Tag Archive for 'food hygiene'

Australian Food Safety Specialist Gavin Buckett Interviewed On Channel Nine Show “Mornings.”

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If you own a food establishment, then watch out!

Council food inspectors could be soon knocking on your doors to check whether your food business complies with Australian food safety standards and regulations.

Recently, our Founder and Managing Director Mr Gavin Buckett was interviewed on the “Mornings” show on Channel 9 about the standards for food safety in Australia. Of course, what was talked about wasn’t entertaining, especially for the 445 ‘sloppy businesses’ in Brisbane that paid fines totalling $579,700, for the lack of sufficient food safety standards, but the purpose of the story was to focus on ways that customers can spot the safe places to eat.

You can watch the interview as TV presenters Sonia Kruger and David Campbell have turned food safety into a small, focused debate that will open your eyes to what customers should look out for the next time they dine out at your restaurant.

You can watch the video interview by clicking the image below:

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Gavin Buckett’s advice for diners:

A lot of kitchens are open plan so you can see the staff, and where food is being prepared. You can see what they’re doing, the uniforms they’re wearing, and even if they’re washing their hands. Always take a look at the environment the food is being prepared in.

Advice for food businesses and restaurants:

Don’t gamble with food safety! At The Gourmet Guardian we work confidentially and cost-effectively with food businesses to:

• Reduce potential food safety dangers you might not know about

• Prevent dangerous outbreaks

• Uncover hidden issues that might be just as problematic and costly.

We can also help empower your employees with fun and engaging food safety training through our RTO Prime Skills website: Click here to make sure your business is Food Safety compliant.

As the Brisbane Council says: “Clean up or close up.”

When it comes to food and the health of your patrons, there is no room for shortcuts.

 

Kitchen Cleaners: Chemical Versus Natural

kitchenThere’s nothing people love inside of their homes more than a cosy, clean kitchen environment. Kitchens take a lot of work and upkeep for sanitary eating surfaces, clean eating utensils and most importantly, healthy foods.

When it comes down to what products to use when cleaning your kitchen, confusion follows as to whether natural cleaning products or chemical cleaning products are the safest ways to keep the kitchen spotless.

The Truth About Chemicals

Just because a product is called, ‘Natural’ doesn’t make it a true product consisting only from earth’s soil or even safe, for that matter. Some of the most natural things in life can actually be some of the world’s most toxic chemicals! Think about curare, snake venom and belladonna – totally natural yet totally deadly.

The same philosophy goes for commonly used household products such as pesticides, detergents and cleaning solutions that contain harmful chemicals. They clean great but are also very hazardous for you and your family’s health, not to mention the environment.

Formaldehyde is found as the top ingredient in some of the most popular kitchen cleaning products used to sanitise your kitchen. Remember high school Biology and what liquid the scientific animals used for dissection sat in? That’s right!

When formaldehyde is present in products that contain preservatives, the dangers become even more toxic when itdangerous-chemicals comes in direct contact with human parts of the body. This toxic ingredient commonly used in kitchen cleaners can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, lungs and throat which can also lead to human carcinogen.

Other ingredients found within kitchen cleaning solutions may contain cresol and phenol, which are corrosive in nature and may cause dizziness and diarrhoea in the user, not to mention, liver or kidney damage.

Something extremely important to remember when cleaning with toxic chemicals is to NEVER mix chlorine bleach with ammonia! What happens with this concoction is that the sodium hypochlorite present in the bleach releases chloramine gas may lead to asthmatic symptoms and other breathing related problems.

Because of all these dangerous and potential side effect, many people are swaying over to the more natural cleaning products, however, is the ‘natural’ label on these products actually natural or are they the same, synthetically manufactured materials?

Some people actually believe the natural products used to clean kitchens are safer to humans as well as the environment but the truth is that they could possibly be running the risk of food poisoning by not being able to thoroughly clean leftover bacteria in the kitchen. It then becomes an ongoing debacle – are toxic cleansers that rid of all bacteria safer than natural cleansers that leave traces of deadly bacteria behind?

This risky dilemma results in no completely positive answer either way. The underlying answer remains, at best, within the full knowledge on the cleaning products you use and common sense when using them.

To keep a safely disinfected kitchen in your home without using all of the harsh and hazardous chemicals, the best option is to look for kitchen cleaners that have natural antibacterial properties. The operative word is ANTIBACTERIAL and surprisingly, most people already have many of these all-natural cleaning products already in your kitchen!

