Matt

Matt

Wednesday, 15 January 2020 17:35

How do I obtain a Food Safety certificate?

15.01.20Working in Catering or Manufacturing – preparing, handling and serving food – brings with it a significant degree of responsibility. Poor hygiene and a disregard for the wellbeing of your customers risks the spread of infection and it’s easy to underestimate the potential impact that a food-borne illness could have. Every year in the UK, there are over half a million cases of food poisoning as a result of poor catering practices, such as undercooked food or infection with bacteria. For most customers, food poisoning is extremely unpleasant but for the elderly or children, it can be fatal.

Consequently, it’s unsurprising that the discerning customer will expect caterers to have appropriate Food Safety training. By investing in the professional development of your staff, you can demonstrate your business’ commitment to providing the highest standards to your colleagues and customers. If you’re looking to forge a career in the food industry, then a food safety certificate could put you ahead of your rivals when you are applying to your dream role.

A Food Safety certificate is evidence that you have the appropriate knowledge and understanding of a range of safety and hygiene issues, such as the correct storage and handling of food, the safe use of equipment, the main hazards in food preparation, effective cleaning techniques and the legal framework that applies to caterers.

A certificate can be gained in a variety of ways; for the ultimate in convenience, online food safety training can be completed at an individual’s own time and pace from an accredited provider, but it is also possible to receive training in a ‘classroom-based’ environment. Different types and levels of food safety training courses can be taken, for example, to prepare professionals for working in different environments, such as manufacturing or retail, or to focus on specific risks, such as allergens.

By undertaking Food Safety training, you can demonstrate that you are competent to work within the food industry in a safe and hygienic manner that will consistently put the health and wellbeing of your customers at the heart of your practice, giving consumers and employers absolute confidence in your abilities.

At Magna FHS, we can help you obtain a Food Safety certificate with our online Food Safety training. Click here to find out more.

 

 

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19.12.19

The safety of UK foods can be compromised by a range of hazards, including chemical Food Safety hazards. This occurs when the chemicals found in foods are harmful and could be caused by a variety of factors, including cleaning agents, environmental and agricultural contamination, pest control substances, contamination during manufacturing, additives, or water.

How do high levels of chemicals get into the food chain?

There are many ways chemicals can cause Food Safety hazards. For example, during the growing or animal rearing stages contaminants could be picked up from the soil, water, or air. This could be due to natural effects or may be a deliberate chemical hazard. Some of the most commonly found chemical Food Safety hazards involve toxins from the marine or natural environments, pesticides, antibiotics, mycotoxins caused by food moulds, food additives, cleaning products, and also chemicals that are produced during the food manufacturing processes.

How do food moulds cause mycotoxin hazards?

Mycotoxins are natural chemicals that are produced by some food moulds. They grow on lots of different foods, such as fruits, nuts, spices, cereals and peanuts. Contaminated food given to livestock can also cause mycotoxin hazards.

What about pesticides and marine toxins?

A variety of pesticides are used during the growing and livestock rearing phases. These can accumulate within the food chain if left undetected. The preparation and manufacture of fish products can cause marine toxins to enter the food chain, particularly in areas of the world where strict food hygiene practices are not followed.

Overuse of antibiotics within farming is a common cause of chemical Food Safety hazards

Increased use of antibiotics within the agricultural sector has led to bacteria evolving and being super resistant to it. As a result of this there have been more than 25,000 deaths in Europe in the past year alone. This contamination could happen in many ways, during the slaughter process or even when manure is spread in fields or market gardens

Environmental contaminants are often naturally present

Just some of the chemical hazards commonly found in our natural environment include lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury. All these chemicals can be highly dangerous when consumed in large quantities or concentrated within the meat or fish we purchase.

How do chemical hazards enter foods during manufacturing?

Finally, there are lots of ways harmful chemicals can enter the food chain during the manufacturing

If you'd like to discuss the blog in more detail or have a question please contact us here

 

 

 

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Tuesday, 17 December 2019 14:03

Recall and Withdrawal of Food

17.12.19As part of our Farm to Fork blog series, it’s important to talk about what happens when problems occur. Food recall and withdrawal comes into play when there are issues in the manufacturing line that affect the product. A prime food safety requirement is understanding the difference between the two.

 

 

Recall

Product Recall is when the food is removed from distribution and sale. This is usually due to a health and safety concern be it either contamination or a defect. Recalls are often a result of reports from anyone involved in the farm to fork process. Anyone from the manufacturer to the customer can report defects or problems to health and safety authority. Alternatively, reasons for recalls can be spotted internally which minimises risks to consumers.

