A lot of the media we are seeing at the moment is for how those food businesses that have decided to stay open. Those that have diversified and have turned into take-aways or starting up home deliveries. What they could and should be doing to make sure that what they are doing is undertaken safely.
However, very little is seen about what you could be doing when you have had no choice but to shut until you are able to reopen.
Katie Young, founder of Beacon Compliance – “helping food businesses stay one step ahead when it comes to food safety compliance”, has summarised her top 10 tips (plus one more!) for you to be working on in the background, to make sure that when you reopen, compliance with food hygiene regulations can be rest assured allowing you to hit the floor running with bringing back to life a successful food business, plus she has provided you with a downloadable checklist to work your way through (we all like a checklist!);
- Now is the time to declutter your kitchen. If you don’t use it or haven’t used it more than once a week, then get it out of your kitchen. If its there, you have to clean it. Can you move it to a larder, or store room, and again, if you then haven’t used it for say 3 months, do you even need it all? This falls into the Lean Six Sigma regime of the ‘5 S’ principle.
- Deep clean… a favourite saying is ‘time to lean…time to clean’…and unfortunately, there is plenty of that at the moment. Pull everything out, get underneath everything, on top of everything, behind everything…leave nothing untouched. Look up, down, sideways…don’t miss a thing, even if you don’t cook in it or on it, it will get some form of grime or grease on it e.g. lower legs and underside of table tops! (Actually – this could be a great time to review and rewrite your cleaning schedule!).
- When we are busy in work, our freezers are never empty, so now is the chance to get those freezers defrosted and deep cleaned.
- Dry ingredients, we all love them, spillages everywhere, folded over paper tops. Now you can check the dates, make sure they are within their best before, they may be now, but will they be in 2 months when all this lifts? Perhaps you could decant some of your dry goods into air-tight containers (a bit of Marie Kondo in your kitchen!).
- Making homemade dishes is fab, especially when you can get ahead and cook, cool and freeze some batches of foods and store them in the freezer. It is recommended than any home freezing foods are used within 2 or 3 months, how will this affect the stock you currently have? Will it be ok in 1 or 2 months? Or, perhaps you need to eat lasagne at home everyday for the next two weeks!
- We all love the paperwork side of running a food business don’t we (or maybe you don’t…but I do!), now is the time, that you have time, to review your food safety management system, whether its Safer Food Better Business, or a bespoke HACCP system, make sure it has been reviewed in the last 12 months (I always say review every 11 months), if changes have taken place update and resign the system. Once this has been done, make sure staff training is updated to reflect the changes and that it is recorded.
- Probe thermometers – check they are working! Boiling water and icy water method is great, record the readings. Don’t worry about buying new ones if the ones you have are working perfectly well.
- Is there any key equipment that can safely be serviced, walk in chillers, refrigerated vehicles, ovens, cookers, fire suppressant system’s? Make sure you adhere to government advice about social distancing.
- Ok, so whilst some staff may be furloughed, this is the time that they can get up to speed with some refresher training from home. Most food safety training levels are now available online from as little as £15 per person. It is not a legal requirement to refresh food safety training, but it does look good and can give you some brownie points if you have taken a positive attitude to food safety training. This also goes for free allergen training that can be found on the food standards agency website (https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/allergy-training-for-food-businesses). Perhaps you have some long serving members of staff, could they do Food Safety Level 3 for supervisors?
- Menus – are they up to date? More importantly, have you completed your allergen matrix for the menu? has it taken into consideration any ingredient changes or the same ingredients purchased from somewhere else / alternative brand (this presents risk of introducing new allergens unintentionally)? Don’t assume…it could be the difference of life or death with a customer. Do staff know where to find the allergen matrix? Do they know how to ask customers if they have any allergies or intolerances? Do they know where to find the matrix when on shift?
- Monitoring paperwork e.g. deliveries, fridge/freezers, cooking, cooling etc. · Is it all up to date? Are there any gaps? · Has it been filed chronologically? · Could you redesign it to reduce paperwork??
- Make sure you subscribe to Beacon Compliance’s mailing list to receive ongoing support and advice on how to make sure you stay one step ahead with food safety compliance in your food business! (Katie spends ages writing about her tips and advice – so would be nice for you to read them!).
Well, there is certainly some pointers above to keep you occupied, if you have any queries at all, then we are offering 15 minutes of free advice, whether via telephone or online using video conferencing platforms. Just drop us an email to [email protected], or call us on 07486 687747.