How To Replace Harsh Chemical Disinfectants With Natural Ingredients

Many popular chemical cleaning products are popular because they come with labels that state their products kill kitchen bacteria by 99.9% on surfaces such as sinks, faucet handles and kitchen counters. Because there’s no scientific data to always back that up, what some companies forget to add to their labels is that they’re unsure whether or not these disinfectants reduce incidences of infection.

imagesThere are, however, many non-chemical disinfectant cleaning products and techniques found inside of your kitchen that can kill and prevent the growth of the bacteria in the kitchen effectively without harmful chemicals that are quite easy to use. While these ingredients alone might not clear off all of the bacteria in a single swipe, when combined with other safe, natural products, they can significantly reduce the disease-causing bacteria in your kitchen.

Take a look at these ordinary household products that can be used as natural disinfectants and tips when using them:

  • Ordinary household vinegar – Vinegar is a very effective cleaner that prevents the growth of bacteria. This is an excellent antibacterial kitchen cleanser, especially if you happen to have apple cider vinegar lying in your cupboards. If you don’t have any regular or apple cider vinegar, distilled white vinegar can also be used.
  • Lemon juice – Lemon juice is another fantastic and completely natural cleaning product that fights effective against bacteria. Keeping kitchen surfaces in an acidic environment makes it very difficult for the bacteria to grow.
  • Bacteria-free sponge and some muscle – Sponges are great scrubbers that help to disinfect your kitchen by cleaning away the food debris that bacteria thrive on. To keep your sponges disinfected, wet them down and place them in the microwave on high for one minute each.
  • Baking soda – Usually found in refrigerators as an odour eliminator, this natural abrasive kitchen cleaner is great for removing baked-on dirt and other soils that are hard to remove. It absorbs odours in porous surfaces such as wood, carpeting or textiles.
  • Borax – This common household product is another natural cleaning powder, much like baking soda (but stronger) that acts as a kitchen disinfectant and stain remover. Borax is also used to kill mould and mildew spores while removing their stains making it great for mopping floors.
  • Tea tree oil – This natural, essential concentrated oil from the tea tree works as a natural disinfectant, removing mould and mildew while also working to remove build-up from dirty kitchen surfaces. It103059380’s completely nontoxic and perhaps a bit more expensive than other natural cleaning products but well worth the aromatic fragrance that will freshen up areas as you clean them.

While the perfectly safe kitchen cleaning formula hasn’t yet been created, taking these naturally, simple steps will make your kitchen a much cleaner, safer place for cooking and eating!

Disinfectants And Sanitisers: What’s the diff?

Disinfectants(1)When setting out to clean the kitchen, many people grab the closest cleaning agent without understanding the difference between disinfectants and sanitisers or knowing which one is used for the mess that needs to be wiped up.

The difference between the two is easiest enough to understand but sometimes tricky to remember. To help distinguish the two, just remember to keep it simple: Disinfectants STOP bacteria and sanitisers SLOW down bacteria.

The scientific reason behind the difference of disinfectants and sanitisers is the dilution. Disinfectants must have higher capability for killing pathogenic bacteria compared to that of a sanitiser.  According to EPA requirements a disinfectant must kill 99.99% or more of specified bacteria whereas sanitisers must kill at least 99.99% of three specified bacteria within a specified time period.

Disinfectants stop the growth of microorganisms (bacteria such as fungi, bacteria and viruses) on non-living surfaces in its place. The most powerful factor of disinfectants is the fact that it can actually kill these microorganisms when used properly and effectively! Because disinfectants are chemical agents that killing bacteria and also slow their return down, it’s best used for cleaning kitchen surfaces that meat, fish, poultry and eggs have been prepared on.

Sanitisers reduce the amount of microorganisms to a safe level but cannot kill them since they don’t contain that killer chemical agent that disinfectant does. This doesn’t mean that sanitisers aren’t effective or a great cleaning agent; instead, it’s better used for regular kitchen surfaces around the kitchen that raw poultry or other food-poisoning bacteria haven’t been exposed to.

In order to get the maximum effect out of sanitisers, it’s extremely important to first scrub down the surface with regular soap and hot water, dish detergents, ammonia-based cleaners and all-purpose cleaners.

Popular Types Of Disinfectants

Alcohol – Alcohol solutions are a base ingredient for many other disinfectants and great for disinfecting skin and decontaminating surfaces.  Alcohol is an excellent pathogen destroyer but it must be left in contact with surfaces for atdesinf2004eng least 20 minutes to be effective.

