Managing health and safety within a food and catering context presents some unique challenges that are not present in keeping other workplaces safe. Failure to follow correct health and safety in the kitchen environment can lead to injuries, damaging legal action, and potentially death.
When it comes to HSE for restaurants, in broad terms you must consider two areas; the safety of your staff and your customers. HSE Network has provided a checklist that provides best practices to follow when conducting food safety checks in a restaurant.
Here we breakdown the finer points of a food health and safety checklist and some of the areas to consider when you are filling one in.
1. Keep good records of the workplace and checks conducted
Records and regular inspections are important in catering as they provide a consistent record of past incidents and food deliveries. It is best practice to label food with dates and ensuring proper stock rotation to ensure that produce is always fresh and within the usable period.
When it comes to food production, best practice also stipulates that cooking temperatures and reheating temperatures should be clearly shown and labelled on all food items. Remember, for food to be deemed safe and free of all bacteria it must be stored below 5 degrees Celsius, and when heated it should reach temperatures above 60 degrees.
2. Keep in mind the rules that must be followed regarding food hygiene
Compliance is important here as the food’s standards agency does have the ability to close your workplace if you are deemed to not be compliant with health and safety standards. For instance, all members of staff who handle food should have the relevant level 2 food hygiene certificate. This not only makes you compliant it also helps make your workplace safer for staff members and customers.
However, it is worth stating that in the UK the responsibility for staff training falls under the remit of the employer. This means good on the job training can be enough to ensure the employees are trained in the eyes of the law. You should adopt a two-pronged approach with certification and practical training to get the best results. It is also worth considering whether you should have public liability insurance if an incident does occur.
3. Check equipment and work surfaces meticulously
The work surfaces within a kitchen are crucial when it comes to keeping food safe. Constant sanitization and the prevention of cross-contamination will help keep your food and your workplace safe. The food standards agency recommends having separate colour-coded chopping boards for different food types. The most common method is as follows:
Red = raw meat
Yellow = cooked meat
Brown = vegetables
Green = salad
Blue = raw seafood
White = dairy
Purple = nuts
All chopping boards within a kitchen should be properly cleaned after service and stored in a dry clean environment. For good health and safety compliance, you should avoid cutting or handling food directly on a metallic surface.
The health and safety inspection checklist
Health and safety inspections are routinely carried out around the UK as a way of ensuring standards are maintained across the industry. Checks should occur roughly every 6 months, giving you ample time to prepare and make sure you are operating a safe environment.
Here we have compiled a checklist on some areas to consider that will be evaluated during an inspection.
- Is there a pest control system in place?
- Are there separate sinks for dish, hand and food washing?
- Is the equipment regularly cleaned?
- Are fridges at the correct temperature?
- Are storage areas clean and organised?
- Is protective equipment used when working with food?
- Do workers wear hairnets or keep hair tied?
- Is there a first aid kit on hand?
- Is there a stock control procedure?
- Do you safely thaw and reheat food?
- Are there separate preparation areas for raw and cooked foods?
- Are hand sanitiser and soaped kept stocked up?
- Do you clean with single-use cloths?
Food safety management system
- Does the workplace have a cleaning schedule?
- Do you have evidence for your safety procedures?
- Is the food cooked and stored at the correct temperature?
- Do staff have the relevant qualifications?
- Is the correct hand washing procedure followed?
- Are food probes used and clean before using?
These are some of the questions that you should ask yourself before you are facing a health and safety inspection. In addition to being criteria to meet for compliance purposes, they are also good practices to use in your workplace regardless of inspections. They will increase the quality of your food and the professionalism of your workplace from a health and safety perspective.
Follow the rules outlined and other best practice for a safe workplace
Health and safety is often viewed as burdensome but it is vitally important in a catering context where danger can be present both for workers and customers. If you follow the rules outlined above and other best practice from the Health and Safety Executive, you should have no trouble passing a food hygiene inspection, aiming for that 5-star rating. This is important when it comes to keeping your eatery competitive and customers coming through the door.
If you have any wider concerns on how to manage health and safety more holistically, our health and safety checklist for small businesses covers some of the top-level procedures that you should follow.