How can Poor Food Hygiene Adversely Affect a Food Business

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Did you know, poor food hygiene may lead to serious health conditions like gastroenteritis, Hepatitis A and food poisoning? Alarming, right? 

Poor food hygiene, not only affects the health of consumers but also diminishes the reputation of a particular food establishment. Legal action might be taken as well against the food businesses responsible for conducting poor food hygiene practices.

The FSA investigates food businesses who practise poor food hygiene and prosecute them with the help of local authorities. Know in detail about the consequences, risk factors and steps to eliminate poor food hygiene from this blog.

What is Poor Food Hygiene?

While maintaining proper food hygiene is the practice of cooking and storing foods at the correct temperature to prevent illness or the spread of diseases, poor food hygiene resembles just the opposite. 

Poor food hygiene is when foods are not properly cooked, stored at the wrong temperature and get contaminated with bacteria. The practice of poor food hygiene can give rise to severe foodborne diseases that can adversely affect any food business.

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What are the Consequences of Poor Food Hygiene?

poor food hygiene may lead to

Poor food hygiene can be the reason for food poisoning and other foodborne diseases. There are a range of bacterium, viruses and germs which can multiply on foods, allowing foodborne diseases to grow. 

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease caused by the consumption of contaminated food. The person suffering from Hepatitis A usually recovers within a couple of months, however, it can be life threatening if it causes the liver to stop working.

Food Poisoning

Poor food hygiene may lead to food poisoning that involves unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea and high temperatures.

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Campylobacteriosis

Campylobacteriosis is caused by undercooked meats, cross-contamination, contaminated water, and raw milk. 

According to the Food Standards Agency, “There has been a notable increase in outbreaks of campylobacter in the UK in recent years. The reason for the increase is assumed to be related to the use of undercooked chicken livers in preparing pâté and parfait dishes. ” 

Campylobacter causes severe diarrhoea, stomach cramps and sometimes can lead to more serious complications.

Gastroenteritis

This is an infection which causes symptoms such as excessive vomiting and diarrhoea. It is caused by the norovirus or bacterial food poisoning, which is a result of poor food hygiene.

Staphylococcus Aureus

This infection is caused by the staphylococcal bacteria called “staphylococcus aureus.”

This bacterium causes vomiting and extreme stomach pains. It is usually found on the throat, skin, nose, and ears of humans and is transferred to food due to poor handling practices. 

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Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis is caused by Salmonella bacteria found in raw or undercooked eggs, undercooked poultry and meat, and untreated milk. Its symptoms are fever, diarrhoea, stomach pain, and vomiting.

E. Coli

  1. Coli bacteria, usually found in undercooked beef, unpasteurized milk, and contaminated meats, causes severe bloody diarrhoea and can also lead to serious kidney damage. 

Listeriosis

It is caused by listeria and can lead to miscarriage and meningitis in the new-born. This infection mostly affects vulnerable groups like pregnant women, immunodeficient people, and children.

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What are the Symptoms of Foodborne Diseases?

Some of the notable symptoms of foodborne diseases are-

What are the Risk Factors Associated with Foodborne Diseases?

poor food hygiene may lead to

Lack of proper knowledge regarding food hygiene may lead to unawareness about the risk factors associated with foodborne diseases. Have a look at the factors that might contribute to food contamination and diseases.

Improper storing temperatures

Foods need to be stored at appropriate temperatures to decrease the growth of any pathogenic bacteria present. Cold foods should be stored at  ≤41°F and hot foods at ≥135°F to avoid contamination.

The temperature range of 41°F-135°F is called the danger zone because in this range, pathogenic bacteria grow rapidly. So, staff should ensure that the food doesn’t remain in this range for too long.

Improper cooking temperatures

Raw meats naturally have pathogenic bacteria on them. It is important to cook all meat, poultry and seafood properly to kill bacteria that can cause food poisoning. The temperature of the food might be measured by an accurate probe thermometer.

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Contaminated equipment and utensils

The bacteria on contaminated equipment and utensils can transfer to food and cause foodborne illnesses. Also, the residual bacteria at room temperature can multiply rapidly. Therefore, it is recommended to wash and sanitise all the food equipment and utensils at least once every four hours.

Poor personal hygiene

If the food workers have poor self-hygiene, there is a possibility of the food being served to be exposed to harmful bacteria, leading to an instance of food poisoning. Additionally, if any worker is sick with vomiting or diarrhoea, they increase the risk of spreading disease when handling food.

