella, and E. coli. It is advisable to consume pasteurised dairy products to minimise the risk.
  • Raw sprouts: including alfalfa, mung bean, clover, and radish sprouts, are known to be associated with bacterial contamination, particularly Salmonella and E. coli. Cooking sprouts thoroughly can help reduce the risk.
  • Pre-cut fruits and vegetables: may be susceptible to contamination if not handled and stored properly. Bacteria like Salmonella and Listeria can potentially contaminate these products, leading to foodborne illness. Ensure proper refrigeration and hygiene when consuming pre-cut produce.
  • Unpasteurized juices and ciders: particularly those produced on a small scale or sold in farm stands, can carry pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella. It is advisable to choose pasteurised juices and ciders for safety.
  • Processed meats: such as deli meats, hot dogs, and sausages, have been associated with bacterial contamination, including Listeria. It is important to handle and store processed meats properly and consume them before their expiration date.

There are other examples – so make sure you educate yourself of the dangers of foods that you use in your business.

To download Learn Q’s FREE ‘5 Types of Food Contamination’ Poster by clicking here.

Foods contaminated by unwashed hands

Unwashed hands can potentially contaminate various types of foods with harmful bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens. Foods that are particularly susceptible to contamination from unwashed hands include:

Fruits and vegetables that are typically consumed raw, such as salads, sliced fruits, and leafy greens, can be contaminated when handled with unwashed hands. Pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli, and norovirus can be transferred to the produce, especially if it has not been thoroughly washed before consumption.

Foods that are not further cooked before consumption, like sandwiches, wraps, sushi, or deli salads, can become contaminated if prepared or handled with unwashed hands. Bacteria like Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, or Listeria monocytogenes can be transferred to these foods, leading to foodborne illnesses.

Baked goods, pastries, or desserts that are handled during preparation or serving with unwashed hands can be at risk of contamination. Pathogens like Staphylococcus aureus can multiply on these products if proper hand hygiene is not practised.

Pre-cut or pre-packaged fruits and vegetables, such as fruit cups, salad mixes, or veggie trays, can be contaminated if touched with unwashed hands. These foods are often consumed without further cooking, making it important to handle them with clean hands.

Ice used in beverages or drinks prepared with unwashed hands can introduce contaminants. When handling ice or drinks, it is important to ensure hands are clean to avoid transferring bacteria or viruses to these items.

Foods used as garnishes or toppings, such as herbs, spices, grated cheese, or sliced lemons, can be contaminated if handled with unwashed hands. Proper hand hygiene should be practised when handling these items to avoid potential contamination.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are important components of a healthy diet, providing essential nutrients and vitamins. However, they can also be a potential source of foodborne illnesses if not handled and consumed safely. You should take care to:

Choose fruits and vegetables that are fresh, free from bruises, cuts, or signs of spoilage. Avoid purchasing produce that appears mouldy, damaged, or overly ripe.

Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables, including those with skins or peels that are not typically consumed, such as melons or citrus fruits. Use clean, running water to rinse the produce, gently rubbing it to remove any dirt or debris. This helps remove surface contaminants, including bacteria and pesticide residues.

Use clean cutting boards and utensils when preparing fruits and vegetables. It is recommended to have separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry, and seafood to prevent cross-contamination.

Store fruits and vegetables at the appropriate temperature. Some fruits and vegetables, like berries, leafy greens, and cut produce, may require refrigeration to maintain freshness and reduce the risk of bacterial growth. Follow specific storage recommendations for each type of produce to ensure quality and safety.

Pre-cut or pre-packaged fruits and vegetables can provide convenience, but they also have a higher risk of contamination due to additional handling. Ensure they are stored properly and consumed before their expiration date. If the packaging is damaged or shows signs of spoilage, it is best to avoid them.

Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilisers. While organic produce can have many benefits, including reduced exposure to chemical residues, it is still important to follow proper food safety practices, such as washing, to minimise the risk of bacterial contamination.

If consuming fruits and vegetables from home gardens or community gardens, take precautions to ensure safe handling. Wash homegrown produce thoroughly and avoid using excessive amounts of fertilisers or pesticides that can leave residues.

When serving fruits and vegetables at events or gatherings, ensure they are properly washed and protected from potential contamination, such as keeping them covered and maintaining proper temperatures.

