Tag Archive for 'Food Preparation'

Kitchen Bacteria

salmonella-bacteria-food-largeWhen people get a bacterial infection, antibiotics are used to kill harmful bacteria that are safe to the human body. For other bacteria found within food or contaminated surfaces and utensils, different methods, such as heat, UV radiation and chemicals are used to effectively control bacteria.

Methods used to kill bacteria and control it from spreading is known as microbial control which consists of three general categories:

  • Physical – heat, freeze-drying, ultraviolet radiation and filtration
  • Chemical – chemical agents like disinfectants Lysol or Clorox, destroy most vegetative cells
  • Chemotherapeutic – antibiotics used to treat patients diagnosed with an infectious disease

The most commonly known bacteria often found in the kitchen is called Salmonella. Salmonella bacteria are found inseparate158 raw meat, especially raw poultry eggs, unprocessed milk and surprisingly, chocolate! If consumed, these bacteria can cause many not-so-good sicknesses, otherwise known as, food borne illnesses. With over 2,000 different strains of Salmonella, all forms can result in unpleasant to serious symptoms of food poisoning if it’s not prevented beforehand.

Cutting down on the amount of Salmonella poisoning that enters the kitchen or gets spread across the countertops can be easily managed just by following a few simple steps:

  • Cook raw meat thoroughly to the proper temperature
  • Properly refrigerate and freeze food
  • Always thaw food in the refrigerator and never leave sitting out at room temperature
  • Separate raw meat and fish to keep them from touching each other or other food when shopping and storing
  • Keep cutting boards for raw meat and other food separate and stored in a different location so that you don’t mix up the cutting boards
  • Wash hands, utensils and kitchen surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water as soon as you’re finished touching raw meat to prevent bacteria from spreading

Having a clean kitchen is extremely important, whether it’s in the home or in a fine dining restaurant, it’s inevitable that raw meat will end up on kitchen counters, sinks and storage areas before getting cooked. Because of this, the safest and most effective methods of cleaning are needed to keep these kitchens cooking!

Disinfectants are one of the most popular AND most important chemicals used in kitchens because of the compound it Chef Cleaning Countercontains that destroys or inhibits the growth of bacteria. When disinfectants are applied to countertops, sinks, trashcans or other areas, its chemical reactions completely wipe out those little microbes.

Sterilisation is obviously the best way to sanitise anything but when talking about ingesting food, disinfectant is less extreme and much less likely to endanger people, pets and plants when applied the right way.

Different disinfectants do work differently than each other with some holding the potential to kill bacteria and others, to simply stunt its growth. That’s why it’s extremely important to know which type of disinfectant you’re buying before bringing it into your kitchen

While there are several types of these disinfectants out on the market, there are two basic types that most people are familiar with: Typical disinfectant and inhibitors. The difference between these two types is that your typical disinfectant stops the growth of bacteria by killing them and your inhibitors only prevent bacteria growth.

Much like taking antibiotics for too long can become ineffective to your immune system, disinfectants can also become less effective after prolonged use. Sometimes, a few bacteria escape the cleaning process and produce new populations resistant to the specific disinfectant.

cleaning-kitchenThese little fugitives can then develop altered genetic structure that allows it to survive additional antibiotic treatments which delves into a whole deal of science that only specialised scientists can fully understand!

The bottom line is, know your kitchen disinfectants and even more importantly, know how to use them because this will make ALL of the difference between delicious, healthy food and sickening, food poisoned food!

Ensure Staff Prepare Food Correctly – Even When You’re Not There

If you work in a professional kitchen, particularly in a demanding city like Melbourne, you know that every night there is a lot at stake. Not only do you need to make sure that you are putting out great food, you also need to ensure that you are subscribing to the highest standards when it comes to food safety and hygiene.

Illness, a loss of reputation and even legal action are just some of the negative side effects that can occur when you start playing fast and loose with food safety. As a restaurant manager you have a responsibility to make certain that your restaurant is doing all that is necessary to meet the various challenges that food safety poses.

The first thing that you need to think about is education.  No matter how experienced your kitchen staff are, make sure that they have all the information they need to be able to conduct themselves appropriately in a food preparation location.

Some food safety procedures are fairly straightforward, others are not.  Make sure that everyone on the floor understands the measures that are taken and why they are necessary. Also make sure that they understand that no matter what kind of rush they are in, this is not something that they can be lax about!

Another area that you consider is proper food storage. While of course you will be able to set some things up to run permanently, like the temperature of your refrigerator or freezer, also keep in mind that there are things that need to be done to ensure that food is not contaminated before it even gets to the cook!  Remember, for instance, that meat should always be stored on the lowest shelf possible, as there is a chance that even a slight drop in temperature will cause it to melt and drip, contaminating the food below it.  Also, raw food and cooked food must always be kept separate.

Your staff must also be aware of the fact that they have a responsibility when it comes to keeping their areas clean.  For instance, dishes, utensils and surfaces need to be cleaned and dried, with a strong preference for things to air dry. Similarly, all equipment that comes in contact with food needs to be sanitized in some fashion between tasks and before every use.  All equipment that comes in contact with food, whether it is for transporting the food or serving or preparing it, must also be cleaned.

