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The Law - learn

The most recent law governing food production and handling in the UK is the Food Hygiene (HACCP)
Regulations act of 2006.
The Food Hygiene Regulations 2006 was essentially very similar to the previous legislation passed 1995
which basically stated that all food handlers must be supervised, instructed and trained
in food hygiene matters to a level that is appropriate to their job. However the 2006 act also
had two important new inclusions:
1) A Food Safety Management System must be implemented and records kept
demonstrating compliance with the legal regulations.
2) Businesses must identify steps critical to food safety & ensure adequate procedures are
identified, implemented, maintained & reviewed using HACCP principles.

Cost of Poor Food Hygiene

There are now high potential fines and even imprisonment for hygiene and food safety offences in the
UK. Food hygiene offences can receive a fine of up to 5,000 and even receive a 6 month
prison sentence. More serious Food safety offenses carry a potential fine of up to 20,000 and
up to 2 years in prison.

The Law relating to Food Handlers

Food Safety Law states that food handlers must:

Keep themselves & their workplace clean, and wear suitable, clean protective
Store, prepare and display food at safe temperatures
Do everything possible to protect food from contamination
Inform their employer if they have symptoms of a food-borne illness

The Law also says food handlers must not:

Do anything that would expose food to contamination.
Sell food with an expired date mark or food unfit for human consumption

Employers and the Law

Owners and anyone who is in charge of food premises have greater legal responsibilities than food

Included in their responsibilities are ensuring that:

Premises registered with the local enforcement authority
Premises designed, equipped and operated in ways which prevent contamination and
anything that could lead to illness or injury
Ensuring adequate washing facilities and arrangements for personal hygiene
Ensuring all staff are trained and supervised to work hygienically
Food hazards are assessed and action taken to stop or reduce risks to food safety
(known as hazard analysis)
Every person that deals with food has a legal responsibility to safeguard food so that it does
not cause illness or harm.

Powers of the Local Authorities

Every local authority in the UK has the power to control the sale of unfit, injurious or sub-standard food.
Environmental Health Officers, (EHOs), have the power to enter any establishment to carry out an
inspection or seize samples at any reasonable time.
An EHO may also impose an improvement order, close down your business, fine and prosecute you.
It is illegal to prevent them from gaining access to your food premises. Failure to co-operate
with an EHO is a criminal offence.

Role of the EHO

If an Environmental Health Officer believes there is an imminent risk to peoples health, they will issue
a hygiene emergency prohibition notice and immediately close the business.

Your EHOs role is to:

Carry out routine inspections
Investigate food poisoning outbreaks
Investigate food complaints
Ensure product safety and fitness
Monitor conditions and hygienic operations
Ensure compliance with legislation
Offer advice
Take away suspect food and have it condemned if it is unsafe.
Take companies to court for breaking food safety laws.
Food handlers should co-operate with food inspectors and environmental health
officers and it is an offence to obstruct their inquiries.
An EHO may also impose the following:
Improvement orders.
Closing down your business.
Fines and prosecutions.
Seizure of food with enforced destruction.
They may also impose a prohibition order on the owner, preventing them from running any other
food business as well.
Please note that the EHO is actually there to help you. Their responsibility is to ensure that
the food you produce/sell/serve to the general public is safe.

Due Diligence
You will sometimes hear the words, Due Diligence. This means in Law that you have taken all
reasonable precautions, (shown due diligence), to ensure food safety.
You have done everything you possibly can to make sure that the food you serve is safe.
We will explain what we mean by all reasonable precautions, as we go through the course.
Written records are also a good way of proving due diligence. If you can prove that you have cooked
the food to the correct temperature, stored the food correctly, and served the food at the right temperature
within a set time limit, these can be used as a due diligence defence. Ask your manager what forms
you need to use.

Please read the following carefully, they are important examples of how Due Diligence works:

If for example you see signs of pest activity, (a rat), and then you report this to your supervisor, you have
shown due diligence. If your supervisor then decides to do nothing about it, any fine from the EHO, (5000
to 20,000) will be imposed on your supervisor, not you.
If you are ill and report this to your supervisor before starting work, you have shown due diligence. If your
supervisor then tells you to come to work, then once again, any fine from the EHO, (5000 to 20,000) will
be imposed on the supervisor not you.
Always remember that the Law is there to protect yourself and more importantly to ensure
that the food you produce/sell/serve to the general public is safe.

