Industry information and advice

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Informations et conseils sur l'industrie

Preparing for a Food Standards Health Rating Inspection

The hygiene assessment system of the Food Standards Agency has now been adopted by most local authorities. This increases public awareness of your hygiene assessment. With over 300,000 catering businesses displaying their food hygiene rating on their premises, there is increased potential that a health inspection could make or break the future of your business. So while it may be tempting to overlook a few minor health violations in the hopes that inspectors won't show up today, the best practice is to treat each day like the day an inspector visits. will present. The ideal way to prepare for an inspection is to perform a routine self-inspection every week.

3 ways to get started now:

Have the right tools


Have and use the same tools as the Ex-Inspector. Some common tools inspectors carry include a flashlight, clipboard, alcohol wipes, chemical test strips, inspection forms, and a meat thermometer. (In the case of industrial manufacturing, this list may be longer.) Create your own inspection kit and use it.

Everything in your kit should be organized and in working order. When it comes to thermometers, it's important to keep them clean, calibrated and easily accessible. Wipe the probes after each use, keep the housing clean by wiping off any grease or grime, and calibrate (if necessary) once a week with an ice bath.

Employee Quiz


During an inspection, health officials often ask employees questions about the task they are currently performing. In the case of a chef, inspectors will ask about recommended minimum internal temperatures. This may include recommended temperatures for chicken, fish, beef and ground meats.

Ask any staff member questions about duties and safety throughout the week. This will keep the knowledge fresh in their minds and help evaluate whether your training techniques are effective. Providing recommended temperature charts is also a great way to ensure your staff is prepared to answer temperature questions.

Check folders


A good inspector will ask employees to provide information on illness, hand washing, training, temperature and HACCP records to ensure you are properly monitoring safety practices. Taking the time to check these records yourself keeps them in order and on hand when the inspector arrives.

Having plenty of thermometers is crucial. When it comes time to record temperatures, you won't want your employees scrambling to find one. It's always a good idea to have at least 10 thermometers on hand. One in each chef's jacket, a few for the prep area and one to keep in the office. The more thermometers you have, the better you will be able to ensure that temperatures are taken.

There is no crystal ball that will tell you when an inspector will show up. You must always be ready. If you create an atmosphere conducive to health and safety, there's no doubt - when the time comes - you'll be set up to succeed and get that 5-star rating to post on your door!

Color coding for food safety

Biological contamination is by far the most common cause of food contamination in Europe, accounting for millions of food-related illnesses each year. The presence of harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses can turn an otherwise delicious meal into a life-threatening experience.

One of the most common forms of contamination is cross-contamination, the transfer of harmful bacteria from one food product to another via dirty utensils, including cutting boards, knives and thermometers. Since most bacteria are killed during the cooking process, at temperatures above 75°C, the risk of cross-contamination is higher when bacteria from foods that need to be cooked come into contact with foods that are not.

Eliminating cross-contamination requires good food safety habits, such as frequent washing of hands, utensils and work surfaces. Many professional kitchens also use color-coded tools used for different foods, such as raw poultry or fresh vegetables, to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Tips and advice

Although many kitchen utensils are color-coded, the vast majority are not, including many food thermometers. However, we have many colorful products and blankets to choose from, including those found on the color coded food safety chart, and are perfect for prevent bacteria from forming and thus avoid cross-contamination.

How to keep the color code?


In busy kitchens, color codes can be easy to forget. So it's a good idea to post a wall chart that employees can quickly refer to at any time. We sell equipment available in food safe colors.

Explanation of color codes


Clear color codes can help staff to maintain high food safety standards that will keep customers safe and keep them coming back for more. This is particularly important in an industry where staff turnover rates are so high. A simple color-coded system allows new hires to quickly connect to a team without managers having to worry about food safety compromises. Color coding the food preparation process will help make cooking more efficient and safer.

The White  is used for baked goods, such as pastries, as well as all dairy products. Note that eggs must be prepared separately to avoid any risk of spreading salmonella bacteria.

Yellow  is for all cooked meats. Note that cooked meat and raw meat should always be separated. Cooked meats should also always be stored above raw meat in the refrigerator.

The green  is used for fruits and salads.

Brown  should be used when preparing vegetables.

The Red  should be used for raw meats, such as uncooked steaks. It is essential that all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned after preparing raw meat products.

Blue  is used for raw fish. It is essential that raw fish be kept away from raw meat, as fish is a common allergen.

HACCP - What is it and what does it mean?

HACCP means Risk Analysis and Critical Control Points. It is used to describe an internationally recognized way of managing food safety and protecting consumers. It's about a requirement of European legislation on food hygiene which applies to all food business operators, except farmers and producers.

EU Regulation 852/2004 (article 5) requires food businesses to implement and maintain hygiene procedures based on HACCP principles. This legislation replaced the Meat (HACCP) Regulations 2002.

HACCP principles

HACCP regulations are internationally recognized as the system of choice for food safety management. It is a preventative approach to food safety based on the following seven principles:

✔  Identify hazards to prevent, eliminate or reduce

  Identify critical control points (CCP) at stages where control is
  Establish critical limits at the CCP level
  Establish CCP monitoring procedures
  Establish the corrective actions to be taken if a CCP is not under
  Establish procedures to verify whether the above procedures work
  Establish documentary records to demonstrate the effective application of
     measurements above

Make your HACCP plan paperless

Integrating a new digital system into your business may seem difficult and time-consuming, but it's actually very simple. Once you're set up, your daily checks couldn't be simpler.