Raw eggs

Raw eggs can pose a risk of foodborne illness if not handled and consumed safely. They may contain bacteria like Salmonella, which can cause symptoms such as diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, fever, and vomiting. Remember these raw eggs guidelines:

  • Cook eggs thoroughly
  • Avoid raw egg products
  • Store eggs in the refrigerator at or below 40°F (4°C) to inhibit bacterial growth and avoid storing eggs near foods that are consumed raw, to prevent potential cross-contamination.
  • Ensure proper hand hygiene (see above)
  • Check for freshness before using eggs
  • Use pasteurised eggs or egg products (pasteurised eggs in the UK have the lion symbol)

Note: Certain populations, such as pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems, are more susceptible to foodborne illnesses. It is especially important for these individuals to avoid consuming raw eggs or dishes containing raw eggs.

Raw foods of animal origin

Raw foods of animal origin, including meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs, carry a higher risk of foodborne illnesses if not handled and cooked properly. Whenever you handle raw foods of animal origin you should keep the following in mind:

Store raw animal products in the refrigerator or freezer at appropriate temperatures to prevent bacterial growth. Follow recommended storage guidelines to maintain freshness and quality.

Keep raw animal products separate from ready-to-eat foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and cooked items, to avoid cross-contamination. Use separate cutting boards, utensils, and plates for raw and cooked foods.

Cooking raw animal products to safe internal temperatures kills harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer to ensure proper cooking. For example:

  • Poultry (including ground poultry): Cook to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
  • Ground meats (beef, pork, veal, lamb): Cook to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
  • Whole cuts of meats (beef, pork, veal, lamb, and seafood): Cook to specific safe internal temperatures depending on the type of meat. Refer to reliable sources for precise temperature guidelines.
  • Eggs: Cook until both the yolk and white are firm.
  • Avoiding raw or undercooked preparations: Minimise the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products. This includes dishes like raw or rare steak, raw fish (sushi), raw oysters, raw or undercooked eggs, and dishes containing raw or partially cooked eggs.

You can download our FREE kitchen temperatures poster by clicking here.

  • Practise proper hand hygiene by washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling raw animal products. Clean and sanitise surfaces, utensils, and equipment that come into contact with raw animal products to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Avoid consuming raw or unpasteurized dairy products, including milk, cheese, and ice cream, as they can contain harmful bacteria. Choose pasteurised dairy products to minimise the risk of foodborne illnesses.
  • As with eggs, keep in mind that some populations are more vulnerable and you should take extra caution to ensure that raw animal products are cooked thoroughly for these individuals.

Raw meat and poultry

Raw meat and poultry can also carry harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli. Here are some important points:

  • Store raw meat and poultry in the refrigerator or freezer at appropriate temperatures, keep them separate from other foods, and follow recommended storage guidelines to maintain freshness and prevent bacterial growth.
  • Use separate cutting boards, utensils, and plates for raw meat and poultry to prevent cross-contamination with other foods. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water after handling raw meat or poultry to avoid spreading bacteria.
  • Practise good hygiene when handling raw meat and poultry. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling. Avoid touching other surfaces or items, such as kitchen tools or ready-to-eat foods, while handling raw meat or poultry.
  • Cook raw meat and poultry to safe internal temperatures using a food thermometer to ensure that harmful bacteria are killed. Safe internal temperatures for various meats include:
  • Ensure you cook at the right temperatures:
    • Poultry (whole or ground): Cook to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
    • Ground meats (beef, pork, veal, lamb): Cook to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
    • Whole cuts of meats (beef, pork, veal, lamb): Cook to specific safe internal temperatures depending on the type of meat. Refer to reliable sources for precise temperature guidelines.

You can download our FREE kitchen temperatures poster by clicking here.

  • Minimise the consumption of rare or undercooked meat and poultry, as they may not reach the necessary internal temperature to kill bacteria. Avoid dishes like rare steak, undercooked hamburgers, or poultry with pink or raw parts.
  • Handle raw meat and poultry juices carefully to prevent cross-contamination. Clean and sanitise any surfaces, utensils, or plates that come into contact with raw meat or poultry juices.
  • Clean cutting boards, knives, and other utensils used for raw meat and poultry with hot, soapy water or place them in the dishwasher to ensure thorough cleaning and sanitation.

