Food Safety Top Tips #5: Safer Foods for little ones

Bright image of banana and bowl of food for a child
Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash        

Learning about a range of new foods is great for the development of young bodies and brains but exploring safely should always be first priority.

There are some really well known food safety tips for under 5s, including:

  •               Cut small fruits such as grapes, berries and tomatoes lengthways, then into quarters
  •               Steam or boil firm vegetables like carrots, yams or broccoli
  •               Remove bones from meat and fish
  •               Don’t give whole nuts

But did you know that foods that foods such as bread, jelly and marshmallows could also could create choking hazards? We’ve created the free ‘Guide to Early Years Catering’, for advice about safe foods for little ones, nutrition for under 5s, menu planning and much more

Food Safety Top Tips #4: The 5 second rule

A packet of broken biscuits dropped onto the floor
Photo by No Revisions on Unsplash

Everyone knows the 5 second rule – as long as you pick it up in less than 5 seconds, it’s safe to eat food you’ve dropped on the floor.

Let’s set this one straight – that’s outrageous! Good food hygiene is all about keeping dangerous pathogens out of the food we eat. And however hard we try, no-one’s floor is genuinely so clean you could eat your dinner off it. So, don’t rely on the 5 second rule.

There are lots of great rules you can use in your kitchen though. It’s worthwhile knowing the key facts and figures; and if you work in a commercial kitchen, you’ll need to work these into your HACCP plan.

Some effective rules are:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly for 2 minutes before each new kitchen task
  • Avoid the pathogenic danger zone of 8-60 oC
  • Cook food to 70 oC for at least 2 minutes

For more info, have a look at our Level 2 HACCP course, and learn about setting up a Food Safety Management System for your kitchen

Food Safety Top Tips #3: The Killer in your Kitchen

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

What’s the most deadly tool you use in your kitchen?

Kitchen knife? No

Mandolin? It’s tricky to handle, but no.

The kitchen mixer with the dodgy electrical cable? We don’t recommend using this one – but it’s not as deadly as….

Your mobile phone!

Repeated studies have shown that most mobile phones carry a zoo full of germs, including nasties such as Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and E.coli. But we scroll without thinking in between cooking tasks, running the risk that we spread these pathogens through our food to the people we cook for.

Ideally, to cut the risk of cross-contamination, keep your mobile phone out of the kitchen, but if that doesn’t work, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly every time you pick it up. To learn more about the hidden dangers lurking in your kitchen, have a look at our Level 2 Food Hygiene Course

Food Safety Top Tips #2: Can I freeze food past the use by date?

Image of frozen berries
Illustrates article by thesaferfoodgroup.com describing safety regarding freezing food
Photo by Devin Rajaram on Unsplash

With rising food costs and threats of supply issues, we’re all becoming increasingly aware of food waste. So making best use of your freezer makes good sense.

But what are the rules on freezing food? What are the deadlines you must stick to in order to keep food safe?

Freezing food prolongs its use by pausing the effects of harmful bacteria – most bacteria cannot be destroyed by the freezing process. Use-by dates indicate food safety; a product that has passed its use-by date could already be unsafe to eat so you cannot freeze food after the use-by date has passed.

When freezing foods, use information on the product label to work out how long it can be frozen. Defrost in the fridge, then cook thoroughly using safe times and temps and eat within 24 hours. Have a look at our Level 2 Food Hygiene course for more info about the rules for cooking safely

Food Safety Top Tips #1: Let us Spray

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Everyone knows how to use cleaning products, right?

Spray disinfectant onto the surface, wipe off with a clean cloth, job done…

Wrong!

Disinfectants are used to destroy pathogens (bacteria and viruses). In order to work effectively, they need time to break down cell walls and interfere with the pathogens’ operating systems. For this reason, disinfectants used in commercial kitchens include instructions about CONTACT TIME – that is the time you need to leave the product to work before wiping clean.

If you didn’t know this, you’re not alone – in a group we recently surveyed, no-one knew about contact time. But it’s really important to read the label and follow the instructions to make sure you’re cleaning effectively. To learn more about keeping your kitchen in tip-top condition, have a look at our Level 2 Food Hygiene Course

Early Years Catering update – Nursery Milk Scheme

What is the Nursery Milk Scheme?

Early Years settings can claim reimbursement for milk, under the Government’s Nursery Milk Scheme. This applies in England, Wales and Scotland, although the scheme is known as Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme in Scotland, and extends to snacks.

What EY settings can apply for this scheme?