Digitizing your temperature records has many benefits:

  Saving time and money on manual labor

  Adds a timestamp to your readings

  Prevents records from being falsified or poorly written

  Maintains a more organized and accessible data archive

  Enables rapid corrective actions to avoid costly damage

There are three different types of thermometers you can use to scan your temperatures:

Bluetooth thermometers


Bluetooth thermometers pair with your device via Bluetooth connectivity. Simply take your temperature and, At the touch of a button it will transmit the reading to your device, where it can be viewed, stored and downloaded using our free software. Our Bluetooth thermometers include food probes, infrared devices and a dish thermometer to record plate cleaning temperatures.

USB Data Loggers


Data loggers automatically take readings at scheduled intervalss. Readings are stored in the instrument and can then be transferred to your PC using a USB connector. These are most often used for ambient readings, such as refrigerator/freezer temperatures and ambient temperature or humidity. But they can also be used to track the internal temperature of perishables over a period of time, for example during transport. Once connected to your computer, the data can be analyzed, shared and printed using our free software.

Wi-Fi data loggers


Like USB data loggers, Wi-Fi loggers perform readings at scheduled intervals. But instead of having to connect to a computer to download the measurements, they are automatically transmitted via Wi-Fi. The benefit is that users can monitor results in real time, and even receive email alerts for out-of-range readings. This provides the highest level of safety where temperatures are critical, allowing corrective action to be taken instantly and costly damage to be avoided.

Why choose an infrared thermometer?

Infrared thermometers are ideal for taking surface temperature measurements remotely. They provide relatively accurate temperatures without ever having to touch the object you are measuring. However, they are not a good choice for measuring the internal temperature of an object.

Infrared thermometers are very fast, usually giving a reading in a fraction of a second, or the time required for the thermometer processor to perform its calculations. Their speed and relative ease of use have made infrared thermometers invaluable public safety tools in the food service industry, manufacturing, HVAC, asphalt and concrete, laboratories, and countless other industrial applications .

Choose an infrared thermometer when it is impractical to insert a probe into the object to be measured, or the surface is simply out of reach and that a surface probe will not do the job. You may need an infrared thermometer to measure objects:

✔ Fragile (computer circuits)

✔ Dangerous (gears, molten metal)

✔ Impenetrable (frozen food)

✔  Susceptible de contamination (aliments, solution saline)

✔ Movement (conveyor belt, living organisms)

✔ Out of reach (air conditioning ducts, eardrums)

Infrared thermometers and food service applications

Foodborne bacteria usually sit on the surface of food. Infrared thermometers can therefore be useful for checking the holding temperatures of food on plates, serving areas, buffets and warming trays.

But infrared thermometers are not very effective at measuring how well food is cooked. Critical temperatures for food safety, such as 5°C and 60°C, should always be checked using an internal probe.

Which infrared thermometers to use?


There are three infrared thermometers ideal for foodservice applications. THE RayTemp 8 And RayTemp 38 come with removable K-type probes, while the thermometer Thermapen IR has a built-in foldable probe to allow internal temperature measurements to be taken.

Infrared thermometer and liquids


If using an infrared thermometer with liquids like soups and sauces, pull a ladle full of liquid from the bottom of the pan before taking a measurement to better approximate the internal temperature. To measure semi-solid materials like stuffing, corn or mashed potatoes, insert a spoon into the center of the material, pulling it back to create a vacuum and point your infrared thermometer into the vacuum .

Finally, be aware that steam, even when a liquid is not boiling, can condense on your thermometer and affect the accuracy of your measurements.

Temperature measurements inside a refrigerator or freezer


Infrared thermometers used to measure temperatures inside a refrigerator or freezer generally need to be stored inside the refrigerator or freezer so that they are ready to start taking readings when you have them need. To measure the contents of frozen pallets, be sure to open the pallet, remove at least one box, and point your thermometer toward the top of one of the center boxes to ensure your reading reflects the temperature of the frozen material inside the pallet and not just the surfaces exposed to warmer air.

What is pH and why should you maintain the correct levels?

pH is a measure of the degree of acidity or alkalinity of a solution. This is measured in numbers; the lower the number, the more acidic the solution. The higher the number, the more alkaline the solution.

The impact of incorrect pH levels can vary from application to application. For example, plants absorb nutrients within a certain pH range, so an incorrect level can affect growth rate and fruit yield. When brewing, incorrect pH can produce poor taste and affect shelf life. At the other end of the pH scale, a fruit juice producer will need to control the pH to avoid poor quality and the risk of health problems if the pH drops too low. Incorrect pH level within the pharmaceutical industry could lead to the production of unwanted toxins. Consistent and accurate pH measurement is fundamental to achieving the desired result.

Maintaining your pH meter

If you do not take care of your pH meter, incorrect measurements of pH levels may occur.

✔  At a minimum, you should always clean the pH electrode by holding it under a running tap. If the pH electrode is excessively dirty, a cleaning solution can be used or purified water. Leave the electrode in the cleaning solution for 

✔  After soaking overnight, rinse the electrode then soak it in a 4 pH buffer solution before rinsing the electrode one final time. The electrode should then be ready for use.

✔ When not in use, make sure the pH meter electrode is kept moist in a storage solution or pH 4.01 solution. If the sensor dries completely, the performance of the instrument will be affected and its warranty will be invalidated.

✔  If an electrode has dried out or becomes slow to respond, it can be rejuvenated by soaking it overnight in a cleaning solution. Avoid touching the glass bulb at the end of the pH electrode at any time, as this can easily damage it.

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