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What is Food Safety?

What is Food Safety?

A recent report from OzFoodNet informs us 5.4 million cases of food poisoning occur in Australia every year. The cost of this is thought to be around the $1.2 billion mark yet does not take into account the personal cost to those afflicted and the worry and extra burdens shouldered by their loved ones.

What is food safety? Food safety is all the precautions food handlers should be taking to reduce these numbers and the effects on people’s lives.

Food safety is serious so Chefs and Restaurant Managers need to ensure all staff coming into contact with food are trained in techniques that minimise risk to their patrons. These techniques include –


  • Safe Food Handling Techniques. Food handling starts from the time the food arrives at your restaurant or commercial kitchen. Staff need to be confident it has arrived in good condition and its quality and freshness have not been compromised. It must then be stored in a manner which is applicable to its nature. Often this may require some rotation of existing stock in adherence to the FIFO rule – first in, first out. Safe food handling also refers to cooking, preparation and resting times. All precautions must be taken to see these are undertaken in the manner which is safe.

  • Cleaning and Sanitising. Kitchen staff need to be aware of the importance of their role when it comes to cleaning and sanitising. Cleaning is the removal of dirt, grease and food scraps to achieve an attractive appearance on all utensils, plates, machinery and surfaces food comes into contact with. Sanitising is the removal of all harmful microscopic bacteria from these elements. It is essential both are recognised as a crucial practice in all commercial kitchens.

  • Personal Hygiene. The single most useful tool in any kitchen is a pair of hands. As such, it is imperative they are cleaned and sanitised as appropriate before, during and after food handling. Having hand sanitisers and soaps in staff bathrooms will significantly assist with this as will signage placed in applicable staff gathering areas. Staff should also be reminded to wash their hands after breaks as mobile phone screens are known to be amongst the worst surfaces for bacteria colonisation.

The big task for Chefs and Restaurant Managers is to develop a culture of food safety in their commercial kitchens. Culture is often defined as what staff are doing when the boss isn’t around so instilling the why in staff is important to help them take ownership of the outcome. The last thing Chefs and Restaurant Managers want is a front page story about food poisoning emanating from their establishment. So build the culture that protects against that while ensuring public health.