Keeping your food safe through the warmer months.
Food safety expert Jenny Morris gives her two cents on how you can keep food safe in warmer climates this summer.
1,000,000 cases of food poisoning every year
Summer time and the living is easy. Or at least that’s what the Gershwin song said (if you are interested in old style musicals). But for many food businesses it means even more hard work. Hopefully it’s because good weather has brought more customers out. But when things start to heat up it’s important to think about what this means for food safety, particularly if you work outdoors in mobile or temporary outlets.
According to the Food Standards Agency there are around 1 million cases of food poisoning every year. And the number increases in the summer, particularly for cases of E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella. When I was working as an EHO, there was a large food poisoning outbreak one summer. It happened at a community event and was linked to barbecued chicken. The person in charge was not a professional caterer and knew a little about food safety. So, to make sure that the chicken was thoroughly cooked she par cooked the portions at home and brought them to the site in the back of her car (where they warmed up nicely in their black bags in the sun.) Then, the portions were quickly “flash cooked” on the barbecue – and later those who ate the chicken became ill.
For me the learning from that incident is that “a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing”. So proper training in food hygiene is essential. And if you take on new staff in anticipation of increased summer trade, training should be an urgent priority. To a professional caterer the mistakes made in cooking the chicken will be well understood but sometimes there are some less obvious hazards that pop up when the sun shines. The food safety basics – “the 4 C’s” – remain the focus of the safety controls but some adjustments may be needed. So, let’s look at them in turn.