Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), restaurants and the food industry as a whole, are being hit hard. Operations have had to move to a delivery system as a revenue stream. Even though your kitchen may be out of sight, it doesn’t mean it is out of mind. You need to give diners assurance that your Chefs and kitchen staff are just as committed to keeping diners safe with the highest standard of hygiene in the kitchen.
After monitoring, receiving and storing your food, it is essential to avoid cross-contamination during preparation, cooking, serving and cooling. Calibrated thermometers should be used to monitor temperatures. The following guides are some of the best practices for food preparations:
Cross-contamination occurs when harmful bacteria are transferred from one food to another by means of a non-food surface, such as utensils, equipment or human hands. Cross-contamination can also occur food to food, such as when thawing meat drips on ready-to-eat vegetables.
- Follow proper handwashing guidelines. If plastic gloves are worn, hands should be washed before putting them on. Plastic gloves should be changed whenever changing tasks that could cause contamination. Improperly-used plastic gloves can contaminate foods as easily as bare hands can.
- Use clean and sanitised utensils and cutting boards when preparing food. Clean cutting boards thoroughly with hot soapy water, followed by a hot water rinse and a final sanitising step (1 tablespoon bleach per litre of water) after using.
- Store cooked food and raw food separately.
- Prepare batches of food no further in advance than necessary.
Cross-contamination between different types of food is often the cause of food poisoning. This can ruin your reputation and scare your customers away. Prevent cross-contamination by using different coloured chopping boards for each type of food group.
FOOD GROUP. COLOUR BOARD. Raw Red Meat Red Raw Fish Blue Raw Chicken Yellow Cooked Meat Brown Vegetables & Fruit Green Bakery & Dairy White
- Wash hands before beginning a task and after every interruption that could contaminate hands. The handwashing sink – not the prep sink – should be used.
- It is important to wash all vegetables because they can have traces of dirt or leftover pesticides. Always use water to wash ingredients and never wash them in the sink that is used for hand washing.
- Disassemble, clean and sanitise meat slicers (and other equipment) routinely. Wash, rinse and sanitise can openers. Wash and rinse tops of cans before opening.
- Thaw foods in refrigerator units, under cool running water or in a microwave oven (depending on the amount of food). If thawing foods under running water, do not allow thawed portions of raw animal foods to be above 5 °C for more than four hours.
- Thaw ready-to-eat foods above raw food, so the thaw water does not contaminate the ready-to-eat food.
- Cook microwave-thawed foods immediately.
- Frozen food, such as vegetables and seafood, may be cooked directly to the recommended internal temperature. Allow additional time for cooking. Large food items, such as whole chickens, should not be cooked from the frozen state.
Temperature is the most important part when it comes to heating food. Raw food must be properly cooked to kill microorganisms and destroy pathogens in food. Most microorganisms can survive up to 70 °C. When cooking food to a higher temperature the microorganisms die. So we must make sure we follow this rule:
- Heating foods to specified temperatures ensures microorganisms are destroyed.
- Remember to check the core temperature of the meal before serving.
- Some meat and fish are eaten raw or undercooked, for example; steak.
- These dishes must be fully cooked on the outside to make sure that the external bacteria are killed. If serving cold, remove from the refrigerator only just before serving.
- At very high temperatures, for example from 350 °C, the inner layer of pans can become loose and this means they start to release vapours that are dangerous. When cooking at these temperatures, it is best to use a nonstick pan.
COOKING WITH OIL.
Never heat fat or frying oil to a temperature higher than 180 °C, except oils that allow a higher temperature. Filter the fat and oil like normal and remove all food scraps.
Oil and fat must be changed when:
- There is a strong smell or taste.
- They are a dark-brown or black colour.
- They begin to smoke.
- They turn into something like syrup.
- There is foam on the food after adding.
- The amount used is lower than the minimum level of the pot or utensil that it is frying in.
- Fries and other dishes fail to stay crispy.