The consequences of taking food sanitation too lightly can be severe.  You have a responsibility to ensure the safety of your guests, and a failure to do so can result in some extremely negative consequences.

Remember that consulting with an expert can save you a great deal of grief down the road, so if you are feeling nervous about the issue, make sure that you consider the services of a food safety expert who can offer valuable advice, perhaps even provide a suitable food safety program, to ensure that your restaurant runs smoothly and meets or even exceeds the food safety legislation. Peace of mind in this area will enable you to focus on providing your customers with the most enjoyable dining experience possible.

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

What Mistakes Does Your Team Make in Food Preparation?

Anyone who owns or runs a restaurant or other food preparation business wants to provide their customers with a safe and quality product.  Unfortunately, there are times when mistakes are made and the end result could be a sick or even dead patron.

Do you know that there are approximately 5.4 million cases of food poisoning a year in Australia?  Of these 120 will end with the loss of someone’s life.  All of these cases of food poisoning could be prevented if proper steps had been taken in the preparation of the food products they ingested.  I am sure that everyone in your kitchen wants and tries to comply with food safety standards, however, mistakes happen.  Or what if those standards are simply not enough?  What if there was more you could do to protect the people who are entrusting you with their well-being?  Would you take the opportunity to learn enough to guarantee your foods safety?

A food safety expert can save your kitchen the embarrassment of causing people to fall ill after eating your food.  With about 5.4 million cases of food poisoning a year, it is only a matter of time before someone gets sick from your kitchen; unless you are willing to do all that it takes to prevent it from happening.  By allowing a food safety expert to assist your staff, they can ensure that no one will get food poisoning from your kitchen.  Wouldn’t you enjoy that piece of mind?

A food safety expert can also make your establishment a more profitable one.  As people begin to talk about the wonderful experience they had dining in your restaurant, more guests will come in to try your menu for themselves.  What pride you would feel knowing you were running a place people loved to come into then told their friends about it.

AGB is the only Australian company owned and operated by an apprentice Chef of the Year.  Gavin Buckett is a food and safety expert and is making it his mission to teach restaurant owners and managers how to better protect their patrons and their businesses.

There are different food safety programs available to suit your individual needs.  For example, they can have their auditors come to your establishment and provide weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, or annual audits depending on your desire.  AGB can also provide your kitchen with management solutions such as; menu writing, cost control, equipment recommendations, event planning, sourcing suppliers, food preparation and handling training, product and recipe development, and allergen controls.  In addition, AGB also has a food safety compliance system.  It is a twelve-month course that only requires 10 minutes of your time each week.  This program teaches you tips, techniques and new teachings, all of which will make your restaurant a success.

When your establishment is run properly; is clean, organised, and putting out delicious quality products, word spreads.  When your restaurant is dirty, disorganised and putting out subpar products, word spreads.  What do you want people to be saying about your kitchen?

The HACCP systems designed by AGB Solutions Pty Ltd are practical and easy to read and each program is specifically designed for each client’s business. As most clients are implementing HACCP for the first time, AGB Solutions have designed an 11 Point Checklist for HACCP Certification Success so that we can provide our Guarantee to your success. Click here to see what we include in our 11 point checklist.

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.

Are your Food Safety Preparation Systems Setting You Up For Disaster?

If you are someone who is in charge of one, or several kitchens in the bustling city of Melbourne, you already know that the sanitation and health of both your workers and your customers needs to be one of your highest priorities.

There are many things to keep in mind when you are looking at making sure that your kitchen meets the food safety standards standards that have been set by the health code, but the truth of the matter is that for even the most conscientious of kitchens, it can be easy to get sloppy.

When you are looking at the sanitation of your kitchen and the good health practices of your staff, there are many things that are at stake.  The goal of many restaurateurs is to ensure that customers have an enjoyable experience and that they associate the restaurant with good times.  This is much harder to do if they get sick.

There is also the fact that if you are careless with your sanitation you can, and most likely will run into legal difficulties. There are many things that you can do to help leave legal matters out of your life, and taking care of your health issues is one of them.  Also keep in mind that it doesn’t take much to ruin the reputation of even an established restaurant.

There are some very basic things that can be done to reduce the chances of a food poisoning outbreak at your restaurant.  First, make certain that your staff are educated on matters of food safety.  Verify that they are aware that spoiled food does not necessarily look or smell different from food that is good, and let them know that food must be kept hot or very cold in order to make sure that bacterium doesn’t grow on it.

Remember that all food should always be covered and that raw and cooked foods should always be kept separate. Take some time to make sure that food is not defrosted in the open air and that hands are washed before and after handling food.

Also take care that the various hot and cold places in your kitchen meet the requirements of the local legislation, and always store meats on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator in order to keep juices from dripping down onto other foods. These are the basics for a commercial kitchen, but remember that as a general rule, the busier the kitchen, the more stringent food safety procedures need to be.