In the UK, the Food Standards Agency overseas food processes and has recently recalled products for containing small pieces of plastic or metal which poses a direct risk to the consumer. There has been a rise in the number of recalls in the UK but the Food Standards Agency maintain that this is not a cause for alarm. Their standards and levels of diligence have increased, hence the increase.

Withdrawal

Product Withdrawal refers to the removal of a product from the supply chain for other reasons. It does not have anything to do with health and safety. Reasons for withdrawal include things like product design faults or incorrect labelling. However, if the labelling displayed the wrong ingredients or missed allergen warnings, it would then be recalled. Manufacturers can themselves decide to withdraw their food product if they anticipate a potential risk.

Legalities

In Recall cases, companies are legally required to communicate recall information to the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The company is also responsible for informing the public of the recall. However, when a voluntary withdrawal is made, there are no legal requirements and authorities do not meet to notified but standards should be maintained. Ensuring that efficient and diligent internal checks and testing are maintained will significantly minimise the risk of a product being recalled or withdrawn.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) can issue Product Withdrawal Information Notices and Product Recall Information Notices in the UK to alert consumers and local authorities to any problems associated with food. In extreme cases, a Food Alert for Action can be issued to provide local authorities with specific details of action to be taken on behalf of consumers.

For more information or to discuss further please contact us here

 

 

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13.12.19The recording of wasted food is as vital to the good management of your commercial kitchen’s food safety policies as the recording of fresh and frozen incoming ingredients is. Keeping a record of food waste is also a fast and certain way to pinpoint errors or flaws within your kitchen work-flow system. There are several steps where food waste must be accounted for:

Food must always be checked before it is signed for. Any food that is not of a sufficiently high standard (frozen food beginning to defrost, fresh foods with signs of spoilage, excessively damaged, torn or dirty packaging) can be refused and returned to the driver. This food does not need to be noted as waste as it has not been in the kitchen food system. From the moment food has been signed for, though, it must be accounted for.

Prep stations

Sometimes issues with food are not noted until the food is cut open: for example, lettuce can look fine on delivery, but when sliced open it can possess signs of problems – insects, bite marks, decay. This must be noted on a wastage sheet, with a record of how severe the problem was. This can be used to let suppliers know about ongoing issues with their products if necessary. If they refuse to improve their products, you can change suppliers to a more reliable company, saving money and your reputation.

Cooking bloopers

There is always the risk of spills, mistakes and drops when cooking food in the high-pressure environment of a busy kitchen. Any meals that are made unfit for consumption during the cooking process must be noted on the wastage sheet. This can help to pinpoint errors in the layout of the kitchen, and help to streamline processes should one particular accident happen more often than happenstance would allow.

Left too long

If meals are left under hot lights for too long during a busy time, it might be necessary to scrap and re-make them as the food will become dry and unpalatable. This is not good for customer experience – waiting too long for a meal, even if it is perfectly prepared and fresh from the oven when they do get it, will leave a poor taste in their mouths. Seeing a lot of meals binned because they were left for too long is a sign that table service is lacking and that perhaps a new waiter should be taken on.

Refused by a customer

Occasionally, when a meal is taken to a customer, they will object to it for reasons that can range from the excessively fussy to the potentially life-threatening. In the event of the former, make a note of the wastage and shrug off the loss. In the case of the latter, take this as a sign that your allergy precautions need an instant and thorough overhaul. With allergies, even the tiniest amount of the food can cause severe illness and even death, so any customer mentioning the word ‘allergy’ must be taken very seriously. Seeing too many (or even one) mentions on the waste sheet of ‘meal contained allergen’ should be taken as an indication of a severe problem. This should be a very rare issue, but if it does happen, ensure that everyone in the kitchen is up-to-date with their online food safety training, so they are aware of their responsibilities, and consider bringing in Health and Safety consultants to check your system is fit for purpose.

End of day

Any prepped food must be wasted once it has passed its use-by, hot-hold or cold-hold time limits. These products should be entered on the wastage sheets and used to guide the next day’s preparations to prevent future wastage.

Other occasions

Food inspectors will want to see a list of foods that have been wasted and be able to tie these into the occasional issues suffered by any kitchen. This means that if you have noted that a fridge failed, with the temperature rising to around 10°C for six hours, they will expect to see on the list, dated that day, all the food from the faulty fridge being destroyed to ensure customer safety. Should the two sets of records not match up, they will know that your paperwork is not authentic, which can affect your Food Hygiene Rating.