Unsafe sources of food

All the foods received by the food business owners must be obtained from approved sources that comply with applicable laws and regulations. In addition, it is prudent of food business operators to see how vendors handle the food they are providing to ensure the process does not expose food to any harmful bacteria.

Who should take Food Hygiene Training?

Generally, food businesses are encouraged to at least have training equivalent to Level 2 for food hygiene. Whether you are preparing and distributing the food yourself or selling pre-prepared food, it’s still advised that you take Level 2 Food Hygiene training.

Additionally, supervisors must at least have Level 3 expertise in managing food hygiene and safety. You can have on-the-job training or you can avail the courses online.

Why is Food Hygiene Training so Important?

poor food hygiene may lead to

Proper knowledge of food hygiene is crucial to ensuring consumer safety and trust. Any negligence towards hygiene during food preparation, processing or production can put consumers’ health at risk. That is why it is vital for food handlers to have training on food hygiene. 

Reduces Wastage of Food

Lack of proper food hygiene practice, for example, storing food at inappropriate temperatures, in unsuitable containers, or without a proper rotation system, can make the food unsuitable for consumption.

Food hygiene training teaches people how to properly organise and store food in order to maintain the quality and minimise the wastage of food. This saves the business time and money along with ensuring the quality of food.

Prevents Cross-contamination

Bad food hygiene practice that could lead to cross-contamination, can be the reason for food poisoning and allergic reactions. It occurs when you handle food in a way that allows harmful bacteria or allergens to spread from one surface to another. For example, using the same chopping board to prepare meat and ready-to-eat vegetables might cause cross-contamination.

Food-poisoning bacteria, such as E.coli and salmonella, can also spread from food to utensils, and people’s hands and then to ready-to-eat food if you don’t have the knowledge of how to handle foods safely. Food hygiene training would introduce you to these. 

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Helps to Build a Positive Reputation

Any organisation would strive to build a positive reputation and establish credibility to its customers. It is no different for food establishments. 

When the food handlers are given appropriate hygiene training, it automatically reflects on the food establishment. This helps to create a good reputation and is considered as a  trusted food establishment by the customers. 

Improves Efficiency of Staffs

Lack of proper training is often the reason for poor efficiency in food businesses. When staff know about workplace hygiene and maintain storage methods, work activities will flow better. 

Creates Proper Working Conditions

Working conditions that are unhygienic can result in low morale among workers and demotivate them. That is why food businesses should practise in the workplace.

Cleanliness in the workspace can be maintained when all the staff have adequate knowledge of food hygiene and safety. This benefits the food establishments to prepare and serve hygienic foods.

Why is a Good Food Hygiene Rating Important?

The food hygiene rating ranges from 5 to 0. The higher the rating, the more safe the food served to eat. 

A good food hygiene rating can impact customer choice. Most consumers tend to check the food hygiene rating before visiting any restaurant. Customers are unlikely to visit a place with a low rating. A good food hygiene rating establishes that your food business  upholds food hygiene to the highest value.

What are the Steps to Eliminate Poor Food Hygiene?

Cook food thoroughly

Make sure to cook all meat, poultry and seafood at the proper temperature. It is possible to kill all traces of campylobacter by cooking chicken thoroughly. 

Use separate chopping boards

Use a separate chopping board and utensils for meat, vegetable, and dairy preparation. This is to avoid contaminating ready-to-eat foods with harmful bacteria that can be present in raw food before it has been cooked. 

Use proper food controls

Proper food storage and temperature control can prevent E. coli and salmonella from spreading. Raw foods should be separated from ready-to-eat food items and stored in a clean shelf in the refrigerator. All cooked meat, poultry, and eggs should be stored at 40°F or below.

Wash kitchen equipment regularly

Wash knives and utensils before and after preparing food, particularly after they have been touched by raw meat, eggs, fish and vegetables.

Enforce proper hygiene requirements

Employees should wear clean uniforms, keep their hair covered, and wash their hands often. Employees should be trained on food hygiene and hand-washing techniques.

Implement good housekeeping procedures

Cleanliness is essential for preventing foreign objects like hair and insects from contaminating food. Floors should be swept and mopped after each shift, garbage containers should be emptied frequently and sanitised, and kitchen counters and walls should be cleaned frequently.

Conclusion

Proper food hygiene practice can help you to get a good number of customers, on the other hand, you may lose your customers if your business practises poor food hygiene. 

By now, you’ve already known how poor food hygiene can affect your business. So, try maintaining food hygiene to gain the consumers’ trust and run your food business smoothly. 

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