Innovate Blog
How the avoid the spread of foodborne illness in a catering and hospitality operation

Wednesday August 8, 2018

According to the Food Standard Agency (FSA) over half a million people in the UK are affected by foodborne illness every year. For hospitality and catering operators, the worse outcome from serving food is to make people ill.  Not only does it create very bad publicity, it can also pose significant risk of legal action.

Foodborne illnesses occur when guests consume contaminated foods or beverages. Many different illness-causing microbes or pathogens, such as salmonella, e-coli, listeria and norovirus can contaminate foods.

The symptoms of food poisoning vary depending on the bacteria which has caused the illness, however, common symptoms are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhoea

Most foods naturally provide the moisture and nutrients needed for bacteria to flourish. Foodborne bacteria grow fastest at temperatures between 90 to 110°F (32 to 43°C) and during the summer months, the warmer temperatures and higher humidity are ideal for bacterial growth. Therefore, it is extremely important, particularly during the summer months, to make sure you’re doing everything you can to minimise the risks of foodborne illness.

There are many ways in which foodborne illness can be avoided. On the NHS website they recommend following these eleven top tips to avoid the spread of foodborne illness.

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap and dry them before handling food, after handling raw food and after touching the bin, going to the toilet, blowing your nose or touching animals (including pets).
  2. Wash worktops with antibacterial spray before and after preparing food, particularly after they’ve been touched by raw meat (including poultry), raw eggs, fish and vegetables.
  3. Wash all dishcloths and tea towels regularly and let them dry before you use them again. Dirty, damp cloths are the perfect place for germs to spread.
  4. Use a separate chopping board to prepare raw food, such as meat and fish. This is to avoid contaminating ready-to-eat foods with harmful bacteria that can be present in raw food.
  5. Keep raw meat away from ready-to-eat foods, such as salad, fruit and bread. This is because these foods won’t be cooked before you eat them, so any bacteria that get onto the foods from the raw meat won’t be killed.
  6. Always cover raw meat and store it on the bottom shelf of the fridge, where it can’t touch or drip onto other foods.
  7. Make sure poultry, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs are cooked until steaming hot, with no pink meat inside.
  8. Keep your fridge temperature below 5°C and use a fridge thermometer to check it. This prevents harmful germs from growing and multiplying.
  9. If food has been cooked food that’s not going to be consumed straight away, cool it as quickly as possible (within 90 minutes) and store it in the fridge or freezer. Use from the fridge within 2 days.
  10. When using a food thermometer, make sure to wash the probe after each use with hot, soapy water before reinserting it into a food.
  11. Don’t eat any food that’s past its use-by date, even if it looks and smells okay. Use-by dates are based on scientific tests that show how quickly harmful bugs can develop in the packaged food.

There are also other ways outside of the kitchen and dining area that can help you avoid the spread of foodborne illnesses, one of the most effective ways is to wash your hands regularly.

The Bunzl Catering Supplies exclusive brand PRISTINE offers a total hand care solution specifically designed for the catering and hospitality industry. PRISTINE hand care spa-inspired soap refills include an EU Ecolabel certified Freshberry Foam Hand Soap and a Luxury Hair, Body and Hand Foam Wash. For back of house, the Mild Antimicrobial Foam Hand Wash provides a scent free solution with broad spectrum germ-killing power.

When customers or catering operators don’t have access to a washroom or kitchen, or running water, we recommend using Advanced Hygienic Hand Rub from our supplier Purell.  It kills 99.9 per cent of most germs that may be harmful, without the need of a water source.

At Bunzl Catering Supplies we also deliver a comprehensive range of professional cleaning products, that help foodservice operators achieve tip-top levels of cleanliness and hygiene in their foodservice operation. Our exclusive brand Cleanline offers a simple and cost-effective solution for routine cleaning tasks to meet the requirements of different sized foodservice operators, from low to high volume use.  To ensure that all surfaces are clean it is essential to complete a two-stage clean, a process where a surface is firstly cleaned, then sanitised. We recommend using Cleanline multi-purpose cleaner for the first stage then Cleanline food safe cleaner sanitiser, which conforms to EN1276 for bacterial kill activity and EN1650 for fungicidal kill, for the second stage.

more information on PRISTINE visit our paper hygiene e-brochure and for more information about Cleanline visit our cleaning e-brochure.

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