A food safety certificate incorporates essential tips for food safety that help to keep you and those around you safe. Whether you work in the food industry, or you cook for your family, having a sound food safety knowledge is paramount.
Around 200,000 people are struck down with food poisoning or a foodborne illness every year. If you follow the three Cs – cook, clean, and chill, you may be able to keep yourself and others safe from bugs in food. Here’s what you need to know about the three Cs – and more.
The first C - ‘Clean’ - can incorporate both handwashing and cooking tool cleanliness. Before you handle food, you need to wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Use a nail brush to clean under your nails and use either paper towels or a clean hand towel to dry them.
You should also make sure you clean your hands every time you go to the toilet, handle animals, touch meat or poultry, do a spot of gardening, or anything else that could make them dirty.
Once your hands are clean, you can focus on your cooking tools. Always make sure you wash your benches, surfaces, chopping boards, and utensils with soap and water before you begin food preparation. If you switch between raw and cooked food, repeat the cleaning process in between times.
There are many other things you need to incorporate into the cleaning process as well. You can’t neglect food storage containers, sponges, cloths, and chopping boards either. Many food safety certificate training courses incorporate the dos and don’ts of cleanliness in the kitchen.
If you use sponges and cloths instead of single-use cleaning products, you need to be fastidious with hygiene. Once you are finished with them, rinse them off and soak them in a dish of water with household bleach. A hot wash in the dishwasher is also an effective cleaning process.
You can clean benches and boards with a teaspoon of bleach in two litres of water once you have wiped it down.
When you clean dishes and food containers, put them in a dishwasher or use hot, soapy water. Allow them to air dry rather than use a towel.
Finally, be aware of cross-contamination – something you will become familiar with during a food safety certificate. Keep ready-to-eat food, fruit, and vegetables away from raw chicken and meat, and store it at the bottom of the fridge. Cover all stored food.
‘Clean’ is an essential part of the food preparation process, but so is the second C – ‘cook’. You must always cook food thoroughly to kill harmful bacteria. If you are preparing food from the freezer, defrost it in your fridge or make use of a microwave’s ‘defrost’ function.
You must then cook sausages, mince, and chicken until it’s fully cooked and the juices run clear. Put a meat thermometer into the thickest part. If it’s cooked, it should read 75 degrees-Celsius. Once it’s cooked, you can reheat it once more safely to that same temperature.
Whatever you are cooking, make sure you use one set of utensils for each type of raw and cooked food. Never reuse either utensils or plates for raw or cooked food. If you have any leftover food, put it in the fridge or freezer within two hours in a covered container.
When food is kept at a low temperature, bacteria can’t grow. As soon as you remove it from that safe zone, you’re putting people at risk. You can learn all about safe temperatures in a food safety certificate.
Set your fridge at a temperature between two and five degrees. Cool hot food for at least half an hour before you pop it in the refrigerator, and don’t leave it out for more than two hours. If anything spills in your fridge, clean it up immediately.
The more that’s in your fridge, the higher the risk that something won’t be at a safe temperature. Don’t overcrowd your fridge. If you are removing anything for use outdoors, pack a chilly bin with ice packs to keep food cold.
What About High-Risk Food?
Aside from keeping an eye on product recalls, you should also be aware of high-risk food. Always follow the three Cs for all food preparation, but even more so for high-risk food groups. You would be amazed at what foods are considered high risk. They are food that doesn’t require any further cooking or ingredients that have the correct foundations for bacteria to thrive.
Meat, fish, shellfish, dairy products, and cooked rice are all under the high-risk category. You also have to be careful with gravy, some sauces and soups, and stock. Bacteria only need warmth, moisture, protein, time, and neutral pH conditions to become a risk.
Learning about the three Cs in cooking can be exceptionally helpful for those in the food preparation industry. However, that’s only the beginning. A food safety certificate or other food training course from an accredited training institute can arm you with the correct information and certifications to keep yourself and others safe around food.