5 Important Reasons why you need a Food Safety Plan

Ensuring that all staff understand their role in keeping the workplace food safe is an important aspect of kitchen management.

Sentinel Training

You need a Food Safety Plan. I know. More paperwork. I can almost hear you muttering under your breath now. Don’t I already have enough paperwork to worry about?  You probably do. And, just as likely, you probably already have a Food Safety Plan. Many establishments just don’t realize it. It tends to be hiding under all the other piles of paperwork! This is a good reason to implement a paperless food safety plan.

What is a food safety plan? It is a document which describes how an organization which produces food ensures that it maintains the safety of that food. Areas covered include food handling, approved suppliers, staff health, hygiene and training, waste management, cleaning and pest control. Along with all this are the forms and log sheets, such as those for monitoring cooler and freezer temperatures.

Any business that handles food is under an obligation to produce food that is safe and suitable to eat. Charities, commercial businesses, community activities – under the FSMA food safety standards, they all need to ensure that their food is safe.

Why is it so important? Here are the top 5 reasons we could think of:

  1. Foodborne Illnesses – probably the biggest reason of them all. Nobody likes getting food poisoning. It’s extremely uncomfortable and can be fatal, especially for elderly people and very young children. A food safety plan will outline ‘risky foods’ and the precautions you should take when preparing or storing them. For example, keeping meats between 34-40 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent bacteria growing.
  2. Cross–contamination – closely related to preventing foodborne illnesses, cross-contamination refers to the introduction of germs to food. There are three major avenues:
    • Other foods – raw meat is the biggest issue here. Bacteria that has grown on the surface of raw meat can transfer itself to other food products if you don’t thoroughly wash your utensils, chopping boards and hands and use the correct (colored) chopping board.
    • Chemicals – this includes anything, from the cleaning chemical you use on the floors, to the pesticides used on fruit and veg. Proper storage of chemicals in your kitchen is important, as is carefully washing fruit and veg before you use it.
    • Humans – yes, us. Look at your hands now. How many door handles have you touched today? What money has crossed your palm since this morning? Sneezed or coughed much today? Scratched your nose? We use our hands for pretty much everything in our day-to-day lives and inevitably pick up germs. It is incredibly easy to spread germs to food, especially if you are sick or have small scratches on your hands where bacteria love to hide.
  3. Waste reduction– understanding the correct ways to store and process foods will lead to less waste. Good practice ensures you won’t have to throw away contaminated food that is unsafe to use.
  4. Accountability – purchasers and retailers these days insist that a food safety plan is in place. In all likelihood, if one is available, staff will have been trained in the proper handling of food and the facility is likely to be a safer food preparation environment.
  5. Legal evidence – If your organization is taken to court over a food poisoning incident your food safety plan, the record sheets you have been maintaining and staff training logs can be produced as evidence of your commitment to food safety.

Keep your Food Safety Plan somewhere easy to find

Keep a copy of your food safety plan where staff can access it and refer to it regularly in staff meetings, this can assist in making everyone aware of their responsibilities towards food safety. I know you don’t want to give anyone food poisoning – your staff certainly won’t want to be responsible for it either – and I’m not saying that having a food safety plan is a magic book that will automatically shield your business from all aspects of bad food management.

It won’t. Accidents can, and do, happen.

But the food safety plan will help your staff understand the risks and prevent most food-related accidents. They will be happier and more confident in their work, able to focus on producing delicious, safe food for everyone!

4 types of food hazards:

There are four types of hazards that you need to consider:

  1. Microbiological hazards
    Microbiological hazards include bacteria, yeasts, molds and viruses. 
  2. Chemical hazards
    Chemical hazards include water, food contact materials, cleaning agents, pest control substances, contaminants (environmental, agricultural and process e.g. acrylamide), pesticides, biocides and food additives.
  3. Physical hazards
    Physical hazards include glass, packaging, jewelry, pest droppings, metals etc. 
  4. Allergens
    This refers to the risk associated with the unintended presence of one or more of the 14 listed food allergens due to cross-contamination.

If you are looking for a suitable paperless food safety system we can offer tailor-made plans, then contact us.
We will be more than happy to help!