Microbiological Hazards - Bacteria - learn

Bacteria are life forms that are invisible to the naked eye, but live on and in our bodies and food. There are
thousands of different types of bacteria and many of them are useful bacteria. A few are very harmful and
can cause illness and encourage food to perish.
When food is contaminated it is impossible to see unless you look through a microscope. You
can't see, taste or smell bacteria.

Types of bacteria
It is important to remember though, that not all types of bacteria are harmful, most types of bacteria are
beneficial to humans and we would find it difficult to live without them. For this course we are splitting
bacteria into three groups; helpful bacteria, spoilage bacteria, and pathogenic

Helpful Bacteria - Helpful bacteria allows us to grow crops,

produce food including yoghurt, cheese and fizzy drinks. It allows us to digest the food we eat, create
medical drugs, and even treat sewage to make safe.
Spoilage Bacteria Spoilage bacteria makes food perish, known as spoilage, rotting, or decaying. A
good example of this is the green mould you will see on bread that is a few days old.
Pathogenic Bacteria Pathogenic bacteria is the name given to bacteria that can transmit illness
such as food poisoning & food-borne disease.

Sources of Bacterial contamination

How does contamination occur? The simplest or least processed food can go through several stages
before reaching the customer and there are some products that go through many stages before they are

The contamination can go right back to the first process in the chain, such as growing, slaughtering,
harvesting, processing, packing, delivering, storing, preparing, cooking, displaying, serving and selling.
Bacterial Contamination can occur when:

Raw foods are contaminated by bacteria found in the

natural environment.
Pathogenic bacteria are transferred from raw food to high risk food at any stage of
food handling.
Cross contamination occurs, ie when bacteria is carried by the food handlers hands,
utensils or from raw food to high risk food.
Bacterial contamination occurs when raw food comes into contact with high risk food. If you
touch raw food and then touch a high risk food without first washing your hands, you can easily spread
bacteria. Also when liquid or juices from raw food comes into contact with high risk food.

Vehicles of contamination
Bacteria can only travel very small distances on their own, so they need something or someone to help
them, anything that helps bacteria to travel is called a 'vehicle of contamination'.
People, animals, equipment, utensils are the most common vehicles of contamination.
Vehicles of contamination move pathogenic bacteria from a contaminated source, such as
raw meat, to a place where the conditions are ideal for multiplication.

Preventing bacterial contamination

Bacterial contamination is responsible for most cases of food poisoning and foodborne disease. It takes just a small number of pathogenic bacteria such as Campylobacter or E.coli
0157 to cause a food-borne disease.

It is particularly important to ensure that:

Raw and high risk foods are kept apart at all times
This includes storage, transporting, preparation, display and point of sale
All surfaces that come into contact with raw food are thoroughly cleaned and
disinfected after use
One good way to help prevent cross-contamination is to use colour coded preparation equipment, such as
chopping boards and knives. Each colour is designated for a particular use; red for raw red
meat, green for vegetables. This is a good idea as it helps remind food handlers to prepare raw and high
risk foods using separate equipment.

What do bacteria need to multiply?

When food poisoning bacteria spend enough time on the right types of food at ambient, (room),
temperatures, they can quickly multiply to dangerous levels.
The four main requirements bacteria need to multiply are 1 Food 2 Moisture 3 Warmth and 4