Amidst the calamity that dinner time can bring to commercial kitchens it can be exhausting to keep even the simplest orders in mind, let alone adhering to proper food safety procedures. However the reputation of your restaurant depends on these procedures so it is vital that you take no chances. The more streamlined your procedures are the more likely they are to be followed by your staff. Consultation with a food safety expert is often a worthwhile exercise. These people can evaluate your current procedures and suggest any improvements to strengthen your restaurant’s ability to produce safe, quality food.

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

Chemical Cleaning Mistakes To Avoid

Do you make these mistakes in your facility?

That’s right, chemicals can kill! I am a qualified chef, food technologist and food safety auditor and if you knew what some food businesses were doing behind closed doors, I am sure it would shock you.
  • What do you know about your cleaning chemicals?
  • How safe are they?
  • Is price the best way decide on which chemical to use?
  • What should my chemical supplier be telling me?
I have just finished a food safety audit on a child care center. The center was trying to do the right thing by the environment and had purchased cleaning chemicals in good faith from a supplier who made claims about their chemicals containing natural ingredients and being safer for the environment. Now I am all for making the world a greener place and I try to be as energy conscious as I can, however this is what I found:
  • The chemicals came in flat pack bags, that reduced space during transport and storage and were intended to be diluted by the end user of the product prior to use. There were two labels for the same product (sanitiser), which contradicted each other (it meant that one product when diluted was 100 times more concentrated than the other (remember these chemicals are coming in contact with food contact surfaces)
  • All of the labels stated that chemicals should be diluted into a 5 litre container, apart from one, that needed to be diluted into a 20 litre container. The company only provided a 5 litre container in which to dilute the product (what do you do with an open bag of cleaning chemical???)
  • The food surface sanitiser and window cleaner were both the same colour.
  • The label of the sanitiser indicated that the product should be blue (when diluted the chemical was red). It was later discovered that the person responsible for mixing the chemicals, decided one day to change the colour – it should have been blue.
  • The chemical that should have been red was a degreaser
  • The material safety data sheet for the detergent indicated that the chemical should be green. The chemical was yellow.

Cleaning chemicals are vital in providing a safe food working environment, however they are also very dangerous if not used properly. I have three very simple rules for the storage of chemicals in food businesses:

  1. Chemicals must be clearly labelled
  2. Chemicals must be stored away from food storage and preparation areas
  3. Chemicals must not be stored in the same containers as food

Your chemical supplier should provide you with a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) the first time that they supply you with chemicals. The MSDS should contain:

  • Name of chemical
  • The name and contact details of the supplier
  • The date of issue of the MSDS
  • The colour of the chemical
  • The intended use
  • Dilution factors (if relevant)
  • First aid information
  • Personal protective equipment required for using the chemical
  • How to store the chemical
  • The composition of the chemical (active ingredients etc.)

These MSDS should be stored and be available wherever chemicals are used and stored. You should check to ensure your supplier is providing this information for you.

Some cleaning chemicals are incredibly dangerous and you need to make sure that you are using the chemical for it’s intended purpose. Often I see businesses that base their decision purely on price. If you are making this decision, you need to make sure you are comparing “apples with apples”. You need to check:

  • The dilution factor
  • What is included in the price. Good chemical companies will provide bottles, labels, training, posters etc. at no additional cost
  • The size of the containers. I am aware of at least two chemical suppliers who no longer sell chemicals in the large 25 litre bottles due to OHS requirements. All of their chemicals are sold in 5 litre and 1 litre bottles.

In my travels, these are some examples of poor decision making that I have seen:

  • One business changed chemical companies because the cost of the 25 litre bottle was $10 cheaper (20%), however the dilution factor of the cheaper bottle was 50ml per 10 litres of water, instead of 10ml per 10 litres. So they save 20%, but needed to use 500% more!!
  • One business purchased a sanitiser that was intended for an automatic dispenser and foaming machine, but was mixing it by hand. The dilution factor was 1:440. This meant that the business need just over 2ml per litre of water. How long will it take to use a 5 litre bottle at 2ml per litre. How hard is it to measure 2ml?
  • Chemicals stored in cordial bottles, tomato sauce bottles, measuring jugs, water bottles, stainless steel bowls, takeaway containers, Milo tins and food storage containers.
  • Chemicals (in a warehouse) stored in direct contact with bags of flour
  • Chemicals (in a hospital) stored in the pantries with biscuits, tea bags etc.
  • Chemicals (in a fresh chicken shop in a market) stored in the cool room (as they didn’t have room in processing area
  • A dishwasher that was not connected to chemicals at all
  • A meat slicer being “sanitised” with a caustic soda based window cleaner (even though they were clearly labelled and colour coded)
  • A disinfectant (that should be used in toilets) being used as a sanitiser on a production bench used for making mass amounts of sandwiches.

So how about you? What chemical catastrophes have you seen? Do you have any safe tips for the use of cleaning chemicals in food businesses?

What ever you, make sure that you…

Eat well. Eat safe!

Gavin