As per the condition of license under Food Safety and Standards (Licensing & Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations 2011, every food business operator (FBO) applying for FSSAI license must have a documented FSMS plan and comply with Schedule 4 of this regulation. Besides the general requirements, according to this regulation Part V deals with the Specific Hygienic and Sanitary Practices to be followed by Food Business Operators engaged in catering / food service establishments. This includes premises where public is admitted for repose or for consumption of any food or drink or any place where cooked food is sold or prepared for sale like
(a) Eating Houses
(b) Restaurants & Hotels
(c) Snack Bars,
(d) Canteens (Schools, Colleges, Office, Institutions)
(e) Food Service at religious places
(f) Neighbourhood Tiffin Services / dabba walas
(g) Rail and airline catering
(h) Hospital catering
In these times of infectious diseases adhering to the laid down regulatory guidelines regarding hygiene and sanitation becomes crucial in maintaining food safety. There are numerous studies that point towards poor sanitation and food hygiene, including poor personal hygiene and contamination of equipment and/or environments being responsible for food contamination and food safety risk. Taking this into consideration it becomes imperative to undertake proper clean-up procedures in the kitchen and ensure good hygienic practices. This article will focus on how to help food handlers maintain hygiene and sanitation in the kitchens where food is handled, cooked and stored.
Educating food handlers
A clean and sanitised kitchen provides food safety but it is equally important to practice good hygiene practices. Here it becomes crucial to educate workers and food handlers about the hazards that can be present in the kitchen. While the food service industry employs trained workers, they equally employ young, unskilled and semi-literate personnel. These are the food handlers who should be made aware of the importance of food safety rules, personal hygiene and sanitation in the food preparation areas. One of the biggest risks is that pathogens can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops and also food both cooked and raw. Food safety, therefore comes from ensuing personal hygiene and over all sanitation to prevent any kind of food safety risk. Mishandling and disregard of hygienic practices by food handlers may cause contaminants to come into contact with food and in some cases survive and grow enough to cause foodborne illnesses. Awareness about all these aspects can prevent food handlers and workers from making mistakes that could endanger the health of the consumers and bring bad repute to a brand.
- Hang posters on the walls of the kitchen premises about the rules the staff should obey and the best hygiene practices.
- There is no doubt that hand washing is of utmost importance when handling and preparing foods. Therefore, the kitchen infrastructure must support this important function in order to minimise the risk of cross-contamination.
- Provide hand sinks in the kitchen, food preparation areas and restrooms. Sinks can also be installed near employee entrances so they can wash their hands before entering the kitchen.
- Place posters in restrooms to remind employees to wash their hands after use and before returning to work.
- Employees should also be trained to wash their hands before beginning any food preparation, after handling money, or touching any parts of their face or hair, after smoking.
- Minimize bare hand usage by providing, single-use gloves, tongs, especially when preparing/packaging ready-to-eat foods.
- In order to maintain food safety, it is also required that owners provide changing rooms where workers can remove their home clothing and street shoes and change into their clean work clothes and headgear before they come in contact with food.
According to the Part -I General Hygienic and Sanitary practices to be followed by Petty Food Business Operators applying for Registration under the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing & Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations 2011 it has been stated that Persons suffering from infectious diseases shall not be permitted to work. Any cuts or wounds shall remain covered at all time and the person should not be allowed to come in direct contact with food. Therefore, food service owners must ensure that they do not allow anyone, with a contagious illness to work in the food operations while ill. Any employee that is showing signs and symptoms of illness such as vomiting, diarrhoea, jaundice, sore throat with fever, or has an infected wound, should be sent home and not allowed to work in areas where they come in contact with food. Train the employees so they understand that such kinds illnesses need to be reported.