How to…

As with any internal kitchen system, recording of food waste must be comprehensive and quick – no one in a successful and busy commercial kitchen has time to spend more than a minute or two recording data, especially when this must be done as needed throughout the day. And finally, to ensure that you cut down on even more time, present an environmentally-friendly face to the world and update and maintain detailed records in as small a footprint as possible, consider switching your food waste recording system to an app like DUED in which all your facts and figures can be available with the tap of a button.

For more information or to discuss how Dued can help your business contact us here

 

 

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10.12.19Consumers in the UK deserve the best possible food safety standards from all suppliers in the food chain. However, up to one million consumers do suffer food-borne illnesses each year click here . This makes it absolutely vital to record and comply with food safety regulations throughout the entire food chain.

Farm to Fork Hygiene and Safety Recording for Part Cooked and Ready to Eat Foods

No matter where your food business is situated within the supply chain, there are sure to be legislative requirements in place. Even supplying fresh fruit and vegetables from farms to wholesaler markets or selling them via an onsite farm shop will mean identifying potential chemical or microbiological hazards and removing them to ensure foods are safe for consumers to eat click here. Food safety is not just the responsibility of any end of supply chain food business operator (FBO), although the end-user FBO is required to produce the appropriate Due Diligence Defence records when requested by environmental health officials.

The consultancy team here at Magna FHS Ltd recommend the following steps for safety recording of part cooked and ready to eat foods which are distributed from farms to suppliers or manufacturers and then on to restaurants, supermarkets and end-use consumers:

1. Ready to Eat Foods

Most FBOs supply ready to eat foods in some form or other; including salads, smoked fish, desserts, cheeses, and cooked meats. It's essential that all staff are trained in the correct ways to handle all ready to eat foods and that appropriate due diligence record keeping is in place. Just some of the essential workplace practices any food business operator needs to have in place include:

- Continual requirements for employees to wash hands between routine tasks such as handling raw and ready to eat foods. This will limit the spread of bacteria and allergens.
- Thorough cleaning of all equipment used for raw and ready to eat foods, such as slicers and vacuum packers. Ideally, all tasks connected with the preparation of raw and ready to eat foods should be carried out in separate, disinfected areas using different equipment.
- Chilling all ready to eat foods to required temperatures, and ensuring due diligence records of fridge and freezer temperatures are maintained.
- Washing and peeling all fruit, salads, and vegetables to remove any dirt or bacteria.

Find out more about potential hazards posed by ready to eat foods and recording the steps needed for compliance at Magna FHS Ltd.

2. Part Cooked Foods

It goes without saying that businesses selling or storing part cooked foods need to follow strict guidelines with regard to handling, preparation and reheating. Additional responsibilities include:

- Keeping part cooked foods in a separate refrigerator, freezer or chiller.
- Colour coding all knives, chopping boards and equipment that will be used for any part cooked foods.
- Regular checks on all stored foods, with cook-chill foods kept at temperatures of at least 3ºC and frozen foods stored at temperatures of -18ºC or below. Daily due diligence recording of appropriate temperatures will be required.
- Checking all use-by dates and operating a First in First out system, to ensure compliance with all food date codes.

One of the easiest ways to ensure your food business meets all due diligence requirements is to opt for the new Dued app from Magna FHS. Give us a quick call 07540 872146 or email here to discuss your food business operation in more detail and find out more ways we can help ensure the speediest, most accurate systems are in place for recording the safety procedures in place within your organisation.

 

 

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Wednesday, 04 December 2019 15:36

From Farm to Fork: Cooking and Cooling Foods

04.12.19 CThe safety of the food customers purchase in stores or eat in restaurants is absolutely vital; which means all growers, suppliers, and food outlets need to be conscious about food safety and required legislation. Temperature control can be a tricky aspect of cooking any food if you aren't familiar with how it should be done. Cooking foods and cooling foods is easy once you know how - but until then, food safety could become compromised if you do things wrong.

Compliance when Cooking and Cooling Foods

All UK food businesses need to be registered with applicable local authorities which will entail regular inspections of the premises and potential food hygiene ratings. In addition, most food businesses will require HACCP risk analysis and hazard identification solutions (https://www.magna-fhs.com/news/item/244-what-does-haccp-mean-in-catering) in place in order to demonstrate compliance with food safety legislation and ensure foods can be traced back to sources, such as farmers and growers. Read on to discover some tips that you should keep in mind when cooking and cooling down your food in line with The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013, the Food Hygiene (Wales) Regulations 2006, and the Food Hygiene Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006.

