Purchasing and receiving food: minimising the risk of contamination

Risk managementUnsafe food may contaminate other foods and may result in the sale of unsafe food to your customers. You need to check all food received from your suppliers to protect your business. Some of the risks of contamination include:

• Damaged packaging may allow germs (bacteria) to contaminate food or it may be a sign that insects, mice or rats have eaten or contaminated the food inside. Pests can carry disease and insects can lay eggs on food.

• Food past its ‘use-by’ date can be unsafe.

• Pre-packaged food must be labelled and its ingredients listed, so that you can give your customers accurate information about the food you sell – including information about the ingredients that are a known source of, or contain, allergens. A label will also help you identify food in case it is recalled.

• Food stored near chemicals can become unsafe and their flavour can be affected.

• All foods must be protected from contamination.

Strategies to minimise risk

Only buy from reliable suppliers. Write or speak to your suppliers detailing the conditions you want the food to be delivered in. Maintain a list of your approved food suppliers.

Inspect all food deliveries from your suppliers and keep goods delivery records. Observe whether the driver and the truck are clean, and check that the vehicle is not carrying any animal(s) or chemicals in the same area as the food.

Reject suppliers that don’t provide food in the way you want. Reject deliveries if the inside of the delivery vehicle is dirty, has animals on board, or is carrying chemicals with the food.

Make sure food is protected by proper packaging and/or containers. Transfer all deliveries into a suitable storage area as soon as possible.

Examine the packaging to see if it is damaged. Make sure that all products are properly labelled, including the product name and address of the manufacturer, a batch code or date code, an ingredient list and any allergen information.

All products should be within their ‘best before’ or ‘use-by’ dates. Look for any visible signs of insects, insect eggs or other items that should not be with the food, such as dirt, glass and rubbish.

Reject products in damaged packaging. Reject pre-packaged foods that don’t have the name and address of the supplier, a batch code or date code, and an ingredient list on the label.

Reject packaged food if the supplier cannot provide product information on allergens.

Reject any product if contaminated.