Raw shellfish

Raw shellfish, such as oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops, can pose a higher risk of foodborne illnesses if not handled and consumed safely. They can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or toxins that can cause gastrointestinal illnesses. Here are important considerations regarding raw shellfish:

  • Buy shellfish from reputable suppliers or retailers who follow proper handling and storage practices. Choose shellfish that have been harvested and handled under safe conditions.
  • Choose shellfish that are alive at the time of purchase. Discard any shellfish with broken or damaged shells or those that do not close when tapped, as they may be unsafe to consume.
  • Keep live shellfish refrigerated at temperatures between 32F and 45°F (0°C and 7°C). Do not store shellfish in airtight containers or submerged in water, as this can suffocate them. It’s best to consume them as soon as possible after purchase.
  • Remember that individuals with compromised immune systems, pregnant women, young children, and the elderly are more susceptible to foodborne illnesses. They should avoid consuming raw shellfish and opt for cooked shellfish instead.
  • In addition, people with underlying health conditions, weakened immune systems, or liver disorders should consult with their healthcare provider regarding the consumption of shellfish, even when cooked.
  • Safe handling and preparation:
    • Discard any shellfish with open or cracked shells before cooking or consuming.
    • Rinse live shellfish under cold running water to remove mud or debris.
    • Use a stiff brush to scrub the shells thoroughly before cooking or shucking.
    • Cook shellfish thoroughly to ensure that harmful bacteria and viruses are destroyed.
    • Avoid eating raw shellfish: Raw shellfish, such as raw oysters, have a higher risk of bacterial contamination. It is recommended to cook shellfish thoroughly to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. Cooking methods, such as steaming, boiling, or frying, can help eliminate harmful pathogens.

Unpasteurized cider

Unpasteurized cider refers to cider that has not undergone pasteurisation, a process of heating to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, or Cryptosporidium, which can cause gastrointestinal illnesses, and extend the shelf life of the product. It can potentially carry harmful bacteria and pose a risk of foodborne illnesses. Follow these guidelines:

  • As above, be careful of certain groups of people, such as pregnant women (alcohol isn’t really the best choice for pregnancy anyway), young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.
  • Safe handling and storage:
    • Buy cider from trusted suppliers who follow proper sanitation and quality control measures.
    • Look for cider that is fresh, without signs of spoilage or fermentation. Discard any cider that appears cloudy, has an off-putting odour, or shows signs of fermentation.
    • Keep cider refrigerated at temperatures below 45°F (7°C) to inhibit bacterial growth.
    • Consume it within the recommended time frame indicated by the manufacturer or retailer.

Unpasteurized fruit juices

Unpasteurized fruit juices refer to juices that have not undergone pasteurisation, and has similar guidance to unpasteurized cider (above)

Unpasteurized milk

Unpasteurized, or raw milk, refers to milk that has not undergone pasteurisation (see above) As with cider and fruit juices, unpasteurized milk can potentially carry harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, or Campylobacter which pose a risk of foodborne illnesses.

The sale of unpasteurized milk is regulated and may be restricted or illegal in some jurisdictions due to safety concerns. It is essential to follow local laws and regulations regarding the sale and consumption of raw milk.

Pasteurised milk, which is widely available in supermarkets and other retail outlets, is considered a safer alternative because it is free from harmful bacteria and is less likely to cause foodborne illnesses.

If you do choose to consume unpasteurized milk, it is crucial to be fully informed. Understand the source of the milk, including the farm and their practices, and assess the risks associated with consuming raw milk.

  • Safe handling and storage:
    • Obtain raw milk from reputable farmers or producers who follow strict hygiene practices and ensure the health of their dairy animals.
    • Keep raw milk refrigerated at temperatures below 45°F (7°C) to inhibit bacterial growth.
    • Consume it within the recommended time frame indicated by the producer or farmer.

As with unpasteurized cider and fruit juices, certain groups of people, such as pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are recommended not to consume unpasteurized milk.

Safe food preparation guide

To ensure safe food preparation, minimise the risk of foodborne illnesses and protect your customers, it is important to follow a set of guidelines.

