FOOD SAFETY INTERVENTIONS
Any business that stores, prepares, produces, cooks or sells food must comply with food hygiene law.
Food Safey Officers carry out over 2,000 visits a year to high risk food premises in Worcestershire to ensure that food is being hygienically prepared and is safe to eat. Unannounced visits are carried out by Environmental Health officers as part of a risk based inspection programme in line with the Food Standards Agency Code of Practice http://www.food.gov.uk/. Complaints may also generate an intervention.
During a visit
Officers will check
- Ownership of the business. All food premises must be legally registered with WRS
- if a business changes ownership a new registration is required
- many businesses fail to register; please contact us if you think this is the case
- That potential food safety risks have been identified (including allergens)
- There are adequate controls in place to make sure food is safe to eat (including allergens)
- That staff are fit to work, adequately trained and supervised
- The premises are well maintained, clean and free of pests
- That waste disposal is properly managed
At the end of a visit a Business Information Report is left with the business
- stating all is satisfactory, or
- advising what needs to be done if improvements are required
The officer will then issue a signed and dated Food Hygiene Rating Scheme score and sticker.
Here is a blank copy of the checklist used during visits so you can see what officers look for.
Food Safety Enforcement
Over 95 per cent of businesses in Worcestershire maintain high standards of food safety but where conditions are not satisfactory, officers will attempt to improve food safety management practices by providing information and support.
Where poor conditions persist, or where there is a significant risk to public health, WRS will not hesitate to take formal action. This could involve either the service of a Hygiene Improvement Notice [HIN] or, in extreme cases, closure of the business through a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order [HEPO]. Food offences are criminal ones and if we take a business to court, the fines are now unlimited and based on turnover according to the Sentencing Guidelines.
Our Approach to Enforcement
Basic food safety advice for consumers is given in the boxes below.
Thousands of people fall ill every year from food poisoning in the home because they do not follow safe food practices.
You cannot see, smell or taste harmful bacteria and food that is not stored or cooked properly can lead to serious foodborne illnesses. Help keep yourself food safe by following these simple practices within these lists to make sure the food you shop, store, prepare and eat is safe.
Also check the following web sites:
This is not intended to be a comprehensive list but some top tips to help you practice good hygiene in the home:
- Do not put hot food directly into the fridge or freezer, let it cool first.
- Keep cooling foods covered.
- Remember that cooling should be completed within one or two hours after cooking.
- To speed up cooling divide foods into smaller portions, place in a wide dish or bowl and stand this in a shallow tray of cold water.
- Clean and tidy as you go!
- Keep food preparation surfaces clear of clutter to make cleaning easier.
- Clean kitchen surfaces after preparing food using hot, soapy water and anti bacterial sprays.
- After handling raw meat, poultry, fish and other raw foods always wash hands.
- Clean utensils and surfaces thoroughly before using them for other foods, especially cooked and ready to eat foods.
- Give your kitchen a ‘deep clean' periodically.
- Detergents, disinfectants and anti-bacterial cleaners will only work if you use them properly, so always follow the instructions.
- Detergents such as washing up liquids are designed to dissolve grease, oil and dirt. Always clean surfaces first with detergent to remove any grease or dirt, then apply disinfectant to kill any remaining germs.
- Disinfectants, such as bleach, are designed to kill germs. These are very strong cleansing agents and should be used carefully as they can contaminate food and cause serious harm.
- Anti-bacterial cleaners are types of disinfectant and can also kill germs - they often come in spray form. Make sure you buy those suitable for food use.
- Use separate buckets and cloths for cleaning floors.
- Use separate cloths or sponges for separate tasks; where you can use disposable cloths.
- Don't mix hand towels and tea towels with general washing
- Follow recipe and label instructions on cooking times and temperatures.
- Remember to pre-heat your oven properly.
- Check food is piping hot before serving.
- Always check that sausages, burgers, pork and poultry are cooked right through; they should not be 'rare' or pink in the middle and when pierced with a knife any juices that run out of the meat should be clear, not bloody. Undercooked chicken is a common source of campylobacter food poisoning.
- Don't cook foods too far in advance, especially if you haven't lots of storage space.
- Once cooked, keep foods covered and piping hot (above 63°C) until you are ready to serve
- When using a microwave stir foods and drinks once the cooking time is reached, and allow them to stand for a couple of minutes. This helps to avoid hot or cold spots.
