Our guide to food safety

Our guide to food safety

First published date January 21 2014 Amended date January 22 2014

A food safety course is important for anybody working in the hospitality industry, whether you are the chef or the restaurant manager, insuring the food prepared in your kitchen is safe for customers to eat is paramount. Food hygiene has recently become more and more regulated with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) recently introducing the Food Hygiene Rating System (FHRS) where restaurants or any food outlet alike are rated out of five for the state of their hygiene standards. So whether you are experienced in the industry and need a refresher or just starting out, a qualification in food safety will benefit your career.

Working in an environment where food is handled, whether it’s in retail or food manufacturing, you will require a qualification and have a responsibility to ensure the people you are serving are safe with the food they’re eating.


What will the course involve?

Courses will usually be classroom based where you will be educated on certain food hazards and how you can deal with them in the future as well as the laws and regulations that govern a food based environment. There may also be practical elements as well where you will be put in a kitchen to try and identify any potential dangers and violations and write mock reports. All of which are intended to train you how to spot possible problems in an instant and raise your awareness. Courses will cover many areas in the world of the kitchen. You will learn how to avoid cross-contamination and store food correctly, understand temperature control of fridges or ovens and your own personal hygiene when handling food all fall under the umbrella of good food hygiene.  Food safety courses differ in duration also, some are just for the day, a few weeks or even more and most courses will end in a multiple choice question exam.


Will I get a qualification at the end of it?

There are multiple awarding bodies in food safety, each one offering different levels depending on your role within the industry and what’s required, so it is for everyone whether you’re a kitchen porter or Gordon Ramsey. The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) are just two of the industry recognised providers of food safety qualifications. Each body has different levels of qualifications ranging from level 1s to level 4s or even foundation courses, level 1 being a basic grasp of hazards and higher levels delving more into supervision and legislation understanding. You can also choose different areas of food safety to be qualified in. Your specified area could be food safety awareness in catering or it could be managing food safety in manufacturing, there are courses suited to your current or upcoming job.


Why is it important?

Would you eat at a restaurant knowing that they take little care in the way they store or prepare their food or don’t look after the cleanliness of their kitchen? The safety of your clientele is of the upmost importance as certain diseases spread through cross contamination or gone-off meat can be very serious. The intention of the FSA and their FHRS is to entice establishments to up their standards, and so the better kept ones have a five rating on their shop window with pride, whereas on the other side of the spectrum, those that have a low rating will probably put potential customers off. Having an up to date and informed knowledge of food safety will help the restaurant or establishment you work, cook or manage perform better in the long term with the FHRS soon going to become compulsory for business to display on the shop front.


Did you know?

  • Half of men and a quarter of women don’t wash their hands after using the loo; this is despite germ cells doubling on the fingertips after using the toilet.
  • The kitchen sink can contain as much as 100,000 times the amount of germs found in a toilet or bathroom.
  • Placing food that is still hot in the fridge can cause an imbalance in temperature creating the perfecting environment for bacteria to multiply and cause food poisoning.
  • It is advised to separate chopping boards for red meat, poultry, fish and vegetables as the average one contains 200% more faecal matter than a toilet seat.