With a few exceptions, the settings that can apply for this scheme include:

  • Registered childminders
  • Registered day care providers
  • Local authorities providing day care
  • Those providing day care to children under 5 years in schools
  • Those providing day care in a nursery or crèche for children (under 5 years)

Which children are eligible for free milk, and how much?

Children under 5 years who attend the setting for two or more hours are entitled to 1/3 of a pint of milk each day they attend the setting.

Where can I find more information?

Have a look at the Scheme website for further information: https://www.nurserymilk.co.uk/frequently-asked-questions

I want to know more about catering in an early years setting….

Have a look at our free guide – it covers menu planning, food safety, hygiene and allergens, and provides links to some great free resources for early years cooks.

Click here to access our free resource for Early Years caterers

Level 3 Food Allergy training for Supervisors released by The Safer Food Group

Food safety training experts The Safer Food Group have released a brand-new Level 3 course, aimed at supervisors and managers responsible for implementing allergy safe procedures.

The online, video-based endorsed award is the first of its kind to be created for the UK food industry. The course aims to equip food operators with the vital skills required to risk assess their operations, implement safe processes and manage teams. The video and written content addresses two essential elements of food allergen management, namely prevention of cross contamination and delivery of good communications.

Academic Director, Jonathan Green, stated, ‘We are very excited to be bringing this course to our learners. Whilst consumer focus on good allergen management has increased, food operators have not necessarily been able to access adequate tools to help them put good practice and process in place. 

We undertook an audit of available Food Allergy courses, and realised it was not always clear who existing allergy courses were aimed at, and what their objectives were. We created two distinct courses – a Level 2 course that specifically meets the needs of food handlers, cooks, and front of house teams, and a second, Level 3 course that helps the supervisor, manager or chef through the allergen risk assessment process and enables them to put effective solutions in place.’

Who is this Level 3 Allergy Management course suitable for?

This course is suitable for those responsible for  ensuring safe use of allergenic ingredients in their workplace, including managers, supervisors and chefs. It is suitable for food operations in catering, hospitality, manufacturing, education, health and care settings.

How much does the Level 3 Allergy Management course cost?

The course costs £48 + vat for a single learner, but multi-purchase options are available, which allow course purchase for larger cohorts at £24 + vat per learner.

How long will the course take?

Depending on experience, studying the course itself will take approximately 4 hours. In addition, learners will use resources supplied to complete their own risk assessment and allergy policy. The course concludes with an online exam.

Are there any entry requirements to taking the Level 3 course?

We recommend that learners have previously been trained in allergy awareness to Level 2. The Safer Food Group Level 2 Allergy Awareness course has been developed alongside this course, and learners who have already taken the Level 2 course will be familiar with the format, chapters and terms used. Recap material from the Level 2 course is available to Level 3 learners.

When will Level 3 Allergy Management be available?

The new course is available from 4th March 2022

Is this course accredited?

The course is an endorsed award, accredited by Qualifi, an Ofqual registered awarding body: ref: AFAM3SFG2022, and attracts 6 CPD learning points.

Where can I access the course?

https://www.thesaferfoodgroup.com/allergy-awareness-level-3.php

Where can I get more information?

Email [email protected] for further course information or to discuss partner pricing arrangements.

Access this press release as a PDF

The Safer Food Group’s Guide to Early Years Catering

Why is food hygiene and safety important for Early Years practitioners?

It is important to serve safe, hygienic food to everyone – but in early years settings, it is especially important to ensure little bodies are protected and nourished, and immune and digestive systems can develop safely. Having an awareness of food borne illness and how to prevent it is important for anyone who works in early years.

Do I need a food hygiene qualification for childcare?

According to Section 3.48, Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, March 2021: “Providers must be confident that those responsible for preparing and handling food are competent to do so. In group provision, all staff involved in preparing and handling food must receive training in food hygiene.”

So the simple answer is – if you prepare or handle food, you MUST have received food hygiene training.

What level of food hygiene training do I need for childcare?

This depends on your role – if preparing and serving food is a small part of your role, and someone else is instructing or supervising you, a Level 2 Food Hygiene award should be adequate. If you are running the kitchen, putting processes and plans in place, and supervising others, you might want to look at a Level 3 Food Hygiene award, that gives you some insight into management level skills and a greater background knowledge of food safety.

Where can I get food hygiene training for early years?

If you already work in early years, your employer may have a preferred training provider for food hygiene. If you’re looking for a course yourself, you can choose to study a face to face or an online course. Think about what is important to you before you decide – cost, convenience, being able to recap material and study at your pace, or being able to ask questions?

