There’s no doubt that maintaining excellent food hygiene standards is paramount to the continuing success of any mobile catering company.
These days, news of a food company’s poor hygiene standards can spread like wildfire, especially on social media. A low hygiene rating or bad customer review can negatively affect custom and cause any catering business to struggle.
Maintaining a high level of food hygiene is crucial for the safety of your customers and to an extent, your staff. With complacency comes the risk of preparing or serving food that doesn’t meet the required standards. In the worst-case scenario, cross-contamination could result in a customer eating an ingredient they’re allergic to, which could have serious repercussions.
As the owner of a mobile catering business, you appreciate how crucial it is to abide by food safety regulations. But how about your staff – are they aware of the risks? Do they follow all the necessary measures and precautions you’ve put in place, even when you’re not there to oversee them?
Training your kitchen team on food safety and constantly reiterating its importance will help them to keep hygiene front of mind when they’re preparing and serving food to your customers. Take a look at some of the professional training courses offered by the NCASS (Nationwide Caterers Association) to see which ones might be suitable for your business.
First things first, though: you need to make sure you, your staff, your business and all assets are protected by taking out catering insurance.
Here at Mobilers, we specialise in liability insurance and cover for catering and non-catering vehicles and static units. Our cover can protect against a whole range of risks, depending on your circumstances and the unique nature of your catering business.
The four ‘Cs’ of food hygiene
As mentioned, providing training to your staff is essential in maintaining great food hygiene standards. A good place to start is by focusing on the four Cs – let’s take a look at what they are, as outlined in a Nisbets blog.
Cross-contamination is one of the key causes of food poisoning and occurs most often when raw food comes into contact with surfaces, equipment or other cooked food. Here’s how you and your staff can prevent it from happening:
- Ensure you all thoroughly clean and disinfect all equipment, tools and work surfaces
- Separate raw and cooked food, as well as the equipment and utensils used with them, and keep them separate at all times
- Be extra vigilant when preparing or handling uncooked food
- Split cleaning equipment for use with raw and cooked food, ensuring they stay separate all the time
- Use clear signage in food preparation and handling areas to ensure staff are aware of the risks of cross-contamination
Practising excellent hygiene is the best way to prevent harmful bacteria from spreading. Here are some top tips to share with your staff:
- Hands should be washed each time before preparing or handling food
- Hand sanitisers can be used in areas where the sink is continually used during busy periods but it should never replace proper soap and hand washing methods
- Use cleaner/disinfectant on surfaces but check they’re suitable for the task at hand first (i.e. make sure the products are suitable for use on food preparation areas)
- Encourage staff to clean surfaces, equipment and machines after each use, particularly when they are used to handle raw food
Chilling food prevents the growth of nasty bacteria. The majority of ready-to-eat foods need to be refrigerated or else they will spoil quickly at room temperature, increasing risk. Make sure you and your staff:
- Check the temperature of food as soon as it’s delivered to make sure best before dates can be kept
- Only remove chilled foods when they are required – this will stop the build up of bacteria prior to preparation
- Regularly monitor the performance of fridge and freezer units to make sure they are at the right temperature
- Rotate food stock, applying FIFO principles – first in, first out
Whether your staff are cooking or reheating food before serving it, it’s crucial that the food is piping hot when it leaves the kitchen or mobile catering van. This is particularly important if the dishes include ingredients such as pork, poultry, rolled joints and minced meat. If these foods aren’t adequately heated in the middle then it creates a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
Whole beef or lamb cuts can be served pink however, provided they are fully seared on the outside.
Quick-fire hygiene tips
- Follow the two-step cleaning process – first clean away traces of food debris, then use the second clean to thoroughly sanitise the area
- Schedule in regular deep cleans of your catering van, trailers or other catering premises, especially when the vehicle or space is used intensely (e.g. after any festivals)
- Make sure you and your staff wear the correct workwear. Disposable gloves, aprons and footwear are key in food preparation as they can help to prevent the spread of bad bacteria.
- Choosing protective clothing that’s white can help to highlight any stains
- Keep clean clothing spares in case an incident requires your staff to change out of their clothing
- Ask staff to make sure they arrive for shifts in clean workwear
Catering insurance from Mobilers
Maintaining high food hygiene standards across your catering business isn’t a one-person job. It’s the responsibility of all of your staff – but it’s your duty to provide the necessary training, resources and equipment to ensure they can uphold excellent hygiene standards.
Making sure every new member of staff is aware of your standards and expectations is important. But so too is regularly revisiting hygiene standards and training with current staff, ensuring you update them on any changes to your processes or general regulations.
But remember, before you can start serving delicious food from your spotlessly clean catering facility, you need cover.
Catering insurance from Mobilers can cover facilities including catering vans, trailers, market stalls, ice cream vans, burger vans and much more. It’s our role to understand the unique traits of your mobile catering business before finding the right policy for the right price.
Get a free, no-obligation quote today.