1. Food - Bacteria are like all living things, they need nutrients,
(food), to survive. Different types of food poisoning bacteria can live on a range of foods but most prefer
food that is moist and high in protein.
Examples are meat, poultry, eggs, shellfish, milk and dairy products, cooked rice, pasta and any product
made from the foods listed. All these foods are subject to bacterial growth even after they have been
cooked and served cold later.Such ready to eat items are classified as High-Risk Foods.
2. Moisture - Food poisoning bacteria must have moisture to stay alive. Bacteria will not multiply in
dried foods, but as soon as liquid is added to food like powdered milk, dried eggs, pasta, rice, then the
products will provide ideal conditions for bacteria to multiply. However if enough sugar or salt have been
added to foods such as bacon, biscuits, jam and confectionery, this will absorb the available moisture in
the food so the bacteria cannot multiply as easily.
Example. When you open the packet, the biscuits will be very dry. However, just watch what happens to
the biscuits if you leave then opened for a few days. They will go soggy as they take moisture from the air.
Once this happens, bacterial multiplication starts again.
3. Warmth - Most food poisoning bacteria multiply at temperatures between 5C and 63C, known
as the Danger Zone. Room temperature (ambient temperature) is usually within the Danger Zone.
The ideal temperature for bacteria to multiply is 37C, this is the average human body
temperature. When food is kept at temperatures colder than 5C or hotter than 63C,
bacterial growth slows down or stops. However, most bacteria can survive cold temperatures
and resume multiplication when conditions are more suitable, ie back in the Danger Zone.
Freezing will make bacteria dormant and kill many; however, it does not kill them all. When frozen food is
thawed it comes back into the Danger Zone and bacterial multiplication starts again.
4. Time - When food poisoning bacteria are left in warm conditions, (in the Danger Zone), on the right
type of food with adequate moisture, they will reproduce quickly.
Time is a critical point in preventing the multiplication of bacteria. Most types of food
poisoning bacteria take around 10 to 20 minutes to multiply. In a process known as Binary Fission, 1000
bacteria within 1 hour & 40 minutes will multiply to over 1 million bacteria!
If you stop or remove one of the 4 requirements (Food, Moisture, Warmth or Time) you will
stop the growth of bacteria.

Bacteria and the Danger Zone

Cooking at high temperatures kills most bacteria, provided that the food is cooked for long enough.
You must cook food for at least two minutes at 75C right through to the centre or the
thickest part of the food.

Some types of bacteria can survive even higher cooking temperatures and other harsh conditions like
dehydration or disinfection. The reason why is that they form spores, a protective coating or shell to
protect themselves.
Bacteria do not multiply when they are in spore form, but as soon as conditions improve, back into
the Danger Zone, the bacteria emerge from their spores and will resume multiplication.

Food is likely to be in the Danger Zone if:

It is kept at room temperature
Heated slowly or cooled slowly
Left in the sun, such as in a shop window
A hot sauce is poured onto cold food
The key to safe food is to ensure that the time taken from preparation, cooking through to serving is

kept to a minimum
Prepare the food ideally within 30 minutes (if not put it back in the fridge)
Cook the food for 2 minutes at 75C (to the centre or thickest part)
Serve the food within 20 minutes (or hot hold at above 63C)
Always remember do not keep food in the Danger Zone any longer than necessary. Keep hot food really
hot and cold food really cold.
Always remember the Danger Zone
is 5C to 63C.

High risk foods

High risk foods are usually high in protein & moisture. They must be stored separately in either fridge or
freezer, and are most commonly associated with food poisoning outbreaks.
Many high risk foods are ready to eat and as a result they may not be cooked before serving. If you
cannot cook them, you cannot destroy any bacteria that may be present. As a result, you must only leave
these food types in the Danger Zone for the shortest amount of time possible.

Examples of High Risk Foods are:

Cooked Meat & Poultry
Pates, savoury spreads, gravy, stews, meat pies, stock.
Milk, cream, custards, cakes with cream, ice cream, dairy products.
Soft Cheese & egg based products, mayonnaise, mousse, quiches.
Shellfish, mussels, oysters.
Cooked rice & pasta
Baby Foods, (once opened).
Remember that chilled & frozen storage slows down bacterial multiplication, and time from preparation
through to service is critical.

Low risk foods

By removing moisture, (with sugar or salt), or by using a vinegar, (pickle), you are effectively taking away
one of the four main elements that bacteria need to survive. It is rare for these foods to be associated with
food poisoning outbreaks.

Examples of Low Risk Foods are Jam, biscuits, dried foods, cereal, pasta, rice, flour, crisps, canned foods.
However, you need to be aware that once they are brought back into the Danger Zone, they can attract
moisture and bacterial multiplication starts again.
You may also cook a dry food such as rice, pasta, gravy, custard powder. Once you have added water,
(moisture), bacterial multiplication can resume.

What Is Food Poisoning? - learn

There are thousands of bacteria all around us that do no harm at all, but some known aspathogenic
bacteria are harmful and can cause illness.
The main culprits of food poisoning & carriers in the UK are :
Salmonella, accounting for 80% of cases (typically carried by chicken & eggs)
Staphylococcus Aureus, accounting for 5-15% of cases (typically carried by people)
Clostridium Perfringens, accounting for 1-4% of cases (typically carried in soil & animals)
Food poisoning is mainly caused by eating large numbers of pathogenic bacteria that are living on or in the
food. It takes many hundreds of thousands of bacteria to make you ill.
Other causes of food poisoning include:
Viruses living on and in people and animals
Moulds usually seen as spoilage on products such as bread
Chemicals such as cleaning chemicals and insecticides
Metals absorbed into food from unsuitable metal containers or lead/copper water pipes
Poisonous plants & fish, eg under-cooked red kidney beans, rhubarb leaves. Some mushrooms
such as toadstools. Some fish, including the Japanese Puffer Fish can kill you if not prepared properly.

