Legislation today provides much clearer requirements in certain areas such as thawing and cooling of foods, with a requirement to keep chemical storage out of the kitchen.
Since 2006, food hygiene regulations state that all UK food and drink businesses must put in place a ‘Food Safety Management System’ (FSMS) based on HACCP principles.
This applies to all food businesses large and small including caterers, primary producers (such as farmers), manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
The key points in current legislation are those of ensuring segregation and cold-chain maintenance throughout the operation, together with the monitoring of temperatures when necessary.
The temperature-control limits are 8°C for chilling and 63°C for hot food, with Scottish difference. Cheeseboards and
sweet trolleys are considered safe with a four-hour rule for placing food out on display.
In terms of chilling, here are some top tips:
– Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on using all equipment, particularly in the case of refrigeration to ensure safe temperatures are maintained.
– Chilled food must be kept at 8°C or below. Commercial refrigeration for fridge applications is set at +1°C/+4°C. This creates a temperature gradient that ensures product core temperature remains below guideline recommendations.
– Domestic equipment is designed with lower cooling duty requirements, meaning it simply cannot cope with the regular door opening of a busy catering environment to ensure temperature maintenance.
– Purchase a decent probe thermometer and probe wipes. Larger businesses may be advised to invest in a temperature monitoring system.
– If you chill food down regularly, it may be advisable to purchase a blast chiller to ensure you do this safely. Some manufacturers offer blast chillers specially designed to meet the needs of smaller catering outlets.
This provides you with the means of chilling food down safely within the appropriate time frames without compromising on quality, taste or appearance.
– If you defrost lots of food in your business, you may wish to consider purchasing a special thaw cabinet, particularly if the food being thawed is high risk, such as poultry.
Some refrigeration equipment companies supply a cabinet specially designed for this purpose, which works by alternating between circulating gentle heat and refrigeration (via special air conducting and fans) ensuring a safe, even and speedy thaw.
For further information on HACCP compliance and refrigeration, click HERE.
Foster Refrigerator is the Platinum Partner sponsor of the Refrigeration category of FEJ Kitchen Excellence Week. For information about Foster and its sister company Gamko, call 01553 691122 or visit www.fosterrefrigerator.com