Look for a course that is designed for early years practitioners, especially at Level 2. Courses such as those offered by The Safer Food Group cover specific situations and details that will be relevant in your role.

Also, consider whether you’ll need any additional training – do you need to learn about Allergen Management, or Nutrition for your setting, for instance? If so, look for a training provider who can cover all of these subjects – you’ll have all your training details held in one place, and you’ll build up a comfortable familiarity with the way the courses work.

I want to know more about catering in an early years setting….

Have a look at our free guide – it covers menu planning, food safety, hygiene and allergens, and provides links to some great free resources for early years cooks.

Click here to access our free resource for Early Years caterers

Food industry trends – buying closer to home

Market vegetable stall copyright 2021 www,thesaferfoodgroup.com

According to 2021 research, British consumers are increasingly looking for British produce; great news for the environment and the economy.

Unsurprisingly, following food shortages in 2020 and 2021, savvy British consumers have been considering alternatives to their supermarket shop.

As well as supply chain issues, consumers have been driven to local producers by concerns about quality, citing a deeper trust in British farmed goods than in imported foods. High profile news stories regarding imported meat containing high levels of antibiotics and chlorine have forced consumers to think more carefully about food quality and production and processing methods.

And environmental concerns have also led shoppers to think about buying local – farms shops and markets have proved a great way to buy direct from producers, as well as providing genuinely seasonal foods.

Record breaking consumer numbers buy British food

This article published by Speciality Food Magazine cites OnePoll research that claims, ‘73% of the public often or always looking specifically for British food when shopping’.

It also revealed a strong level of support for British farming and its quality standards, with the vast majority of respondents wanting trade deals to protect British farmers from being undercut and welfare standards of imported meat to match that of domestically produced food.

The unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic highlighted the need for more secure supply chains – and local businesses responded to support their communities. Producers found creative ways to get their food directly to consumers, through farm shops, co-operatives and box schemes. The benefits of open air markets became clear as a safer shopping environment.

Rising success of the small food business

The economic situation continues to be tough for some food businesses, especially those without a corporate safety net to keep the cash flow going. However, the pandemic has demonstrated how agile and adaptable small businesses have been and continue to be as the rules and landscape shift on a monthly business

Some great examples of small business agility have been:

  • Food retailers taking their sales out into their community, using church halls, delivery services, or even repurposed ice cream vans to get supplies to vulnerable people
  • Businesses recognising and solving community problems – including the micro brewery who provided a reciprocal collection service for food bank items donated by customers of their delivery service. Community engagement has been a strong theme for a lot of food businesses, giving them the opportunity to really get to know and build relationships with their customers, and there is no doubt a number of these initiatives will continue and thrive once the threat of the pandemic has lessened.
  • Artisan producers joining forces to create ‘lockdown luxury’ boxes – sharing storage, packing and delivery resources to reduce cost and environmental impact and increase customer base

Small businesses can suffer from higher proportional overheads, without the economies of scale enjoyed by larger companies. However, they often have the benefit of entrepreneurial spirit, an adaptable and loyal staff body and the agility to change direction quickly and make change happen. In adverse times, these skills will continue to be invaluable and as circumstances develop, the rise of small businesses is very welcome .

Useful links

Food safety training from The Safer Food Group

Produce and Provide – network of local farms and producers across the UK accessible to consumers

National Market Traders Federation – supporting market traders

Love your local market campaign hosted by NABMA

Support organisations for catering and hospitality workers

We know that life in hospitality and catering can be tough. Long hours, unsociable shifts, tricky customers… just some of the reasons your job can leave you feeling blue. When it becomes hard to leave the work stress at work, it’s time to talk to someone.

We’ve created a list of organisations that can help. Feel free to add comments if you work with or have sought help from an organisation you’d like to add to this list

The Drinks Trust is the community for the drinks industry, offering support and services to help its community thrive.

Hospitality Action work to provide hospitality workers with financial, physical and psychological support to help them overcome adversity and get back to work as quickly as possible.

The Care Workers Charity aims to advance the financial, professional and mental wellbeing of social care workers by making grants, signposting to resources and providing access to services.

The Burnt Chef Project is a non-profit social enterprise fully committed to making the hospitality profession healthier and more sustainable.

Hospitality Health is a Scottish organisation that helps those who are in need of support, by providing wellbeing advice and signposting organisations that can help. We hope we can make a difference, even to a few individuals.

Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.

Important Links

RSPH – Mental Health in Hospitality

NHS – Every Mind Matters

The Safer Food Group