Definition of food poisoning

Food poisoning is an acute illness of sudden onset caused by the consumption of food
containing poisonous micro-organisms (bacteria).
Onset Time:

1 36 hours from eating the contaminated food.


1 7 days


Abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea

Top 10 Causes of food poisoning

Food prepared too far in advance & stored at room temperature

(time in Danger Zone)
Cooling food too slowly, before being refrigerated/frozen/served
(time in Danger Zone)
Not re-heating food to a high enough temperature to kill bacteria
(82C for 2 minutes)
Using cooked food that has already been contaminated with food poisoning
Undercooking food, (food cooked below 75C for 2 minutes)
Not thawing frozen food correctly (typically poultry)

Cross contamination from Raw food to High-Risk foods

Eating raw foods such as eggs, fish & shellfish
Not storing hot food correctly (hot-holding at or above 63c)
Food Handlers infected or using poor hygiene standards
Always remember The Danger Zone
is 5c to 63c

How do bacteria multiply?

Bacterial food poisoning occurs if food is eaten after it has been contaminated by pathogenic
bacteria and conditions allow the bacteria to multiply to levels that cause illness.
Bacterial food poisoning also occurs if bacteria are not destroyed by adequate cooking.
Bacteria reproduce by dividing. This process is called Binary fission.
Bacteria only needs ten to twenty minutes to multiply, it is therefore possible for one bacteria to produce
3.2 million bacteria in less than 2 hours.
Most pathogenic bacteria make us ill when they pass into our bodies. But some bacteria such as
Staphylococcus aureus produce toxins in food even before we eat it. You are therefore likely to feel ill
shortly after consuming it.

There are other bacteria which make us ill by forming spores, protective coating which allows the

bacteria to survive very harsh conditions, such as cooking that would normally destroy the bacteria.
A spore is a clever defence mechanism designed to protect the bacteria from
conditions such as cold or high temperatures.
Spores are a protective shell that protects the bacteria in hot & cold situations,
once the food comes back into the Danger Zone the bacteria starts again to multiply.

The best defence is to reduce the time from preparation to service. In other words, do not give the bacteria
the time it needs to multiply to a dangerous level.
Bacteria found in rice is particularly effective at forming spore resistance and will not be
killed by reheating, so never store and reheat cooked rice.

Toxins can be formed when the bacteria is destroyed.
Toxins are a defence method. Once you kill the bacteria, it releases a toxin, (poison), from its cell wall.
Toxins can be resistant to heat and may require cooking at high temperatures for a long time.

The best defence against toxin forming bacteria is:

Always use a reputable food supplier
Prepare / cook /serve quickly to reduce the time bacteria has to multiply
Good personal hygiene of food handlers

Food Borne Disease

Some illnesses are passed on to humans by micro-organisms that are carried on the food or water. Many
pathogenic micro-organisms are transported by water.

The food is the only method of transport. Bacteria does not need the food to grow or
Examples of food borne disease include:

Campylobacter Enteritis
Escherichia coli 0157, (E.Coli)
Tuberculosis (TB) - (Untreated Milk)
The incubation period can be days, weeks or months. The illness can last for one or two
days, or continue for years as the infection can invade the blood stream, and induce long-term
health problems.
Other symptoms can be kidney failure or paralysis, which can lead to death. Symptoms of
food-borne disease are sometimes similar to bacterial food poisoning.
Food Borne disease does not need the food to multiply it only uses the food as a vehicle, (a
host) to enter your body. Food Borne disease takes longer for the symptoms to show, but the
illness will be more severe and will take longer to cure.
Bacterial Food Poisoning is very different to Food Borne Disease. Unlike Bacterial Food
Poisoning, Food Borne Disease takes just a few of these micro-organisms to make
you ill. Bacterial Food Poisoning takes many more bacteria.

Does this really involve me?