Keep food preparation surface clean

Keeping food preparation surfaces clean is crucial to prevent cross-contamination and ensure food safety. Here is some guidance to follow:

  • Choose appropriate surfaces for food preparation, such as cutting boards, countertops, or worktables made of materials that are non-porous, smooth, and easy to clean. Avoid using surfaces with cracks, crevices, or porous materials that can harbour bacteria.
  • Clean food preparation surfaces before and after each use to remove any dirt, debris, or leftover food particles. Use hot, soapy water and a clean cloth or sponge to scrub the surface thoroughly. Pay attention to corners, edges, and any areas that might be difficult to clean.
  • After cleaning, sanitise the food preparation surface to kill any remaining bacteria. Use an appropriate sanitising solution, such as a mixture of 1 tablespoon of unscented chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Apply the solution to the surface and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing with clean water. Alternatively, use a commercial sanitising product following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Use separate cleaning tools for different areas, such as a specific cutting board brush or cloth. Avoid using the same tools for cleaning other surfaces, such as sinks or floors, to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Ensure that cleaning agents or sanitizers used on food preparation surfaces are safe for food contact and do not leave harmful residues. Follow instructions for use and rinse surfaces thoroughly after sanitising to remove any residual cleaning agents.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain food preparation surfaces to ensure they remain in good condition. Repair or replace any damaged or worn surfaces that may be difficult to clean effectively.
  • Clean up spills and messes immediately to prevent bacterial growth and the spread of contaminants. Use disposable towels or absorbent materials to soak up liquids before cleaning the surface thoroughly.
  • Store cleaning supplies in a separate area away from food preparation surfaces to avoid accidental contamination. Ensure that cleaning tools are cleaned and sanitised regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria on them.

Keep food environment clean

Here are guidelines for maintaining a clean food environment:

  • Establish a routine cleaning schedule to maintain cleanliness throughout the food environment. Clean all surfaces, equipment, utensils, and storage areas regularly using appropriate cleaning agents and sanitizers.
  • Keep the food environment free of unnecessary items and clutter, which can harbour dust, pests, and bacteria. Maintain a well-organised space to facilitate cleaning and minimise potential contamination sources.
  • Dispose of food waste promptly and properly in designated waste bins. Regularly empty and clean waste containers to prevent odour, pest infestations, and bacterial growth.
  • Clean and sanitise floors and walls regularly to remove dirt, spills, and potential contaminants. Use appropriate cleaning products and tools suitable for the specific surfaces.
  • Clean and sanitise all cleaning tools and equipment regularly to prevent the spread of bacteria. Rinse and store them in a clean and dry area to avoid bacterial growth.
  • Ensure proper ventilation and air circulation in the food environment. Regularly clean ventilation systems, filters, and exhaust hoods to remove grease, dirt, and odours.
  • Implement effective pest control measures to prevent infestations. Seal entry points, regularly inspect for signs of pests, and promptly address any pest issues to maintain a clean and pest-free environment.
  • Promote proper hand hygiene practices among staff members. Provide handwashing facilities with soap, warm water, and hand towels or hand sanitizer stations for easy access. Encourage regular hand washing before handling food and after using the restroom, handling waste, or touching surfaces prone to contamination.
  • Provide training and education to staff members on proper cleaning and sanitation practices. Ensure they are aware of food safety regulations, guidelines, and best practices to maintain a clean food environment.
  • Conduct regular inspections and audits of the food environment to assess cleanliness, identify areas that require attention, and address any potential food safety issues promptly.

You can download our FREE Kitchen Cleaning Poster by clicking here.

Keep food equipment clean

Follow the guidelines below for keeping food equipment clean:

  • Read manufacturer’s instructions
  • Establish a cleaning schedule
  • If the equipment can be disassembled for cleaning, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for disassembly.
  • Remove food residue before cleaning
  • Use appropriate cleaning agents
  • Follow proper cleaning techniques
  • After cleaning, sanitise the equipment
  • Thoroughly dry the equipment after cleaning and sanitising
  • Regularly inspect the equipment for any signs of wear, damage, or malfunction
  • Train staff
  • Document cleaning activities

Separate raw and cooked

Separating raw and cooked foods is another way to prevent cross-contamination and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. Some useful guidelines are:

  • Use separate cutting boards
  • Have separate utensils and equipment
  • Store raw meats, poultry, and seafood separately from cooked foods, fruits, and vegetables in the refrigerator
  • Prevent cross-contamination in storage
  • Use different food preparation areas (if possible)
  • Ensure proper hand hygiene
  • Use separate utensils, such as tongs or forks, for turning or flipping raw meats or poultry during cooking
  • Do not place cooked foods back on the same plate that held raw foods without proper cleaning.