Cooking

When cooking foods, you should aim to follow instructions on the packaging provided. If there is no packaging, always ensure that the oven is preheated before use, and that water is boiling hot when adding rice, pasta or potato to it. This will ensure that heat can get through to the middle as quickly as possible. Here are some general rules of thumb when it comes to cooking foods:

- When storing hot foods, they should be stored above 63-degree Celsius; not doing so will allow bacteria to grow
- Aim to dry vegetables, meats, and legumes before you cook them; this will stop moisture changing the cooking time
- Research what the ideal internal heat of meat should be in order to ensure that the meat isn't raw and thus carrying risks of bacteria. If needs be, invest in a meat thermometer.

Cooling

Following the cooking of your food, if you plan to freeze it then you should let it cool as soon as possible. This is in order to minimise the length of time that bacteria will have to grow on the food's surface. The optimal situation is when food cools to less than 8 degrees celsius in 90 minutes or less. When cooling foods, there are also many other tips that you can follow:

- Cover your food in order to prevent contamination
- Move your food to a part of the kitchen that is away from any sources of heat
- Divide your food into smaller amounts to distribute the heat finer
- Place your food in a shallow dish, for the same reason as above
- For starchy foods like rice and pasta, running cold water can cool it down faster and remove excess starch
- Blow cold air across the surface of the food using a fan
- Place hot foods into a container and keep the container in an ice-water bath

Full Compliance and Traceability on the go

Whether it's related to the regular recording of chiller and freezer temperatures at your food business or the measures taken to reduce risks of cross-contamination of cooked and raw foods, all business owners need to stay up to speed with their legal requirements and learn the most cost-efficient ways of compliance. With the Dued App from Magna FHS, it's much easier to record due diligence and provide full traceability when cooking and cooling food. Find out more by contacting us here

 

 

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Wednesday, 04 December 2019 13:15

From Farm to Fork: Freezing and Reheating Foods

04.12.19This latest blog post in our 'From Farm to Fork' series is focused on explaining the important pieces of information that you should know when freezing or reheating foods. Read on to discover what foods can and can't be frozen, the guidelines surrounding reheating food, and if there is any legislation in place regarding the freezing and reheating of food.

 


Freezing

There are many foods that you can freeze to reuse at a later date. These include:

- Cooked rice and pasta
- Herbs, nuts, and flour
- Meat (either cooked or still raw)
- Sliced bananas
- Bread (either sliced or intact as a loaf)
- Stock and wine
- Butter and flour

Ideally, each piece of food that you're freezing should be kept separately in order to prevent cross-contamination. This is especially important when it comes to raw meat products as, if they're handled incorrectly, it could lead to other food types such as vegetables being dangerous to cook with. Vegetables can often be eaten raw, which can be a food safety worry if they're contaminated with meat juices.

Reheating

Any cooked food that can be frozen will also need to be reheated before consumption. With most foods such as carbohydrates or fruits, if you haven't properly reheated your food then you'll just end up with a somewhat unpleasant crunch in the middle of your meal. This could ruin your meal, but it's not likely to do any harm.

However, in the case of meat-based products, failing to properly reheat your meal could allow bacteria to survive, making improperly reheated meaty meals something of a health risk. When you're reheating a meat product, you need to ensure that it is hot throughout in order to be certain of everyone's safety.

Legislation

The law around food freezing is laid out in the government's Food Safety Practices, which is mostly based around businesses doing their due diligence in terms of freezing food products as soon as they're developed. Freezers strictly need to be kept between -18 and -21 degrees, and raw and cooked food needs to be kept apart. In terms of reheating cooked food, the internal temperature needs to reach 75 degrees for two minutes to ensure all of the bacteria has died.

Paying due diligence when freezing food for later consumption has just become much easier with the HACCP-approved app, Dued. Completely digital, you can access forms and record updates, ensuring your food is as safe as possible. To find out more, visit the Google Play Store. For all other food safety concerns or help in training your staff in food safety, browse our website or call our dedicated support team at 07540 872146.

 

 

//www.flickr.com/photos/35342879@N00/">Freezer by milkisprotein licensed under Creative Commons 4.0

30.10.19Last week we talked about the importance of tracking food from farm to fork; starting with the farmers, through to the distributors, and finally to the consumer. This week, we're going to look at the onsite storage of dry food, chilled foods, and frozen foods. UK legislation makes it clear that food must be stored in ways that will not cause harm to the consumer; rules about UK food storage and preparation are laid out in the Food Safety Act 1990. EU Food Hygiene Regulations also set out clear rules for the way meat and other fresh products that are bought and sold within the EU must be prepared, processed, and stored.