Aldehydes – All forms of aldehydes have different ways of working to disinfect surface areas as well as a wide range of germicidal activity that can be highly toxic to humans and animals.  It should only be used as a last resort and in a well ventilated area.

Ammonia – Ammonia is one of the most effective and fast working disinfecting products out there but can be extremely dangerous to the skin and the respiratory tract. This should NEVER be mixed with bleach since it will produce toxic fumes and can cause severe and sometimes fatal injuries.

Chlorhexidine – Because this agent isn’t irritating to skin, it’s a popular kitchen cleaner and is used for general surfaces and also commonly used for cleaning skin wounds.

Chlorine – Also known as bleach, chlorine is harsh but very effective. If used in an environment that is too hot, bleach can create toxic fumes, much like ammonia. In order to bleach kitchen surfaces in the safest and most effective way, make sure the temperature remains at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Popular Types Of Sanitisers

IodophorAcidic iodine-based sanitisers have a universal killing effect on all types of microbes but since the amount of active ingredients to achieve the same killing power as a disinfectant is lower in iodophors, the killing time is reduced.

Hypochlorites – At regular levels, hypochorites aren’t poisonous to the human body, yet, contain powerful germicides that can control a wide range of microbes. The downside is that it does contain a short shelf-life and can be corrosive on some metals or give off chlorine gas when mixed with acids.

litchen-cleaning-kleanway-550x300There are some multi-purpose cleaners now available that work as a sanitiser to slow bacteria down if left on the surface for a short period of time and then a bacteria-killing disinfectant if left on the surface for an extended amount of time. Regardless, always remember to first check your label to distinguish the two and read the directions for proper usage!

Now that you understand the difference between using disinfectants and sanitisers when cleaning a kitchen, grab that bottle of cleaner and scrub away to keep kitchens sparkly and everyone healthy!

Without this Food Preparation Checklist, You Could Be Courting A Food Safety Disaster

If you run a restaurant or kitchen of any sort in Melbourne, you already know that it is a tough town when it comes to food safety standards and restaurant reputation.  You will find that there are number of things that can sink a restaurant in Victoria, but nothing will shut a business down faster than sanitation violations.  If it is discovered that your restaurant has health violations, you can watch your business drop like a rock.

The answer, of course, is to make sure that your kitchen stays in great shape and maintains a high standard of cleanliness.  Though this is by no means a complete list, you will find that these suggestions can help keep your kitchen operating at a high standard.

Store cooked and uncooked food separately. This is essential when you are looking at making sure that your restaurant has a high degree of sanitation.  Essentially, cooked food very often goes directly to the tables of your diners.  Raw food, which is uncooked and untreated, may very well still be carrying bacteria or other contaminants that can be transferred to the cooked food.  By keeping them separate, you’ll be able to keep them from affecting each other.

Label everything. It seems simple, but the truth of the matter is that you should label everything that comes into your kitchen.  Make sure that your kitchen staff undergo food safety training and know what is in the various containers. This way they will only open them when necessary and they will not risk contamination through repeated exposure.

Labelling will also help to improve the speed and efficiency of your kitchen.  Similarly, you may also want to think about dating things to know when they were received.

Temperature readouts. No matter where you keep food, you should make sure that there is a temperature gauge nearby.  This can be instrumental when you are keeping cold foods and when you want to make sure that they stay good.

Take some time and really consider what your options are going to be when it comes to installing thermometers in your food storage location; this can help you a great deal.

Food satefety training for your staff? Remember that when it comes to keeping your restaurant sanitized that your workers play a large part.  There does tend to be a fairly high turn around in kitchens, so take some time to make sure that your workers are aware of what needs to happen to keep the kitchen to high food safety standards.  Make sure that you include both front room staff and kitchen staff when it comes to this kind of food safety training.

When you are running a commercial kitchen, you’ll find that you need to think about what your options are going to be in terms of keeping it safe and clean.  Educate your staff and keep in mind the fact that there are professional services out there that can help you monitor your existing procedures and give you a detailed list of how they can be improved.  Remember that a little money spent on this now can prevent large legal fees down the line.

Gavin can be contacted at gavin@agbsolutions.com.au or through his website at www.australianfoodsafety.com.au.