- If cooking large amounts use a food probe thermometer to check your food is properly cooked. If using a probe clean and sanitise between uses to avoid cross contamination.
Food poisoning is often caused when harmful bacteria on one food are spread via hands or kitchen utensils to cross-contaminate other foods. Good hygiene practices which help prevent this:
- Keep raw foods separate from cooked and ready-to-eat food at all times.
- In particular keep raw meat, fish, poultry and other raw foods away from ready-to-eat foods such as salads, bread and sandwiches.
- Store raw meats and poultry at bottom of your fridge where blood cannot drip onto other foods.
- Never put cooked food on a plate which has previously held raw foods until it has been thoroughly washed.
- If you can, use separate chopping boards for raw and cooked foods.
- If you do not have separate boards, always wash your chopping board between preparing raw and cooked foods.
- Always wash hands with hot water and soap after handling raw foods and before touching other foods and utensils.
Most of us try to use up leftovers to avoid food waste and save money. When you do:
- Discard any food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- Place left over food in containers, label and refrigerate or freeze.
- Use cooked leftovers within 3 days.
- Follow recipe and labelling advice on suitable times to keep foods frozen or they may be inedible when thawed.
Good personal hygiene is critical to ensure food is safe to eat.
Always wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds making sure you clean between fingers and on back and front of the hand up to the wrists and forearms if appropriate:Before and after handling food
- After blowing your nose coughing or sneezing.
- After handling uncooked meats, poultry, fish, eggs and heavily soiled vegetables.
- After going to the toilet.
- After changing a nappy.
- After emptying waste bins.
- After handling pets.
- After helping a sick person.
- After gardening.
Cover cuts or abrasions with plaster or gloves.
If you have diarrhoea or vomiting ask someone else to do the cooking for you. Ideally you should stay out of the kitchen for 48 hours or until symptom free. If this is not possible then make sure you wash your hands regularly with anti-bacterial soap and use a separate towel.
Food hygiene hand rubs are useful but only work if your hands are clean. And they only give protection for a limited time.
- Always wash hands before and after handling food.
- Take extra care if preparing food for vulnerable people, eg. young children, the elderly or other people with health problems.
- Don’t cross contaminate.
- Keep raw meat, poultry and fish away from other food.
- After cutting raw meats wash hands, board, knives and clean surfaces with hot soapy water.
- Do not pre wash meats, unseen bacteria can end splashed onto surfaces and contaminate other food.
- Sanitise boards and surfaces after washing with anti bacterial spray.
- Keep pets out of kitchens when preparing food.
It is safe to refreeze previously frozen foods, including meat, but quality may be affected.
- Keep hot food hot (above 63*C).
- If serving buffets help keep food cold with trays of ice.
- Keep food warm in chafing dishes or slow cookers.
- Do not leave buffets of high risk food out for more than 2 hours at room temperature.
- Make sure reusable bags are kept clean.
- Do not store perishable, high risk items in cars or at ambient temperature for long periods, especially in warm weather.
- Check foods are within Use By dates.
- Use cool bags for perishable foods and try and refrigerate within 2 hours of purchase especially in very warm weather.
- Best Before dates relate to quality only and will continue to be safe to eat past the given date
- Refrigerate perishable food promptly and properly (less than 8°C).
- Use a fridge thermometer to ensure temperature runs below 8°C (3-5°C is best for food quality).
- Before using check high risk food is still within Use By date.
- Freeze meat, poultry etc immediately or within 2 days if it has been kept chilled below 8°C
- Store raw meats below ready to eat foods in the fridge.
- Wrap raw foods such as meat and poultry to prevent juices getting on to other foods.
- Don’t store food in cans especially those with high acid, e.g tomatoes, pineapple.
- Unopened canned foods are safe indefinitely but discard rusted, dented or swollen cans.
- Keep eggs in the fridge and treat as a raw food.
- Rotate food in freezers to prevent waste.
- The safest way to thaw foods is in the fridge.
- Make sure when thawing meat and poultry juices do not drip onto other foods, especially ready to eat.
- If you really need a fast thaw place food in a leak proof plastic bag and submerge in cold water.
- If thawing using a microwave, cook high risk foods immediately after thawing