When working in the foodstuff industry, it is imperative that companies follow Food & Hygiene regulations to the letter. The risk of contamination must be identified and stamped out as causing illness or injury to a customer through poor food standards can cause massive damage to the good reputation of a company and its standing within the food industry.
This is especially true of meat vendors, such as Humza, who must ensure proper practices at all times to prevent the possibility of cross contamination between raw and pre-cooked foodstuffs, as well as doing all they can to ensure clean and decontaminated workspace to reduce the risk of disease such as salmonella and E.Coli.
Practices such as keeping raw meat away from cooked meat, and not re-heating white meats such as chicken, are Food and Hygiene regulations for a reason, yet many traders in the food industry neglect even these simple practices. One of the simplest ways to prevent foodborne illness is to regularly wash your hands, both before and after handling any foodstuffs, but especially when handling raw meat. Following this simple guideline can eliminate many of the potential risks that come from handling food, ensuring that as little bacteria as possible is spread. If even this simple guideline is not followed, food can become contaminated with external bacteria that can cause illness upon being ingested.
Salmonella is one of the most common bacterial problems when working with foodstuffs. The bacteria can be spread both through direct and indirect contact and the bacteria can multiply at an astonishing rate, especially in uncooked food, specifically poultry and eggs, when it is kept at room temperature. It is one of the leading foodborne illnesses and is even responsible for death in some cases. The existence of such a bacteria is proof in itself for the need for basic food hygiene standards.
Hand washing and correct storage of poultry and eggs is all it takes to ensure that this bacteria doesn’t spread, and can save a huge amount on healthcare and provide customer satisfaction in the process. Keeping raw meats at room temperature is a ridiculous policy that leaves the food open to the spread of a multitude of different bacteria. All raw meat should be kept refrigerated at temperatures below 5 Degrees Celsius to minimise the multiplication rate of the bacteria that can cause salmonella. Additionally, and it bears repeating again, hands must be washed thoroughly both before and after handling any raw meats or eggs to eliminate the risk of cross contamination.
Many companies fail to follow even these simply food and hygiene standards, but doing this puts them in direct contradiction of the Food Hygiene Regulations set out by the government. The Regulations provide a simple set of guidelines in relation to the premises of any business that deals in food;
• Be clean and maintained in good repair;
• Be designed and constructed to permit good hygiene practices;
• Have an adequate supply of portable (drinking) water;
• Have suitable controls in place to protect against pests;
• Have adequate natural and/or artificial lighting;
• Have sufficient natural and/or mechanical ventilation;
• Provide clean lavatories which do not lead directly into food rooms;
• Have adequate hand-washing facilities;
• Be provided with adequate drainage.
These simple standards are so often not followed by companies who simply do not wish to invest the little extra effort to ensure that their customers are not put at risk from the possibility of contaminated food. This is a problem that simply does not exist with Humza. We work hard to maintain all of the standards set out by the Food Hygiene Regulations provided by the Government, however we would like to see an improvement in all areas of the foodstuff trade.
As suppliers, our name still has the potential to be dragged through the mud; no matter how impeccable our credentials are, if the caterers we supply to do not follow Food & Hygiene practices. Caterers and food vendors have as much as a responsibility as their suppliers in ensuring that the food they sell is safe for human consumption. This means they must;
- Store Food in correct conditions at all times
- Cook food properly
- Prepare food properly
- Follow the basic sanitation guidelines above
Humza Foods is one of the leading suppliers of Halal frozen foods, and we have attained this mantle due to our impeccable following of basic food and safety standards. We implore all companies that we supply to follow similar standards, else your business, and the Halal food industry in general, will suffer.
Many food vendors in the Chinatown area of Westminster were found to be failing in their duty to ensure the quality of their food before sale. Many businesses within the area were subject to complaints, prosecutions, closures and notices due to the poor hygiene regulations employed by them. 33 businesses in the area were identified as being extremely problematic.
This became such a problem for the area that the local council were forced to set up an initiative in which they enlisted each problematic business to a course in food hygiene to teach them the basics of preparing and handling delicate foodstuffs. The council have since seen a 98% pass rate from local businesses within this initiative.
Humza Foods sincerely believes that it should not come to this. Basic food and hygiene standards should be standard practice for all traders in foodstuffs from day one and we endeavour to ensure that both we and the companies that we supply to maintain top quality practices in food hygiene to reduce the risk of infectious foodborne diseases spreading.
Author - Lee Price