Food safety tips for pubs

As far as culinary errors go, poor food hygiene in a pub that serves food is surely one of the worst. Whether you are serving traditional pub grub or offering customers more of a gastropub experience, the kitchen is at the heart of your business so it needs to operate efficiently and profitably.

When you are running a business that serves food, you need to have ways of working that ensure food hygiene is high. To do that, it all comes down to the four Cs of food hygiene: cleaning, cooking, chilling, and cross-contamination. Get these right and you’ll have nothing to worry about. But if you let one slip, you may find you’re in trouble with your local environmental health officer…

What is the food hygiene rating scheme?

The level of hygiene in a pub kitchen is summed up on a six-level scale: the food hygiene rating. These ratings are issued by the Food Standards Agency and help customers make more informed decisions about eating in pubs. Designated officers visit all hospitality businesses to check on food safety compliance and will award a business a rating.

The scale is as follows:

5 – Hygiene standards are very good
4 – Hygiene standards are good
3 – Hygiene standards are generally satisfactory
2 – Some improvement is necessary
1 – Major improvement is necessary
0 – Urgent improvement is required

Obviously, the higher up the scale you are, the better for your business and the more likely you are to attract customers.
A bar in an English pub with various beers on tap

How to improve food safety in your pub

Getting a poor food hygiene rating is not good for any business. If you are struggling with food hygiene in your pub or are thinking of adding food to your pub’s offering, all is not lost.

Here are some tips on how you can make sure you maintain high standards of food safety and are ready whenever the inspectors decide to come knocking.

1 Storing food safely

Food in your pub kitchen will be stored in different places: shelves, cupboards, fridges and freezers. Dried food such as flour and pasta needs to be kept in containers on shelves, while anything with a use-by date will need to be stored in a fridge. Chilling food properly helps stop harmful bacteria from growing, and fridges need to be kept at 1°C-5°C.

If you need to freeze food, there are a few basic rules to follow. Don’t put food into the freezer when it’s still hot, keep the freezer door properly closed, and food past its use-by date should not be frozen. Your freezer should be kept at -18°C and temperatures of fridges and freezers should be checked daily.

2 Transporting food safely

It is important to make sure food doesn’t not get contaminated when you move it from A to B (i.e. from the cash and carry to your pub kitchen). You can do this by ensuring food is always transported in packages or containers that protect it from exposure to germs and bacteria.

You also need to make sure that chilled and frozen foods are kept at the right temperature (for example inside a cool box or in the back of a refrigerated van). Finally, it is crucial that you keep raw and ready-to-eat foods apart from one another at all times.

3 Keeping the kitchen clean

It is important to maintain a ‘clean as you go’ policy in your pub’s kitchen. This will mean you get rid of harmful bacteria and prevent it spreading onto the food you are storing, cooking and serving.

Regular cleaning throughout the kitchen is a must, and you can start by making a comprehensive list of everything that needs to be cleaned (e.g. surfaces, fridges, sins, bins, light switches and equipment), the frequency at which items should be cleaned, and the type of cleaning required (e.g. disinfecting or deep cleaning). Work surfaces should be cleaned following a six-step process: pre-clean, wash, rinse, disinfect, rinse and dry.
A busy kitchen during service

4 Personal hygiene

You can keep your kitchen clean and hygienic, but unless the people working in the kitchen have the same level of hygiene, food safety is going to be an issue.
Personal hygiene includes washing hands which should be done following medical handwashing techniques. This means washing your hands:

·        Before starting work
·        Before handling food
·        After using the toilet
·        After handling raw food and raw food packaging
·        After touching bins or handling waste
·        After every break
·        After eating and drinking
·        After cleaning
·        After handling cash
·        After blowing your nose

It also means drying your hands after washing them, minimising contact with raw food, showering regularly (although not necessarily mid shift!), changing into clean clothes before starting work, keeping fingernails short, keeping hair tied back, and not wearing any jewellery.

Anyone working in your pub kitchen should also be given 48 hours off work if they have an illness of any kind (vomiting, fever, dizziness etc). They need to cover any cuts or other skin conditions so they do not come into contact with food. And they should always cough and sneeze into a tissue, binning the tissue immediately and washing their hands straight away.

5 Staff training

To meet food safety standards, staff training is essential. Staff need to be made aware of all elements of food hygiene (including everything detailed above) and be given on-the-job training in how to handle food in the safest way. There are also a number of formal training courses that help staff understand the basic principles of food hygiene, for example, the Foundation Certificate in Food Hygiene.
Pub chefs plating up food

6 Food safety inspections

If you run a pub that serves food, you can expect officers from your local council to make an inspection. They want to see your business is complying with food law and producing food that is safe to eat. Your food hygiene rating will be based on what the inspectors see on the day of inspection, so keeping food safety standards at all times is a must.

If you run a pub, there are lots of ways to make it a success. At Insurance Choice, we can tailor commercial insurance to suit the specific requirements of your pub. Cover can include content and stock (including frozen food), food poisoning cover, and cover for loss of profits due to business interruption.

To find out more about commercial insurance and to get a quote, contact the Insurance Choice team today.