Outbreak: A Food Professionals Worst Nightmare

If you have cooked in or run a restaurant in Melbourne, you know that you are playing to a tough crowd!  Not only does the city have great restaurants serving all types of food at a range of prices, but you will also find that it is a town with a long memory.

If you give your customers a great dining experience, you can bet that they will be back for more and that they will tell their friends, but if you mess up, word is certainly going to get around. Every restaurant manager fears a food poisoning outbreak, but if you work in Melbourne, you may have more reason than most to be frightened of it.

When you are looking at a food poisoning outbreak, you are looking at your restaurant getting a lot of publicity that it doesn’t need. You’ll find that you may be risking a citation or a warning at best, and complete shut-down at worst. This is how important adequate food safety and hygiene is to your restaurant.

Guests who are unlucky enough to eat at a time when your food safety isn’t as high as it should be may become quite sick, and while many cases of food poisoning can be quite mild, others are extremely severe or unpleasant. This is most common when children or people with weakened immune systems are exposed to tainted food.

Bacteria may easily exist on raw food like eggs, seafood, uncooked rice, or even raw vegetables.  For the most part, good washing practices and cooking will take care of the problems there, but if these foods come into contact with food that has already been prepared, the bacteria are able to pass themselves on. Some bacteria can even be transferred through unwashed hands onto food that is ready to serve. Other pathogens or bacteria will develop on food that as been allowed to grow too warm or that has begun to spoil.

There are many different ways to prevent a food poisoning outbreak. The first and most obvious thing that you need to think about is the fact that your staff need food safety training: to be taught how to handle and prepare food. Strict regulations about hand washing and sanitation on the food preparation floor are things that you really need to drill home.

You will also find that good storage, where raw food is never permitted to come in contact with food that is ready to serve is something that all staff need to be aware of. It is important to establish routine to ensure that staff form good hygiene habits.

The truth of the matter is that there is a multitude of different ways that a food poisoning outbreak can occur, but you don’t need to live in fear. Most restaurant managers aren’t experts in food safety, which is why they will enlist the services of a good food safety expert before anything goes wrong. If you want to make sure that nothing gets overlooked in the food safety of your restaurant, talk to an expert.  If you are cooking in Melbourne, you already know that you are playing to a tough crowd, so don’t make it any harder than it has to be!

Gavin can be contacted at gavin@agbsolutions.com.au or through his website at www.agbsolutions.com.au.

How to Keep Your Food Preparation Area in Full Legal Compliance

If you operate a business in which food is a main staple, food safety should be at the top of your priority list. Not only do you have the legal requirements to keep your kitchen and food preparation areas in good, safe conditions. But you also have an obligation to your customers to keep the things they eat and go into their mouth, clean, safe, and of the highest quality.

Health departments and food safety departments outline all requirements; food safety procedures and kitchen procedures that must be followed by every establishment. What happens if you do not follow these requirements? Well, most importantly you run the risk of hurting your customers. All it takes is for one customer to have an illness or unsanitary problem with their food and your business could take a downfall.

When it comes to commercial kitchen food safety, there are requirements to meet in regards to food storage, food preparation, and safe food handling. These requirements are all geared towards preventing illnesses and diseases that could arise when food is improperly handled, cooked, and stored.

Some food safety requirements within Australia include:

Keeping foods that are deemed potentially hazardous at the correct temperature. In most cases, it is really straight-forward. If foods must be frozen, freeze them at temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius. The guidelines also dictate storage of food. Not only should it be stored at the correct temperature, but it should also be stored to provide protection from any contamination and within conditions that will have no affect on the food in terms of suitability and safety.

There are also regulations that dictate how to reheat food. Foods that are deemed potentially hazardous should be reheated quickly. The foods should be heated to at least 60 degrees Celsius and done so at a rapid pace.

If you are displaying food, you should make sure that you are using different serving utensils for each type of food. Cross food contamination is perhaps the easiest of all contamination processes so it should be carefully guarded against.

With the number of laws and regulations provided in regards to food safety, it can be easy to forget or overlook. However, you need to remember that all it takes is just one bad review or a customer to have a negative experience to ruin the reputation of your business. Therefore, it is a good idea to seek advice from a reputable food safety business in order to help you keep your kitchen safe and your equipment in meeting legal standards.

Gavin can be contacted at gavin@agbsolutions.com.au or through his website at www.australianfoodsafety.com.au.

How to Ensure That You Don’t Have Any Sick Customers from Your Food

If you are a restaurant professional in Melbourne, whether your restaurant is large or small, you need to make sure that proper sanitation and health concerns are one of your top priorities.

