Protecting food from contamination

Throw out contaminated foodDo you know how many environmental factors can cause food contamination?  Protecting your food from spoilage and potential contaminants is a legal requirement for all food providers, and they must act in accordance with legislative requirements.

Protecting food from potential contaminants is a large part of any Food Safety Supervisor’s role.  This could include protecting food from hazards such as unhygienic objects, bacteria carried by people and pests, or chemicals that can cause serious illness.

Make sure that your venue runs a tight ship by checking with local council environmental health officers, to find out more information about inspection procedures and what work needs to be done in a particular timeframe.

Common contaminants of food include:

  • Juices from raw foods, e.g. meat and seafood

  • Unclean surfaces, equipment and utensils

  • Dirt and grease

  • Bacteria and viruses, from unwashed hands and poor personal hygiene

  • Pests and pest droppings

  • Cleaning and other chemicals

  • Jewellery, hair and personal items

  • Glass, metal or other fragments from damaged equipment and fixtures

What you can do to prevent contamination?

Although it is the business owner’s responsibility to set up food safety processes and procedures in the workplace to comply with the Food Standards Code, there are some simple steps to prevent food from becoming contaminated:

  • Store food in enclosed industry-standard containers

  • Store food and packaging above the floor

  • Store raw food—especially meat, fish and poultry— below and away from ready-to-eat food, in a cool room or fridge

  • Store chemicals and equipment well away from food items, food packaging and food-handling areas

  • Maintain the premises, including all fixtures, fittings and equipment, in a clean and undamaged condition

  • Clean and sanitise food contact surfaces and utensils regularly

  • Use separate equipment and utensils for raw and ready-to-eat foods, or thoroughly wash and sanitise equipment and utensils between handling raw and ready-to-eat foods

  • Avoid unnecessary contact with food, e.g. use utensils rather than bare hands

  • Thoroughly wash and dry hands before starting work, changing tasks or returning from a break, e.g. between serving customers and preparing food, and after handling raw foods and garbage or using the toilet

  • Minimise the wearing of exposed jewellery, and tie back long hair

  • Cover cuts and wounds with an appropriate dressing

  • Do not allow staff members who are feeling unwell, or suffering from a contagious illness, to handle food.

To find out how you can gain a Food Safety Supervisor qualification, check out our course page.