Working in the catering industry is an amazing career choice. The opportunities for career progression and variety are pretty much boundless if you love working with food. However, food safety is paramount to this. With risks such as food poisoning ever-present as a threat, not just to the health of customers, but to the reputation of the business you’re employed with, it’s extremely important to become suitably qualified and tuned in to the potential risks. Awareness of the hazards involved with catering will lead to a kitchen that is on the ball in the fight against contamination.
As stated in the Food Safety Training Guidance PDF from Improve (http://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/multimedia/pdfs/fstg.pdf), in Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on the Hygiene of Foodstuffs, Chapter XII Annex II, “food business operators are to ensure:
1. That food handlers are supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters commensurate with their work activity;
2. That those responsible for the development and maintenance of the procedure referred to in Article 5(1) of this regulation or for the operation of relevant guides have received adequate training in the application of the HACCP principles.”
So what do you need to become qualified when it comes to food safety?
You can find numerous courses online that will help get you on track to safe food handling, from virtual qualifications to adult colleges. Your first action should be checking with your local authority to see if there are any courses available near you, either formally or through another awarding body. The Food Standards Agency also offers specific courses on their website, such as food labelling, food allergy and vacuum packing, so you can gain an eclectic understanding of food handling necessities in your business.
Safer food, better business
The FSA also offers a ‘safer food, better business’ (SFBB, https://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/caterers/sfbb/sfbbcaterers) pack specifically for caterers, though they do have options for everyone from childminders to retirement homes. Facets of this include cleaning, cross-contamination, chilling, cooking, management and diary, so you can have all bases covered when it comes to food safety. The benefits of this pack include not only improved hygiene standards, but business reputation improvements and less food waste.
These steps may only seem minor, but it’s the direction you need to go in in order to operate a safe, hazard-free catering environment. If you’re prepared to work with food, you are therefore prepared to deal with the risks involved, and accept responsibility for unacceptable food hygiene standards.