There is a good chance that you know of, or have even been to a restaurant that has suffered from health code issues. The repercussions of this can be immense.  The most obvious and potentially devastating sign of poor food hygiene is sick customers. This of course is an unpleasant situation for customers and in the best case scenario, they will simply never return to your restaurant again. In the worst case scenario, they will sue!

Recovering from the loss of reputation that results from poor food safety can be nigh on impossible. Because of this it makes much more sense to protect yourself and your customers by ensuring that your food safety standards are high to begin with.

When you are looking at the maintenance of good food hygiene, you will find that at the most basic level, it is a matter of cleanliness.  All of the handling and storage areas should be kept clean and anyone handling the food must be aware of what they are doing and take the proper precautions.

Food should be thoroughly cooked, and whether being stored or served, should be at an appropriate temperature to prevent the multiplication of bacteria.

Cross contamination, especially with regard to meat, is also something that requires constant vigilance. Meat should always be stored in such a way that accidental drippings will not contaminate other foods.

An extremely important aspect of good food hygiene in the kitchen is the idea that anyone who handles food in your kitchen should be well trained and aware of the safety procedures in place.  Before and after handling food, they should wash their hands with warm water and liquid soap, and after washing, they should make sure that they dry their hands on a towel intended for that purpose.  Hand washing is the core of good hygiene in the kitchen and it should be undertaken after going to the toilet, handling money, breaks, and after sneezing or blowing your nose.

Even with a good understanding of food safety, it is important to be aware of the fact that there is a lot to be said for consulting an expert.  You and your staff have a lot going on, and in many ways, it can be difficult to look objectively at a familiar situation and make sure that everything is being done right. However these small details that get overlooked can become a big issue and potentially devastate a business!  It is here that professional services that will assess your safety procedures and suggest improvements come into play.  You can use these services to reduce the chance of a food poisoning outbreak.  In a place like Melbourne where news travels fast, you can bet that this is something that you will be glad you invested in!

Gavin can be contacted at gavin@agbsolutions.com.au or through his website at www.agbsolutions.com.au.

Food Poisoning – Is Your Food Safe?

Outbreaks of food poisoning have been in the news a lot as of late. As you know, many of these outbreaks were traced to restaurants. No matter where in the world you are, there are safety regulations which must be followed and Australia is no exception.

In many cases of food poisoning, Salmonella is the culprit. Raw poultry and eggs are generally the source of this bacterium in foods, but this bacterium can also be carried by contamination from faeces as well as pet reptiles.

Salmonella is a bacterium which can affect many types of food items. Usually, raw poultry and eggs are the prime suspects in salmonella related food poisoning cases, but contamination from faeces and pet reptiles can also carry these bacteria. There are two ways to prevent salmonella form causing food poisoning which are guaranteed to be effective: thoroughly cooking food before serving and regular, thorough hand washing before, during and after cooking or eating.

Escherichia coli (or E-coli for short) is a form of bacteria which can cause serious illness or even death. Found naturally inside of the human body and in some foods, some strains can be lethal. E-coli produces harmful, toxic substances and includes unpleasant (to say the least) symptoms including watery and/or bloody diarrhea. A healthy adult can generally weather a case of E-coli food poisoning, but the elderly, the sick and young children are at risk of getting very ill if infected. As with salmonella, the way to prevent E-coli infection is thorough cooking and regular hand washing, along with careful cleaning of all cooking areas. Hand washing should become a thoroughly ingrained habit. You use your hands to pick up everything – even harmful microbes.

With all of the stories about food poisoning in the news, it’s understandable that some people are a little nervous about dining out. To make sure that your establishment keeps your customers safe from the risk of infection, be sure to follow the HACCP principles. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points and is a set of principles designed to make sure that foods prepared for people to eat are safe. Many of these regulations are simply common sense, such as putting milk back into the refrigerator after use or dating items before freezing.

Being in charge of a restaurant means that you have to keep a handle on a lot of things at once – make sure that HACCP principles are at the top of your list. All of the hard work you’ve put into your business could be lost if someone gets ill from your food due to a preventable mistake by an employee unaware of the food safety regulations.

Having a HACCP certified kitchen is very marketable. If you have received stickers or certifications from health officials, be sure to place them where your customers can see them. This way they know that the food which you are serving to them was prepared in a clean kitchen which complies with health and safety regulations and they can dine in without getting anxious.