Everyone who works in the food industry has a responsibility for safeguarding the health of our customers.
Staff must ensure the food they prepare & serve does not cause illness, injury or any other problems. Food
handlers have a legal obligation to produce & keep food Safe to eat. This means everyone, no

How Can We Control Food Poisoning? - learn

In this part of the course we will look at ways to destroy bacteria with temperature control.
By keeping food under proper temperature control you will destroy most food poisoning bacteria.
Temperature control is cutting down the amount of time high risk food is kept in the danger zone and using
high temperatures to kill bacteria.

The Basic Rules of Good Practice are:

Restrict the time that high risk foods spend in Danger Zone temperatures
Keep cold food cold, 5C or colder to stop bacteria from multiplying
Keep hot food hot, at 63C or hotter to stop bacteria from multiplying
The longer high risk food is at Danger Zone temperatures, the more chances bacteria have
to multiply to levels that cause food poisoning.

Food will be in the Danger Zone if left in ambient temperatures, (room temperature).
Food passes through the Danger Zone while it is being cooled, thawed or heated.

Heres a checklist of must-do items for controlling food poisoning:

Check temperatures as food is delivered to your workplace (use a probe
Refrigerate raw, highly perishable & high risk foods immediately after delivery
Keep food refrigerated until it is needed for preparation or serving.
Cook food for at least 2 minutes at 75c right through to the centre or the
thickest part of the food (82c for 2 minutes in Scotland)*
Serve hot food at 63C or hotter
Cool food rapidly, so that food spends as little time as possible in the Danger Zone.
Thaw frozen food in a refrigerator so that the outside temperature of the food
cannot reach Danger Zone temperatures whilst the inside is still frozen.
Re-heat food adequately to 82c to kill most bacteria.
Serve within 20 minutes once the food has been prepared or cooked
*Cooking food at 75C for 2 minutes will kill most of the bacteria. If you cook below this temperature,
bacteria have a better chance of survival and this can lead to food poisoning.

Checking Temperatures
Temperatures must be monitored and recorded.
All food businesses must check food temperatures regularly and keep records of the readings.
If it is your job to check a temperature, you must be trained on how to do so and told which temperatures
are unsafe and what action, corrective actions), you must take if a reading is unsafe. Remember
that poor temperature control leads to food poisoning.

Problems are usually caused by:

Preparing food too far in advance and keeping it at ambient temperatures
Leaving food at ambient temperatures instead of refrigerating it
Cooling food too slowly before refrigeration
Re-heating food inadequately
Under-cooking meat and poultry
Thawing frozen food insufficiently
Holding food at temperatures below 63c for periods of time that allow bacterial
Always remember the Danger Zone 5c to 63c

When you cook food, it must be hot enough to its core. Most bacteria are destroyed at temperatures
of 75c or hotter when the core temperature is held for at least 2 minutes.
Always check the centre temperature of food near the end of the cooking period, (using a probe
thermometer), because the outside may be cooked while the centre of the food remains in the Danger
Try to cut large joints of meat and poultry into smaller portions to ensure they cook evenly through to the
centre. Always cook stuffing separately so it does not prevent the meat or poultry from cooking through to
the centre.
Stir stews and casseroles during cooking to make sure there are no cool spots at temperatures in
the Danger Zone. In manufacturing, food is often produced in identical portions so as to ensure that
every item is cooked safely.

Hot Holding Food

At some stage you will probably want to keep food hot as you serve over a lunchtime or dinner period.
You must keep the food, (hot hold), at a minimum temperature of 63c. This will allow the food to be
protected against bacterial multiplication.
A good idea is to stir the food if possible. This way you will not get any cold spots. (Where the temperature
can allow bacteria to multiply)
The best way to hot hold is to use a bain-marie or under heat lamps on a service counter. Make sure you
check the food temperature regularly.
At the end of service it is recommended that you throw away any left-over food. If you do want to store and
re-heat at the next service, make sure you protect the food in suitable covered containers, allow to cool,
and store in either the fridge or freezer.
Remember that you cannot re-heat food more than once.