Clean kitchen, safe kitchen
Cleaning and disinfecting the kitchen areas can never be overlooked because it is the area where food operations actually take place. Inadequate supply of water both for cleaning foods and for cleaning equipment, lack of proper storage facilities, inadequate disposal of waste, create unhygienic and insanitary conditions. Good sanitary practices in handling and preparing food, food storage and adequate supply of potable water will ensure that there is no cross contamination and microorganisms will not be able to grow.
All food service establishments must have a properly designed food hygiene and sanitation programme and which is followed rigorously. Sanitation is not just a one-off practice but rather it is an ongoing programme that needs to be carried out as a matter of habit. The staff should be adequately trained on how to carry out a thorough kitchen sanitation and disinfection programme. Cleaning operations that are undertaken regularly to maintain sanitation will prevent food contamination and will reduce organisms that cause food spoilage. For this, the FBO must develop a systematic cleaning schedule with clear instructions. Food handlers should strictly follow the systematic cleaning schedule to make sure that surfaces and equipment are cleaned when they need to be. The schedule should include:
- what needs to be cleaned
- how often it needs to be cleaned
- how the cleaning should be done
Cleaning instructions should indicate:
- what cleaning products should be used
- how the products should be stored (away from raw, cooked, packed food) and used
- how much they should be used or diluted
- how long that should be left in contact with the surface (following the manufacturer’s instructions)
- The kitchen must be constructed as per the FSSAI regulations with materials that are non-toxic, durable and easy to clean.
- They must be designed to prevent accumulation of dirt, moulds and fungus.
- The kitchen should have adequate pest control measure to prevent the entry of rodents, cockroaches, flies and insects.
- The ventilation system must be able to eliminate smoke, odours and prevent dust, dirt from entering.
- Filters and other parts of the systems should be easily accessible for cleaning or changing.
The kitchen should have natural or artificial lights that are equal to the natural light of the day, and the intensity and colour of the lights should not impact the quality of the foods in
The regulations also state that
- Adequate number of wash-hand basins made of porcelain/stainless steel shall be provided along with soap to wash hands, with hot and cold running water, and materials for cleaning hands and drying them hygienically.
- Separate sinks must be provided, where necessary, for washing raw food and cleaning equipment.
- Sinks with a draining board, detergent and hot water shall be provided to ensure proper cleaning of utensils, crockery and cutlery there will be a separate place for washing pots and pans.
- The preparation, packaging and handling of food products should take place separately from kitchen
- It is important to wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before preparing the next food item.
- Rather than cloth towels, it is advisable to use paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces. In case towels are used they must be washed thoroughly in hot water and sundried before next use.
- Keep all kitchen equipment and utensils clean and in a good condition.
- Wash, rinse and sanitize all food contact surfaces, equipment and utensils before each use.
- Ensure water used during the preparation of food products meets potable drinking water standards.
- Protect food from dirt, vermin, unnecessary handling, droplet contamination, overhead leakage, or other environmental sources of contamination.
- Purchase certified equipment that can be cleaned easily and which do not have corners and seams where food can remain and which enables pathogen build-up. Each piece of equipment should come with the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to and how often to clean it.
- Equipment and machinery when employed shall be of such design which will permit easy cleaning. Arrangements for cleaning of containers, tables, working parts of machinery, etc. shall be provided.
- No vessel, container or other equipment, the use of which is likely to cause metallic contamination injurious to health shall be employed in the preparation, packing or storage of food. (Copper or brass vessels shall have proper lining). All equipment shall be kept clean, washed, dried and stacked at the close of business to ensure freedom from growth of mould/ fungi and infestation. All equipment shall be placed well away from the walls to allow proper inspection.
- There should be efficient drainage system and there shall be adequate provisions for disposal of refuse.
- Clean dishes, cookware, bakeware, utensils, and removable parts of equipment in hot water and sanitize if required.
- Create a cleaning schedule and record it
- Follow manufacturers’ directions for cleaning solutions. Employees should be trained to read all the directions on each cleaning and sanitizing product to ensure the solutions are being used correctly
- Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulation, 2011