Storing food safely

Storing food safely is crucial for maintaining its quality, preventing spoilage, and reducing the risk of illnesses. Some excellent advice is:

  • Keep your refrigerator temperature at or below 40°F (4°C) to slow down the growth of bacteria. Use a refrigerator thermometer to monitor the temperature regularly.
  • Set your freezer temperature at 0°F (-18°C) or below to keep food frozen solid and maintain its quality. Use a freezer thermometer to ensure the temperature remains consistent.
  • Use airtight containers or resealable bags to store perishable foods in the refrigerator or freezer. Make sure the containers are clean and in good condition to maintain food quality and prevent cross-contamination.
  • Practise the “first in, first out” (FIFO) principle. Place newly purchased or prepared items behind older ones in the refrigerator or pantry. This ensures that older items are used or consumed first, reducing the risk of spoilage.
  • As above, store raw meats, poultry, and seafood separately from cooked foods, fruits, and vegetables. This prevents cross-contamination and the transfer of bacteria from raw to cooked items.
  • Cover or wrap food securely to protect it from air, moisture, and potential contaminants. This helps maintain its freshness and prevents odours from spreading to other foods.
  • Use designated compartments in the refrigerator for specific food items. Keep raw meats, poultry, and seafood on the lower shelves to prevent any drips or juices from contaminating other foods.
  • Refer to specific storage recommendations for different types of produce. Remove any spoiled or mouldy pieces to prevent the spread of spoilage.
  • Label containers or packages with the contents and date of storage to track freshness and ensure timely use. This is particularly important for leftovers or foods that have been repackaged.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly within two hours of cooking to prevent bacterial growth. Divide large portions into smaller containers for quicker cooling and reheating.
  • Store canned goods in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Check for any signs of bulging, leakage, or damage before use and discard any cans that appear compromised.
  • Pay attention to recommended storage times for different types of foods. Discard perishable items that exceed their recommended storage duration to maintain food safety.
  • Avoid overcrowding the refrigerator or pantry, as it can impede proper air circulation and cooling. Maintain an organised and clutter-free storage space to facilitate proper storage and easy access.

Cook food thoroughly

Cooking food thoroughly is essential for killing harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites that may be present in raw or undercooked foods.

Use a reliable food thermometer to check the internal temperature of cooked foods. This ensures that they have reached a safe temperature to kill harmful microorganisms. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the food, away from bones or fat, for an accurate reading.

Cook different types of food to their specific safe internal temperatures. Some general guidelines are:

  • Poultry (including ground poultry): Cook to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
  • Ground meats (beef, pork, veal, lamb): Cook to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
  • Whole cuts of meats (beef, pork, veal, lamb, and seafood): Cook to specific safe internal temperatures depending on the type of meat. Refer to reliable sources for precise temperature guidelines.
  • Fish: Cook until the flesh is opaque and easily flakes with a fork.
  • Eggs: Cook until both the yolk and white are firm.
  • Uniform cooking: Ensure that the food is cooked uniformly throughout. Use appropriate cooking methods, such as baking, roasting, grilling, boiling, or frying, to ensure even cooking.

Minimise the consumption of rare or undercooked foods, especially meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. These items may not reach the necessary internal temperature to kill bacteria. Cook them thoroughly to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.

When reheating leftovers, ensure they are heated to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to kill any bacteria that might have grown during storage. Stir the food well and heat it evenly to eliminate cold spots.

Adhere to the recommended cooking times and temperatures provided when following recipes. These guidelines are often based on food safety considerations and optimal cooking results.

Thicker cuts of meat or larger food items may require longer cooking times to ensure that the centre reaches the safe internal temperature. Adjust cooking times accordingly to ensure thorough cooking.

Some foods, such as poultry, ground meats, and casseroles, may continue to cook after removal from the heat source due to residual heat. Allow for proper resting time before serving to ensure the food is fully cooked.

Employ proper cooking techniques to minimise the risk of foodborne illnesses. For example, avoid using the same cutting board or utensils for raw and cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination.

