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6 food safety tips for the Christmas/Summer period

December 18th , 2020 by

Christmas in Australia is a particularly risky time when it comes to food safety. Firstly, rates of food poisoning increase in the summer months because bacteria grow faster in warmer weather. Secondly, commercial kitchens tend to increase their food production significantly, putting a strain on refrigeration equipment and staff.

We’ve put together some Christmas/Summer food safety tips below to help you get through this busy time of year safely. It’s a good idea to share these tips with your food service/production staff too.

1. Don’t overload fridges and freezers

It can be tempting to overload your refrigeration equipment at this time of year. But it’s just not worth the risk. If cool air can’t get down and around your food, it will become unsafe to eat. Make sure that there is good air circulation around your food at all times.

We recommend someone checks your staff’s equipment loading practices during busy periods. If you have the task management module of our Monika digital food safety system, you can schedule these checks and assign them to key areas and staff to ensure they are done each day.

Overstocked freezers are a food safety risk

2. Be extra vigilant about food temperatures at goods inward

Temperature checks at goods inward should be a standard part of your food safety management plan, however at this time of year it pays to be extra vigilant.

Food that has been transported in hot weather is at greater risk of fluctuations in temperature. When it arrives at your premises, it must be probed at a safe temperature. Use reputable suppliers with excellent temperature management practices – this is probably not the time of year to be changing suppliers if you can help it.

3. Don’t crowd food preparation areas

Preparation of large amounts of food in limited kitchen space will increase the chance of cross-contamination. Plan your Christmas/Summer food production processes carefully to ensure that there is adequate space for staff to move around safely. This is also important to preventing the spread of illness including the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus.

Masked chefs prepare food in commercial kitchen

Chefs working safely during food preparation

4. Don’t leave food out for extended periods during food prep

As things heat up outside, so does the heat in the kitchen – in more ways than one! With more meals to prepare and more staff to prepare them, the risk of food reaching unsafe temperatures during prep is much higher.

Try to minimise the risk of food being left out for an extended time during busy periods. A well planned food production process, including appropriate staffing for relevant tasks and areas, will keep things moving quickly, your staff happy and your customers safe.

5. Follow a robust cook-chill process

With increased food production comes the risk of rushing to get food ready to meet demand. It is critical that hot foods are cooled and stored safely – without compromising the temperature of other chilled foods.

A digital food safety system like Monika can be fully customised to individual batch food production processes, with alerts and prompts to ensure food is chilled within a safe timeframe and stored at a safe temperature.

Chef probing food being chilled

Chef probing food to ensure it has chilled to a safe temperature within the required timeframe

6. Ensure fridges and freezers are in good working order

This almost goes without saying, but it’s critical that your fridges and freezers are running optimally over busy food production and service periods like Christmas.

The rise in external temperatures can have a significant impact on internal refrigeration performance, so be extra vigilant in ensuring your plant and equipment is serviced through preventative maintenance.

Live equipment monitoring can quickly highlight when refrigeration is struggling or temperatures are moving out of safe range. With real-time alerts, you can prioritise maintenance activities, avoid food waste and keep your customers safe in the lead up to Christmas.

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