Food Preparation is an integral part of food service; however, raw food contains potentially hazardous bacteria. So it’s important to follow safe workplace hygiene practices, to prevent food poisoning and keep food safe while you prepare it for service.
The preparation of food starts when a food handler brings food out of safe storage and exposes it to food safety risks for potentially extended periods of time. This can in turn be conducive to the growth of potentially hazardous bacteria within the food. If food is left too long out of refrigeration, bacteria can rapidly multiply and cause food poisoning. Bacteria can then be transferred to food, from unwashed hands and clothing, and contaminate it — even if using gloves, as well as onto equipment and utensils, contaminating them. Bacteria on raw food, including food used for garnishes, can easily contaminate cooked or ready-to-eat food. Foreign objects, that fall onto or come into contact with uncovered food, can contaminate that food also, regardless of any and all other safe practices. Allergens are easily spread from one type of food to another from surfaces, hands and equipment.
To ensure food safety is being practised during preparation, you must clean and sanitise cleaning cloths after each use and replace them frequently. Throw away single-use items (for example, disposable food containers or gloves) after using them. Wash all ready-to-eat fruit and vegetables on the day you intend to use them. When preparing vegetable and salad ingredients, ensure you peel, trim or remove the outer parts as appropriate, and wash them thoroughly in clean drinking water (ideally in a separate sink dedicated to food preparation); then clean and sanitise chopping boards and work surfaces before preparing other foods.
Basic Workplace Hygiene Practices include washing hands before handling ready-to-eat food, equipment and utensils, and use gloves correctly where appropriate, also after handling money, garbage, cleaning products or using the bathroom. Handling food as little as possible will reduce the risk of transferring bacteria from one place to another, using clean tongs or other utensils where appropriate will help with preparation. Only take from the refrigerator the amount of food you can prepare within a safe time frame. Return food to the refrigerator if there are delays. This keeps the food stored in a safe environment and reduces the growth of potentially hazardous bacteria.
Safe food handling and preparation is not only imperative to a successful food service, but is also a legal requirement by Health Organisations. To learn more about how to best prepare food safely and hygienically, visit our website and complete your online Workplace Hygiene for Food Handlers.