Keep and serve food at safe temperatures

Keeping and serving food at safe temperatures can also help to keep your customers safe. You should:

  • Keep hot foods at or above 140°F (60°C) to prevent bacterial growth. Use hot holding equipment such as chafing dishes, warming trays, or slow cookers to maintain the temperature. Monitor the temperature regularly with a food thermometer and adjust the heat source as needed.
  • Keep cold foods at or below 40°F (4°C) to slow down bacterial growth. Use refrigeration equipment, such as refrigerators or coolers, to maintain the temperature. Keep cold foods on ice beds or in insulated containers during outdoor events or buffet-style setups.
  • Cook or reheat food to the appropriate safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to ensure that the food reaches the minimum safe temperature, which is typically 165°F (74°C) for most cooked foods.
  • Refrigerate perishable foods promptly, ideally within two hours of preparation or purchase. If the ambient temperature is above 90°F (32°C), refrigerate within one hour. Store cold foods in refrigerators set at or below 40°F (4°C).
  • When serving food buffet-style, use chafing dishes, warming trays, or other equipment to keep hot foods hot. Place cold foods on ice beds or in insulated containers to maintain their temperature. Ensure that there is a continuous supply of fresh hot or cold food to replace items that have been sitting out for too long.
  • Avoid leaving perishable foods at room temperature for an extended period. Discard any food that has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours (or one hour if the temperature is above 90°F/32°C).
  • Regularly monitor the temperature of food during storage or service. Use food thermometers to check the temperature of hot and cold foods. Discard any food that falls into the “danger zone” between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C) for more than two hours.
  • When reheating leftovers or cooked food, ensure they reach a minimum internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) throughout. This helps eliminate any potential bacteria that may have grown during storage.
  • When transporting food, use insulated coolers or thermal bags to maintain cold temperatures. Use hot packs or insulated containers to keep hot foods hot during transit.
  • Train staff members on proper food temperature control and handling procedures. Educate guests about the importance of safe food temperatures, especially when serving themselves at buffets or potluck gatherings.

Use safe food and raw materials

Using safe food and raw materials is crucial for ensuring the quality and safety of the final prepared dishes. Our guidelines are:

  • Obtain food and raw materials from reputable suppliers, grocery stores, or farmers’ markets that follow proper food safety and handling practices.
  • Inspect food and raw materials before purchasing or using them. Look for signs of spoilage, such as foul odours, mould, discoloration, or abnormal texture and choose fresh ingredients that appear in good condition.
  • Check expiration or “best by” dates on packaged foods or raw materials and stick to them.
  • Store food and raw materials according to their specific storage requirements and follow recommended temperature settings for refrigeration, freezing, or dry storage.
  • Do not use food or raw materials with damaged, bulging, or compromised packaging.
  • Be aware of common food allergens, such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy. Take precautions to prevent cross-contact between allergenic and non-allergenic ingredients. Clean and sanitise utensils, equipment, and surfaces properly to avoid allergen transfer.

You can download our FREE allergens poster by clicking here.

  • Maintain good personal hygiene, including regular handwashing, proper use of gloves when necessary, and the use of clean utensils and equipment during food preparation.
  • Keep raw and cooked foods separate to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Train staff members on proper food handling practices, including the selection and use of safe food and raw materials.
    Stay updated with food safety guidelines, regulations, and recalls from reputable sources and take necessary precautions.

Food hygiene premises inspections

Preparing for a food hygiene premises inspection is important to ensure that your establishment meets the required food safety standards. Here are some steps you can take to get ready for a food safety inspection:

