Food safety: what it is and how to implement itBlog
In the professional kitchen sector, food safety is of fundamental importance. According to the Codex Alimentarius definition, food safety implies that food, when prepared and/or consumed according to its intended use, does not harm to health. This safety depends on the practices adopted by operators that work in this specific field. They are faced with a great responsibility: to ensure the safety and the hygiene of food that is prepared and served to customers. For this purpose, there are several precautions that can be taken.
To guarantee adequate food safety, it is essential to wash hands thoroughly before touching food to reduce the risk of transferring bacteria or other contaminants. Furthermore, it is important to regularly clean and disinfect all work surfaces, kitchen utensils and equipment used to prevent the proliferation of unwanted microorganisms.
Also of fundamental importance is the proper storage of food, both before and after its preparation. Food must be kept at safe temperatures to avoid the proliferation of bacteria, while cooked food must be properly refrigerated to preserve its freshness and quality.
Good culinary hygiene is also of great importance for the reputation and success of food and gastronomy establishments. Customers expect to be served safe and hygienically prepared food. Therefore, proper food safety is essential to ensure customer trust, compliance with health regulations and the maintenance of a good company reputation.
HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) standards are an essential tool for preventing contamination and ensuring food quality. Through careful analysis of potential risks and precise control of critical control points, HACCP standards allow potential food hazards to be identified and efficiently managed.
HACCP standards and prevention of food contamination
HACCP standards are designed to ensure food safety in environments where a large amount of food is handled and prepared. These standards follow several key guidelines to ensure food safety and prevent contamination. See below how they are applied.
Initially, a sector-specific hazard analysis is conducted, with specialized focus on possible microbiological, chemical, or physical food contamination.
Next, industry-specific Critical Control Points are identified as the hazards that can be controlled or eliminated.
Specific critical limits are then established for the identified CCPs. These limits define acceptable values for parameters such as cooking temperature, storage times, chemical concertation, or microbiological contamination levels. At this stage, it is important to carry out regular monitoring to ensure that the critical limits are respected. In case a deviation from the critical limits is detected during monitoring, immediate corrective actions are taken, accompanied by periodical audits to confirm the effectiveness of the implemented HACCP system.
It is important to remember that a proper HACCP standards implementation is based on a proper personnel training, accompanied by the continuous complete and accurate documentation of all processes and activities related to food safety, including control logs, standard operating procedures (SOP) and cleaning and sanitization plans.
Handling of food temperatures
As discussed, the proper handling of food temperatures is one of the fundamental practices to prevent the growth and the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria. Perishable food, such as meat, fish, dairy, and egg products, must be stored and cooked at controlled temperature to ensure food safety.
The danger zone, i.e., the temperature in which bacteria can multiply rapidly, lies between 5°C and 60°C. Therefore, when storing food, it is essential to keep it outside this temperature range to reduce the risk of contamination. To prevent the bacterial growth, food must be stored at refrigeration temperatures (below 5°C) and freezing temperatures (below 18°C). Furthermore, food must be blast chilled quickly. Hot food must be chilled quickly to a safe temperature (below 5°C) and stored in a refrigerator to avoid the risk of contamination.
At an industrial level, IRINOX units play a key role in the professional management of food temperatures, in line with the HACCP standards. IRINOX S.p.A. specializes in the production of blast chillers and holding cabinets designed to guarantee food safety in professional kitchen.
HACCP regulations require accurate control of food temperature to prevent bacteria proliferation and ensure food quality and safety. IRINOX units, such as the blast chiller MultiFresh® Next, are specifically designed to rapidly lower the temperature of food, minimizing the time it is in the “danger zone”, where bacteria con rapidly multiply.
Furthermore, IRINOX offers the possibility to quickly download HACCP reports directly from its units, allowing professional kitchens to have up-to-date and accurate documentation of food safety activities. This facilitates the monitoring and traceability of operations performed, helping to ensure compliance with HACCP standards.
Fast blast chilling and shock freezing offer several benefits in terms of food safety. By enabling safe refrigeration temperatures to be reached quickly, IRINOX units help to preserve the freshness, texture, and flavor of food, while ensuring customer safety.
In this sense, the decision to use IRINOX units to control food temperatures aligns perfectly with HACCP regulations, while offering a high-quality guarantee. These units are specially designed and subject to rigorous testing to ensure that food temperatures fall rapidly and comply with the critical limits established to guarantee food safety.
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