I was recently asked to do an in-house Level 2 Food Safety course for a small organisation. One of the things that prompted the training session, was a recent inspection that they had had from the EHO. They were disappointed to receive a score of 4 rather than the 5 they were hoping for. Although what they were doing in practice and the condition of the kitchen was good, what had let them down was their food safety management system and documentation.
There is much more emphasis on the food safety management system during EHO inspections, yet this is also the area that caterers often find the most challenging.
The food safety management system and documentation that is kept does not need to be complicated. The amount of paperwork should be applicable to the size and complexity of the food business.
For the small business, a good starting point it to use the ‘Safer Food, Better Business’ pack freely available on the Food Standards Agency website. This is an excellent resource and can be tailored to your business. Take out what isn’t applicable to you and if you want to add in extras, e.g. temperature sheets, do so. Make it your own.
When designing your own recording sheets, consider what will work best for your team in practice; this could be separate sheets for different things or you might choose to have one sheet to incorporate everything that will be recorded in one day.
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a more structured and formalised management system for food safety. A lot of food businesses worry about the need to go down the formal HACCP route, but we only really need to consider this for food manufacturing business or for catering if you have a particular high-risk process in place.
Whatever system you use, be that the ‘Safer food, better business’ pack, HACCP or a bespoke food safety management system written by yourself or a consultant, be realistic about what you are doing.
For example, the small organisation I mentioned above relied on elderly volunteers who had been volunteering there for years. They had minimal food handling and when they were in the kitchen they tied their hair up and wore a clean apron. When the organisation updated their policy, they stated that food handlers would wear a chef’s jacket and wear a hat. This was unrealistic and would most likely result in losing the volunteers that are so valuable for the charity, and it was also unnecessary for the type of food they were handling.
The policies and procedures must reflect what you do in practice and the practices must reflect what’s in the policy.
If you need help to write your policy or review your current policy, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Rod Carver - Level 3 Food Safety Attendee
Academy Training Manager