  • Familiarise yourself with the relevant food safety regulations and guidelines applicable to your location. Stay updated with any recent changes or updates to ensure compliance.
  • Establish comprehensive food safety policies and procedures for your establishment. These should cover areas such as personal hygiene, food handling, cleaning and sanitation, temperature control, allergen management, and pest control.
  • Train your staff on these policies and ensure they understand and follow them consistently.
  • Keep all necessary documentation up to date and readily accessible for the inspector’s review. This may include licences, permits, certificates, training records, cleaning schedules, temperature logs, supplier records, and any other relevant documentation required by local regulations.
  • Regularly perform self-inspections to identify any potential food safety issues and address them proactively. This includes reviewing your establishment’s cleanliness, equipment maintenance, food storage practices, and overall compliance with food safety standards.
  • Pay attention to the proper handling and storage of food items. Ensure that all perishable foods are stored at appropriate temperatures and are properly labelled and dated. Implement a first-in, first-out (FIFO) system to minimise the risk of using expired or spoiled products.
  • Prioritise cleanliness and hygiene in your establishment. Ensure that all food preparation areas, equipment, utensils, and surfaces are regularly cleaned and sanitised. Practise proper personal hygiene, including handwashing, use of gloves, and proper clothing attire for food handlers.
  • Provide regular training to your staff on food safety practices, including proper food handling, personal hygiene, allergen management, and cleaning procedures. Encourage a culture of food safety throughout your establishment.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain your equipment and facilities. Ensure that refrigeration units, ovens, cooking equipment, and other appliances are functioning properly and are regularly serviced and cleaned. Check for any potential maintenance issues that could impact food safety.
  • If there were any previous inspection findings or recommendations, make sure to address them and implement corrective actions. Document these actions and keep records to demonstrate your commitment to continuous improvement.
  • Arrange all necessary documentation, records, and procedures in an organised manner for the inspection. Train your staff to respond professionally to the inspector’s inquiries and provide accurate information. Cooperate fully during the inspection process and address any concerns or recommendations raised by the inspector.

Remember, the primary goal of a food safety inspection is to ensure that your establishment follows proper food handling practices, maintains cleanliness, and safeguards the health and well-being of your customers. By implementing good food safety practices and being prepared for the inspection, you can demonstrate your commitment to food safety and maintain a safe and hygienic food environment.

Food hygiene rating standard

The food hygiene rating standard, also known as the food hygiene rating scheme or food hygiene rating system, is a system used in many countries to assess and communicate the hygiene standards of food establishments to the public. It provides a rating or score based on an inspection of the premises, practices, and procedures related to food safety and hygiene. While specific details may vary by jurisdiction, here is a general overview of the food hygiene rating standard:

It aims to help consumers make informed choices about where to eat or purchase food by providing an indication of the hygiene standards of food establishments. It also serves as an incentive for businesses to maintain high levels of food safety and hygiene.

Qualified food safety inspectors conduct inspections of food establishments, which may include restaurants, cafes, takeaways, pubs, hotels, supermarkets, and other food businesses. Inspectors assess various aspects of the establishment, such as food handling practices, cleanliness, hygiene procedures, staff training, documentation, and compliance with food safety regulations.

After the inspection, establishments are assigned a rating or score that reflects their level of compliance with food hygiene standards. The rating scale may vary depending on the country or region, but it typically includes a range of scores or categories, such as 0 to 5, A to E, or a similar system.

Food establishments are usually required to display their food hygiene rating prominently at their premises, such as in a visible location or window. This allows customers to easily see and consider the hygiene rating when deciding whether to eat or purchase food from the establishment.

In addition to the on-site display, food hygiene ratings are often made available to the public through various channels. This may include online platforms, mobile apps, local authority websites, or other means of communication. Customers can access this information to make informed choices about where to eat or purchase food.

In cases where a food establishment receives a low rating, there is typically an opportunity for reassessment or an appeals process. This allows the establishment to address any concerns, make improvements, and request a revisit to potentially improve their rating.

The food hygiene rating standard is usually backed by regulatory authorities responsible for enforcing food safety regulations. Inspectors have the authority to issue warnings, improvement notices, or take legal action if serious food safety breaches are identified.

It’s important to note that the specifics of the food hygiene rating standard can vary between countries, regions, and local authorities. Therefore, it is advisable to refer to the specific guidelines and regulations of your local jurisdiction for detailed information on how the food hygiene rating system is implemented in your area.

Staff training

Staff training is a crucial aspect of ensuring food safety, maintaining quality standards, and promoting excellent customer service in the food industry. Some suggested courses include:

Food safety and hygiene (including regulatory compliance):
Food Hygiene Level 2
Level 3 Award in Food Safety
Allergen Awareness
HACCP Awareness

Cleaning and sanitation:
COSHH Awareness

Customer service:
Customer Service

Health and safety:
Health and Safety at Work
Fire Safety
Emergency First Aid at Work
Slips Trips and Falls

It is recommended to provide ongoing training opportunities for staff members to enhance their skills and knowledge. This can include refresher courses, workshops, online modules, or participation in industry conferences or seminars. Encourage staff to stay updated with industry trends and advancements.

It is also advisable to maintain records of staff training sessions, including topics covered, dates, and attendance. This documentation helps demonstrate compliance with training requirements and can be useful during audits or inspections.