The law

Much of the UK's law regarding food storage relates to the temperature that foods can be stored or displayed at for varying lengths of time. These temperature regulations are laid out in the EC Regulation 852/2004, the EC Regulation 853/2004, and The Food Safety & Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013. These regulations set out the kinds of foods which should be kept chilled, including dairy products, cooked or smoked fish, prepared ready to eat foods, and uncooked pastry products. In general, 8°C is considered to be a satisfactory chill temperature for these products when they are not being processed or handled.

Storing food at home

Of course, it's important for consumers to store food correctly once they've brought it home, too. Dry food should be stored in sealed bags, tins, or other containers, in a cool and dark place. Foods which need to be chilled, such as fresh meat and dairy, should be stored at a temperature of below 5°C in the fridge. If needed, most foods can be frozen (below -18°C) to increase their shelf life, though this shelf life isn't indefinite. After between three and 12 months, the quality of the food will start to decrease, so it's preferable to use freezing as a short-term solution.

The DUED revolution

DUED is an HACCP approved app that helps to document the most important aspects of the farm to fork journey, and it can be used by food producers and distributors to use a due diligence system which is 100% digital. Time and space-efficient, the DUED app is set to revolutionise the way we record due diligence information. To download the app or read more about it, click here

 

 

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21.10.19From a food safety perspective, the ability to trace a product from “farm to fork” is incredibly important. This allows retailers and businesses to respond rapidly to any food quality/safety incidents, thereby minimising consumer exposure to sub-standard or potentially dangerous products. Under UK legislation, all food businesses must be able to identify where their raw materials (including packaging) came from and where their products are going to. Ideally, each firm should be able to take one step forward and one step back in the chain, apart from businesses who sell directly to the end consumer. Product-specific legislation also applies to certain foods including beef, fish and genetically modified crops.



1. Farmer The farmer is responsible for growing the crops/raising the livestock which eventually makes its way to our plate. Depending on agricultural practices, produce may encounter pesticides, herbicides or antibiotics. This should be documented by the farmer.



3. Distributor Once processed and packaged, food is ready to be distributed by a wholesaler. Wholesalers deliver food to supermarkets, local butchers, restaurants and more. Detailed logs, including temperature during transit and delivery notes with itemised lists of goods in transit should be kept to identify any potential cross-contamination.



5. Consumer The consumer is the end of the chain. Any foods purchased by a consumer should contain clearly legible packaging which can be used to identify where the product has come from further down the chain.

Food Safety in the digital era

A new app, known as DUED (Due Diligence Information) helps to document the key processes in the farm-to-fork chain. It’s a HACCP-approved app which allows food producers to go completely paperless and instead make use of a cloud-based due diligence system. It’s the perfect way to save time, storage space and reduce the potential for contamination, and features over 20 different metrics for recording product data. For more information, or to download the app, click here

 

 

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Thursday, 17 October 2019 07:44

What does HACCP mean in catering?

11.10.19You're probably already aware that HACCP involves controlling supplies and ingredients coming into a catering business and what is done with them thereafter. However, in this blog, we're going to break this down further, taking a closer look at what HACCP means in catering.

Who does it affect?

Catering businesses which will require a plan based on the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principle include premises serving food, such as hotels, public houses, restaurants, takeaways, sandwich bars, coffee shops and street vendors. However, it also extends to outside catering companies, hospitals and any other institution with catering operations.

The approach used by HACCP on food safety concentrates a caterer’s attention on the causes of food safety hazards. Allowing a caterer to control and identify safety hazards, there are 7 principles to follow, including conducting a hazard analysis, establishing critical limits and establishing corrective action.

The basic practices of safety in catering

Let's take a look at some best practices to bear in mind if you work in catering or own a catering company.

Proper storage of foodstuffs

Arranging food properly in the fridge reduces the rate of spoiling and contamination. Ready to eat food should be stored on the top two shelves (dairy at the top then cooked food below), followed by raw meat and fish in sealed containers. The most important rule is to follow is to store raw products below, never above, your ready-to-eat or cooked products.

Maintaining optimum fridge/freezer temperatures

Many kinds of food items need to be stored in a fridge or freezer to keep them fresh and safe to consume. A catering fridge should be kept below 5 degrees Celsius and freezers should be maintained at -17.7 degrees Celsius as most of the microbes that cause contamination of refrigerated food cannot thrive under these conditions.

Inspecting employee hygiene

Not only does food have to be thoroughly inspected, but employees who prepare and serve it need to be too. Caterers should not wear artificial nails or have uncovered hair when working around food. Their clothing should be clean and replaced if it becomes dirty.

For the purposes of maintaining high standards of food safety, every stage in the food production process should be carried out with due diligence. Magna Food Health and Safety can provide you with more information on HACCP - get in touch here to find out more.

 

 

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