A spokesperson for a leading food service equipment manufacturer has urged kitchen operators nationwide to remain vigilant about food standards, ahead of the release of new sentencing guidelines for health and safety and food offences later this year.
The Sentencing Council, an independent body responsible for developing sentencing for use in court, recently finished consulting on the new guidelines, which could see fines increase across the board. Companies will be fined according to their revenue, with penalties of between £500,000 and £3m applicable to those with an annual turnover of above £5om.
The news comes as one large leisure operator was recently fined £1.5m for serving food unfit for human consumption, resulting in one death and 33 falling ill.
Stuart Flint, Regional Training and Demonstration Manager at Electrolux Professional, has advised operators to maintain a vigilant and comprehensive approach to food safety.
Flint commented: “The involvement of the Sentencing Council highlights the seriousness of the issue of food safety, and the need for operators to take the necessary precautions to keep hygiene at the top of their agenda and minimise the risk of such bacteria spreading.
“It is important for operators to look for existing systems which will help to maintain the highest standards. Through the introduction of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system, all food businesses now have a framework to apply to the safe handling and cooking of food and manufacturers are working hard to make HACCP compliance completely seamless and guaranteeing customer safety.
“With outlets advised to keep up-to-date records of procedures, traceability is paramount. Equipment which can take readings of processes and allow HACCP data to be downloaded and stored via USB, can guarantee peace of mind and provide comprehensive information should any incidents require further investigation.”
Advice from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) cites cleaning, cooking, chilling and cross-contamination as the four main things to remember for good hygiene, while operators are urged to put in place food safety management procedures and ensure that that all members of staff who handle food are supervised, instructed and trained in food hygiene.
Flint states that kitchen design should be considered as important as equipment capabilities when it comes to handling and producing food in the safest way possible.
He added: “Not everybody takes account of how much the kitchen design process can contribute to good hygiene in a food service environment. Consultants, distributors and manufacturers will always strategically consider what can be done at the design stage of a new kitchen to help operators and management safeguard against bacteria, which will ensure the establishment’s reputation.
“Good layout, operating systems and production flow should ensure that the preparation and handling of high risk foods are segregated. As such, design optimisation could be as simple as keeping dirty kitchen functions separate from clean functions or ensuring that refuse does not have to be taken through food rooms for collection.”