Handling allergenic ingredients
As Coeliac disease is more widely understood gluten-free diets are increasingly popular.
At the same time, food allergies are growing more common, with UK admissions to hospital due to food allergies rising by more than 500% since 1990.
Due to the amount of ingredients used in a restaurant kitchen, allergen contamination can become a major risk. When handling the Food Information Regulation 14 allergenic foods, make sure everyone takes the following seriously...
- Label clearly using underlined text or contrasting colours - it must stand out!
- Avoid storing allergenic foods above other foods
- Make sure they are stored separately from each other and other materials
- Also make sure they would not contaminate other materials in case of spillage
- Separate work surfaces and designed utensils - use colour-coded equipment to minimise the risk of cross-contamination.
- Good hygiene - takes only a small amount of allergen, particularly nuts, to cause severe reactions through poor cleaning, cross-contamination and handwashing, so make sure you've got adequate products available and signage up
Cross-contamination can be caused by a number of factors, and ultimately it is everybody's responsibility to prevent in the kitchen.
There are two key areas you must take extra care with to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
Chopping boards are a typical breeding ground for harmful bacteria and need replacing more often than you may think. Anything that comes into contact with your food can cause contamination by spreading germs, which is one of the most common causes of food poisoning.
Are you guilty of only having two – one for raw and one for cooked? Risky business, professional kitchens should have the full set for good reason. Colour coded chopping boards are the simplest and most cost effective way to combat harmful bacteria and maintain a healthy kitchen.
Be honest, does your team wash their hands EVERY time they go to the toilet, handles waste, eat, drink, smoke, cough, sneeze, touch their hair, handle money?
People spread bacteria very quickly, even the ‘cleanest’ person carries bacteria that can grow from one bacterium to millions in a matter of hours. Get your front of house and back of house teams into good habits.