While food and hospitality can be prone to fashion, fads and modern technology, the basic food safety and hygiene rules of working in a kitchen haven’t changed for decades, if not a century. These are some food safety and hygiene procedures you probably learned years ago but are always worth a refresh:
Keep your work area clean and organised: A cluttered work area might say that you're super busy or having a creative moment but it can also increase the risk of accidents and injuries. Make sure your work area is clean and free of any clutter - and by clutter we mean anything not part of what you are currently doing. Keep countertops and floors clean and dry to prevent slips and falls.
Use knives and other sharp tools safely: You might have a signature chopping style or like to make a point with the aid of a blade but never leave your precious knives or other sharp objects lying around on countertops or in the sink. Always use sharp knives and other tools, as dull ones can be more dangerous. Use cutting boards to protect your countertop and always cut away from your body.
Handle hot items with care: Cooks and Chefs are notorious for having Teflon fingers and while potholders sound like something your grandmother would use, oven mitts should always be used when handling hot pots and pans. Never put your hands or fingers near hot burners or elements. Always allow hot items to cool before touching them.
Be careful with appliances: The how-to or manufacturer's instructions are probably lost or hidden somewhere safe but should really be followed when using appliances, and while it sounds like Common-sense 101: never stick your hands or fingers inside a kitchen appliance! Especially when it’s on. Always unplug appliances when not in use and keep them away from water and other liquids.
Practice good food safety: Store food properly, wash your hands before and after handling all food, and use separate cutting boards for raw meat and other foods to prevent cross-contamination. Cook food to the proper temperature to prevent foodborne illness.
Cleaning and hygiene: Thanks to COVID, the rest of the world finally caught up to sanitary practices that good kitchens have followed for decades. All surfaces, utensils, and equipment should be cleaned and sanitised regularly to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria. Staff should be trained on proper cleaning procedures and schedules.
Fire safety: So, cooking over flaming grills and hot coals might be all the rage, but the flames should be contained to those cooking areas and not elsewhere in the kitchen, right? All staff members should be trained in fire safety procedures, including using fire extinguishers and evacuating the kitchen in the event of a fire.
Clothing: Chefs' jackets may denote hierarchy or status in a kitchen - which is important - but they first and foremost offer protection. Chef jackets are designed to be made of breathable materials but also thick enough to protect the skin from burns caused by hot liquids or steam. The double-breasted front is an extra layer against splashes and spills. They are typically made from materials that should show stains, so they are washed, promoting good hygiene. Everyone working in a kitchen should wear appropriate clothing: at the very least, an apron and in some circumstances, even safety glasses and gloves.
Equipment safety: All equipment should be well-maintained and checked regularly for any faults or hazards. Staff should be trained on the proper use of equipment and how to handle any potential hazards.
Chemical safety: All (cleaning) chemicals should be stored in a separate, locked area, away from food and equipment. Staff should be trained on the proper use of chemicals, including how to handle them and how to dispose of them safely.
Following these basic food safety and hygiene rules in the kitchen can help reduce the risk of accidents and injuries in your kitchen or workplace.
At Chef Works, we are driven by those who are inspired by all things culinary. Fueled by the belief that every culinary professional deserves the right apparel and tools to enhance the work they do. We understand that the recipe for excellence goes far beyond simple ingredients.
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