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Hygiene Standards: The Food and Drink Industry

Hygiene standards within the food and drink industry are stringent at normal times to ensure the safety of consumers. Now, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has issued further guidelines for food businesses.

Although the Food Standards Agency has stressed it is "very unlikely" that people can catch coronavirus from food, adhering to hygiene and safety legislation remains paramount at all times. The laws apply in public shops selling food, in restaurants, takeaways, the food manufacturing industry and transportation.

Food industry

© mavideniz / Adobe Stock


Key guidelines

There are four key requirements when it comes to food hygiene - known as The 4Cs: cleaning, cooking, chilling and cross-contamination. Food areas and equipment must be cleaned thoroughly and disinfected between different tasks; particularly where raw food has been prepared.

Employees must clean as they go, especially if food is spilled - this must be cleared up immediately. The cleaning and disinfectant products must be appropriate for the job and instructions must be followed.

Cooking food properly kills harmful bacteria and prevents food poisoning. All raw meats should be cooked thoroughly. Before serving them, you should check they are steaming hot all the way through, that there is no pink meat inside and that any juices run clear.

Chilling, freezing and defrosting food safely will stop harmful bacteria from forming. Foods that must be kept chilled include cooked dishes, food with a "use-by" date and ready-to-eat foods, such as prepared salads and desserts.

Frozen food should be put in the freezer as soon as it has been delivered. If you're freezing fresh food, put it in your freezer as soon as it has been prepared. Ideally, frozen food should be defrosted in the fridge to keep it at a safe temperature until it has defrosted thoroughly.

Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria is spread between food, equipment and surfaces. It's most likely to occur when raw food, particularly meat, touches or drips on to prepared ready-to-eat food. It also occurs when the same equipment is used for raw and cooked food and when chopping boards are not cleaned properly.


Personal hygiene

Personal hygiene is particularly important to prevent cross-contamination. If staff don't wash their hands thoroughly after handling raw food, they will spread bacteria to anything else they touch. Cross-contamination is one of the biggest causes of food poisoning.

People should always wash their hands thoroughly when preparing and cooking food. Although COVID-19 is not known to be transmitted through food, or food packaging, employees in the food industry must take good care of their own health.

The new government guidelines state any food-handler who feels unwell shouldn't go into work. If they have any symptoms of coronavirus, however mild, they must follow government advice and stay at home.

People handling food should observe good hygiene practices, like everyone else, washing their hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time. This must be done routinely, before and after handling food. It should also be done after being in a public place before touching food again.

Food business companies should follow the regular hygiene advice from the Food Standard Agency and also the organisation's Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point processes.

The FSA has stated it supports current measures to allow privileged, safe access to supermarkets and other food businesses for elderly, vulnerable people and essential workers, such as NHS employees.


Disinfectant matting

Coruba is a leading supplier of a wide range of rubber matting, including disinfectant matting, which is suitable for commercial food and drink areas.

The mats have thousands of flexible rubber protrusions, which dislodge any contaminants from people's feet as they step on them. Disinfectant is poured into the matting and held in place by deep wells. When people step on the mat, the protrusions bend, dipping the sole of the shoe into the disinfectant and preventing contamination from entering the protected area.

For further information, contact Coruba on 01702 560194, email info@coruba.co.uk, or use our online contact form.

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