Cooling Hot Food

Hot food passes through the Danger Zone temperature as it cools, so the temperature must be reduced as
quickly as possible.
The best way to cool food is in a blast chiller, as this shortens the time the food spends in the Danger
Zone. However, most small businesses may not have a blast chiller. Therefore you should aim to cool the
food to 5C or colder within 90 minutes and thenrefrigerate it.
Before refrigerating, transfer the food to a clean, cold container, make sure it is covered and move it to the
coolest part of the food area.
Never place hot food in the refrigerator as this will raise the temperature of the fridge and
cause condensation that could contaminate other food. Whenever possible use large shallow trays and
pans for cooling food in liquid, because the large surface area helps to accelerate the cooling process.
Remove cooked meat joints and whole chickens from their juices before placing them in a clean container
with enough space to allow air to circulate.
Cover and protect all food from contamination while it is cooling.

Thawing Frozen Food

Raw foods such as meat and poultry must be completely thawed before cooking.Inadequate
thawing can result in food poisoning.

Heres a quick guide to thawing frozen food:

If ice remains in poultry or meat, the surface of the food may cook while the inside
temperature remains in the Danger Zone.
Wherever possible thawing should take place in a thawing cabinet or in a refrigerator
set aside for this purpose.
If you have to use a fridge, always put the food you are thawing on the bottom shelf
to prevent the juices dripping onto other foods and cross-contaminating them.
Place the food in a container that will hold the thawing juices, without
overflowing or dripping.

Microwave ovens can be useful for thawing, provided that the manufacturer's
instructions are followed carefully.
Always plan your work so as to give food ample time to defrost completely.
Cover food as it is thawing to prevent contamination
Never re-freeze thawed food.

Re-Heating Food
Re-heated food is a common cause of food poisoning. Problems occur if the food is not re-heated
Only remove food from the refrigerator just before re-heating or serving, and always follow instructions on
prepared food. (Pre-cooked pies etc.)
It is good practice to re-heat food to a core temperature of at least 82C for 2 minutes. If food does
not get hot enough, you will provide bacteria with an ideal temperature in which to multiply. Finally, never
re-heat food more than once and throw away any leftovers of re-heated food.

Displaying Food

Front of House Top Tips:

Food displayed for sale or service must be protected against all sources of
Packaged food must be securely wrapped
If possible do not allow customers to handle open food
Open food must be covered by lids or protected by a sneeze guard
In self-service areas, there should be food servers such as tongs, spoons or slices
available to prevent customers touching the food with their hands
Make sure there is an adequate supply of forks and serving tongs & change regularly
Serving utensils must be inspected and changed regularly. Especially Ice Cream
Keep high risk and low risk foods separate
Regularly clean the service area
Regularly check temperatures. The use of a digital thermometer in front of customers
will further add confidence that you are supplying safe food
All plates and cups must be free from chips or cracks
Never re-use bread that has been placed on the table
Keep condiments, (sauces, ketchup), clean and covered if possible
Label menus correctly if there are any allergenic ingredients, (eg Nuts)
Where staff use scales to weigh raw meat, poultry, fish or any high risk food, they
should place a clean sheet of food paper on the weighing platform first
Try to have one person collecting money; if not make sure you wear gloves and
change them between handling food and money

Spoilage & Prevention - learn

Gradually all food will deteriorate through the natural process of ageing, this is called spoilage.
As soon as you dig up a vegetable, take a fruit from its branch or kill an animal, it stops living and
starts to deteriorate. You must then either eat it very quickly or find a way to preserve it until it can
be eaten.

People have used different techniques for thousands of years, such as salting, smoking and drying to slow
down spoilage and to prolong the length of time the food is safe. We will now look at the part, modern
prevention methods play in food safety.
Spoilage starts from the moment the food is harvested or slaughtered because of the
action of micro-organisms, in particular spoilage bacteria and fungi including mould and yeast.
Some foods spoil faster than others but the spread of deterioration can be controlled by preservation
methods and safe food handling practices.
Food spoilage may also be accelerated by damage caused by careless handling,
inappropriate storage, i.e. poor temperature control and contamination by pests or

Many people love to eat mushrooms but are unaware that mushrooms are a fungus.
Other fungi are used in food production, for example certain types of mould help to produce blue-veined
cheese such as Stilton. Other types are yeasts which are used for making bread, beer and vinegar.
However, the presence of unwanted yeast or mould, some of which produce toxins, can spoil food, making
it unfit for human consumption.

