In a positive move forward, the British Sandwich Association, the trade association which runs a food safety certification scheme for sandwich and sandwich mix manufacturers, has adopted a minimum 3 out of 5 score as a mandatory requirement for its retail members. The scheme awards score of 0 to 5 where 5 is excellent and 0 indicates urgent attention to food safety controls and /or site standards. Read about it here
So how do sandwich manufacturers, food factories, restaurants, pubs, hotels and takeaways achieve a 5 score? By having commitment to food safety in these primary areas:
- A HACCP based Food Safety management system – which is mandatory for this and under EC Food Hygiene Regulations
- Good site standards with appropriate hygienic work-flow, lay-out, hygienic surfaces and hygienic equipment
- Good Pest Control to minimise risk to food from flies, rodents and cockroaches
- Good Housekeeping and Hygiene to ensure that the unit is kept nice and clean and, where needed, sanitised
- Good Personal Hygiene to ensure that food handlers understand and appreciate the risks they can pose to food and take simple measures to avoid risk, such as hand-washing and clean protective clothing, including head covering (how many takeaways and restaurants do you visit where you see food handlers wearing jewellery and loose long hair – I bet it’s quite a few!)
- Illness reporting procedures to prevent staff suffering from infectious food-borne conditions contaminating food
- Good waste control – to prevent build up of waste in the food room
- Good ventilation – to reduce condensation building up
And so on……it’s all of course laid out in the Food Hygiene Regulations
And can easily be monitored and improved through the process of internal checks and external hygiene audits.
On another, but related note, it has been suggested to me in the past that, in exercising these controls, we are living in a falsely sterilised environment and have opened ourselves up to immunological weakness. Well consider two things: Have you ever had full blown Salmonella food poisoning from a food establishment? If so you probably would never want it again and you possibly lost valuable work days as a result – all because someone else didn’t care or take the time enough to think of you and minimise the risk! And just by ensuring good food safety we aren’t living in a sterile world. If you go out, as you probably do, every day, into a number of different situations, and if you eat “natural” food (i.e. non processed), such as fruit and salad, then you are presenting a challenge to your system that is just fine.