By providing thorough and regular training, you can equip your staff with the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure food safety, maintain quality standards, deliver exceptional service to your customers and crucially – keep them safe!

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In recent years, schools have had to follow regulations that ensure that children are given access to healthy meals. Therefore, the school menu has changed and that means that children are given the option of eating more fruit and vegetables. Each meal they have has to contain vegetables while they are also given the option of fruit while refined carbohydrates are also removed from the school menu. In addition to this, items that contain pastry are also limited on the school menu.

Most chefs will want to make sure that they hold all the necessary certifications that prove that they are capable in the kitchen and understand how to handle and prepare food correctly. However, there is no legal requirement for anyone to hold a food hygiene certificate although it is recommended that chefs obtain the certificate as a way of showing that they know what is expected of them when maintaining food safety.

Businesses have a high level of responsibility when it comes to handling and preparing food. Therefore, they should make sure that all risks are managed correctly and that the correct procedures are followed to maintain food safety at all times. However, there are no laws in place that clearly state that those who handle food should have a food hygiene certificate. Despite this, without the certificate, the risk of food safety being overlooked increases and that poses a risk to businesses and consumers.

Yes, you can carry out a level 2 food hygiene course online. This will allow you to study in your own time with the course being completed over a period of three hours. This will then give you a valid certificate and qualification in food hygiene.

It might seem like a natural progression to complete a level 2 course before a level 2 course but this does not have to be the case. It is possible to study certain courses that are at the right level in relation to your job. This could mean that you can obtain a level 3 qualification before you obtain a level 2 qualification. However, some courses will require a prerequisite to be achieved prior to you progressing onto a higher level qualification.

If you want to work in a kitchen then you will not need a food hygiene certificate but you will still need to understand how to maintain a high level of food safety. It is not a legal requirement that you obtain a certificate but it can help to have it as this will show that you have the relevant knowledge required to work safely in a kitchen.

As children are encouraged to drink more water and to ensure that their needs are met, schools are expected to provide drinking water in the UK. Drinking water is a necessity and schools should be able to meet the needs of the children should they not bring their own water into school. 

While there might be an assumption that schools have to provide hot meals, this is not the case.This is because there is no official or legal requirement in place that stipulates that schools have to serve hot meals. The Department for Education has said that hot lunches should be provided where possible although there is no requirement that they have to. 

Schools do not have to provide milk but they for those children who regularly attend pre-school and are under the age of 5 are eligible for free milk as part of the Nursery Milk Scheme. Milk was once offered to all children in school but this changed and now it is only offered to those of nursery age and under the age of five.

Food hygiene certificates are a must for any establishment that produces, prepares or sells food. Therefore, schools that handle, serve and sell food should have a food hygiene certificate in place. As a result, all staff members that are involved in the process should have received the relevant training. Along with this, the kitchen and staff must have been through a food hygiene inspection so that the kitchen can be given a food hygiene rating which will indicate what level of hygiene the kitchen maintains and whether any improvements could be made.

Essentially, the risks associated with the food industry can be reduced by taking a number of steps. To begin with, businesses and operators must have the right training and then they have to identify the risks and ensure that they implement policies and procedures that have to be followed. Then, those who are handling or preparing food must make sure that they follow all the necessary steps and best practices that help them to mitigate the risks and maintain safety.

Risks are a constant threat to the food industry but it is possible to deal with risks when the right processes and management are put in place. Therefore, risk should be managed by creating ways that contamination can be reduced while hygiene should be implemented to help reduce the spread of bacteria and all equipment should be handled safely. The management of risk will not only keep customers safe but it will also protect employees and business owners. 

To ensure safety in schools, the right policies should be implemented to ensure that pupils and staff remain safe. Management should adopt the right leadership to ensure that roles and responsibilities are set out. Risks should be assessed regularly and managed accordingly, ensuring they are minimised or removed. Signage and communication are vital as this does ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them and are able to recognise any potential risks.

There are stages and processes that have to be followed when it comes to food production and handling. It might feel as though you can focus on one of the four Cs more than another but if you take this approach then it means that the remaining three Cs might not be followed. Cross-contamination and cleaning go hand in hand while food has to be stored safely in order for it to be cooked safely. So, you have to make sure that you follow all of the four Cs to maintain a safe work environment.

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