Recognising Spoilt Food

Spoilt food is sometimes easy to recognise. Typical signs include, discolouration, including dark or pale
Visible mould changes and the smell, often unpleasant. (Eg. Bread). Changes in texture, including
wrinkling and drying, softening and becoming pulpy.
Alteration to the usual flavour, including sourness. Some other conditions that accelerate spoilage such as
poor temperature control, this also encourages food poisoning bacteria to multiply.
You will probably have at least once in your life seen bread with green mould spots on it. This is one of the
most visible sign of mould.
For the mould to have become visible to the naked eye, it will have had to reach many, many millions of
bacteria. If you can see mould in one part of a loaf of bread, you must destroy the whole loaf. Even if
you cannot see if elsewhere, the bacteria will be present and growing!

The problems of serving or selling spoilt food include:

Causing a food-borne illness.
Breaking the law, because it is illegal to sell unfit food.
Gaining a poor reputation by serving food that is unappetising.
Offering food that has lost most of its nutritional value.

Signs of Spoilage
Meat/Poultry - Slime, discolouration, sour, odour & flavour, white spots & black spots
Fish - Off odour, discolouration
Vegetables - Soft rot, foul odour, discoloration, black spots

Raw milk - Off flavour & odour, rancidity

Pasteurised milk - Off odours & flavours, bitty cream

Preventing Spoilage
The bacteria, yeasts and moulds that cause spoilage need food, moisture, warmth and time to
reproduce. All the same steps taken to prevent bacterial contamination and multiplication are also needed
to delay food spoilage.
Covering food, cleanliness, temperature, moisture levels and the length of time in storage all play a part in
delaying spoilage and keeping food safe and appetising to eat.

Organoleptic Checks
This may sound complicated, however, all this means is the normal checks you can carry out.
Organoleptic means touch, taste, smell, and visual checks.
If a food product does not smell right, tastes off or has signs of spoilage, mould etc. you must immediately
throw it away.

A number of preservation methods delay spoilage or kill the spoilage bacteria that can make food unfit to

The Main Methods of Preservation are:

Heat treatment in cooking, canning, bottling, sterilising, pasteurising and ultra heat
treatment (UHT).
Freezing and refrigeration
Drying (dehydration)
Chemical preservation, such as curing, salting and pickling.
Vacuum sealing, vacuum packing.
Smoking, especially ham and sausages.
Typical Examples of Preservation are:
Milk for example can be pasteurised heated to 63C for 30 minutes.
This will preserve the milk for approx. 3 to 5 days and retain most of its flavour.
You can also use ultra heat treatment (UHT).
This will preserve the milk for approx. 12 months, however, it will also affect the taste and you basically
end up with something that looks like milk and tastes similar to water!
Please remember that once opened, you must treat UHT milk as you would pasteurised milk.
Botulinum Cook
Many major manufacturers cook their canned foods at very high temperatures.
This is called a botulinum cook and is at 121C for 3 minutes and will affect the taste of the food but
essentially kill all bacteria and also allow you to store at ambient, (room temperature). Typical examples of
this would be Heinz Soup, Spaghetti, Baked Beans

Drying & Smoking

An example of this is dried fish. The reason for drying or smoking is to remove one of the four elements
bacteria needs to survive, moisture.
Freezing & Refrigeration
As we have already discussed, both of these methods are designed to slow down the multiplication of
bacteria by removing the food from the danger zone.
Chemical preservation
Salt & sugar have been used for thousands of years as a method to protect food.
They work by drawing moisture away and therefore removing one of the four elements bacteria needs to
An example of this would be a biscuit. Please note if you leave a biscuit exposed to the conditions of a
kitchen, you will notice that the biscuit goes soggy. This is because the dry biscuit is absorbing moisture
from the atmosphere. Once the biscuit is soggy, bacteria can start to multiply.
A good method as bacteria cannot survive in high acidic liquids, such as vinegar.
Vacuum (sealing & packing)
This is designed to remove all air from a food and to seal and protect it.
Once any type packaging is opened, you will be exposing the food to the four elements
bacteria need to survive and the contents must be stored and handled as if they were fresh.
Remember, Its your responsibility to ensure that spoilt or unfit food is not served / sold to the public. If you
think a food is unsafe, you must report this immediately to your supervisor or manager. Remember the
phrase Due Diligence.

Date Marks
Food must be labelled with a date indicating the period when the food is safe to eat.
For example, Best Before End / Use By / Display Until
It is against the law to alter a date mark without re-treating or processing the food correctly.
Highly perishable packaged food, such as cooked meat, fish and dairy products, must be marked with a
use by date.
Less perishable items, such as frozen food, dried fruit, flour, cakes, cereals and canned food, must carry a
best before date.
Once any type of packaging is opened, you will be exposing the food to the four elements
bacteria need to survive and the contents must be stored and refrigerated plus used within
specified time on the container.'

Physical & Chemical Hazards Plus Allergens - learn

Physical contamination is when anything falls onto or into food.

Physical hazards include foreign bodies such as glass, nails, plasters, cigarette ash, dirt, bones,
flaking paint from walls, cardboard, plastic, wood, rust, string, staples or other metals
Physical hazards may be brought into food areas with raw materials or can be introduced during
preparation, service, storage and display.
People are a common source of physical contaminants, such as nails, hair, jewellery and
cigarette ash. Pests are another common source, such as bird droppings, feathers,
larvae/eggs, & dead bodies.
Contamination can also occur quite easily by customers. Think about your service area, particularly when
it is self-service.

Some important points to consider:

Can customers cough on food, drop things on the food, touch the food and then put it
back? (this can also cause cross-contamination)
Is the food on display, open?
Or is the food covered to prevent physical hazards contaminating the food?
Sometimes sabotage can happen as well, from either a customer or a member of
Such things may include razor blades or needles being put in food for fraud and
malicious reasons.

Physical Controls
Premises - Controls start with the correct design of premises. Premises need to be maintained with old
equipment replaced as necessary. Grease and oil are physical contaminants, and food grade lubricant
should always be used.
Staff & clothing- Staff must be trained to use all equipment properly and report defects and faults.
Protective clothing must be worn by all food handlers, with no outside pockets and buttons that may fall
into food.
Unpacking food - Food should always be unpacked in a separate area to the food area that has open
Pests - Pests can be prevented by using screens at doors and windows. Fly insecticutors should not be
anywhere there is open food (dead flies could physically drop on the foods and contaminate it). Ideally
they should be placed near external doors.
Glass - Glass should never be allowed in food rooms and preparation areas. A glass breakage policy
should be in place in your food business. Any glass breakage must be reported to your supervisor.
Wood - Wood must also NOT be used. Wood can only be used for a butchers block and you will need
a special licence.

Containers should always be checked before use to observe any physical hazard that could contaminate
the food in the container.
Any re-usable containers must be thoroughly cleaned before re-use, along with checking for any cracks or
chips which can harbour bacteria. Wherever possible, containers should be made from plastic.

Chemical Hazards

Chemical contamination can occur if raw food or deliveries are contaminated with chemicals, pesticides or
excessive preservatives and mould inhibitors.
Contamination can also occur if cleaning chemicals are misused, not rinsed properly or used in the wrong

Key points on chemical hazards:

Approved suppliers must always be used.
Chemicals should be delivered separately from a food order.
Chemicals should be stored in a separate, preferably locked cupboard
Chemicals should NEVER be transferred to other non-marked containers
Chemicals should ALWAYS be used in conjunction with the manufacturers
Cleaning and chemical pesticides should never be used near open food. You must remove
and cover, (protect food), before using a fly spray or any anti-bacterial sprays.
As a food handler, you must not use strong aftershaves or perfumes, as these can contaminate food. ALL
soap used for hand washing should be un-perfumed.

Allergenic Hazards
Click HERE to download the FSA EHO Allergenic Checklist.
Allergens are substances which cause the bodys immune system to respond, sometimes in severe ways.
When this is severe it can result in anaphylactic shock and sometimes even death.

Symptoms can include:

Severe asthma
Swelling of the throat and mouth
Difficulty in swallowing
Redness of the skin
Nausea and sickness

Allergenic Foods include:

Any nuts, particularly peanuts, groundnuts, hazelnuts, sesame seeds.
Milk based products.
Shellfish e.g. scallops.
Cereal containing gluten.

Allergenic Controls

1. Communication Methods
Clear labelling on all food products
Menu description of any allergenic product
Knowledge of products
All staff suitably trained

2. Contamination Prevention
Approved suppliers
Allergenic foods kept separate from other foods
Use separate preparation areas and utensils
If any other food products become contaminated destroy straight away.

3. Cleaning to prevent Allergenic Cross-Contamination

Food Handler hand washing before and after preparation
Thorough cleaning of work surfaces and utensils before and after preparation

If a customer is having an anaphylactic shock, you must:

Keep the customer in one place

Call an ambulance immediately
Stay with the person and re-assure them
All staff must be aware of these procedures.