We’ve always been told to avoid outside food during the monsoons. Since we were kids, we’ve been warned of the illnesses we can get by eating out during rains. Well, this is because foodborne diseases are most common during this time of the year. But if a few health and hygiene guidelines are followed in the kitchen while preparing the food, then these foodborne diseases can be prevented easily, and eating outside in the rains can become a harmless and safe affair!
Hygiene in the kitchen is one of the most important things. Right from when a chef enters the kitchen, he should be careful, especially during the rains, and take the following precautions during the monsoon season.
Here are some simple hygiene tips for you;
- A Clean Uniform
The uniform should be clean from head to toe, which includes the apron, shoes, and headgear. You never know what kind of bacteria can be on your clothing, especially during the monsoon. A fresh pair for each day is preferable. This is the first step towards food safety in the hospitality industry. Reusing a uniform without washing can cause bacteria to spread. Any form of jewelry shouldn’t be worn while preparing food. The jewelry can carry any sort of germs and bacteria without anyone’s knowledge, thus it is best kept somewhere away from the food being prepared.
- Sanitizing your Hands
Clean hands are the most essential, they do all the working and make the perfect and tastiest dishes. A good soap wash to get rid of the germs is a good hygiene practice. A fresh pair of gloves is a must. Direct contact with the food must be avoided. The rains bring many germs with them, an antiseptic hand wash can help get rid of most of these germs.
- Clean Tools and Equipment
All the items used in the kitchen must be sanitized before being used. Using hot water and soap is strongly recommended. The counters on which the food is being prepared should be sanitized every day. Different sets of equipment for veg and non-veg food is an unsaid mandate. Cleaning knives and other such equipment are also recommended. This is very important for food safety and hygiene. While storing any equipment after washing it, always ensure that it is dry because moisture attracts insects and bacteria.
- Safe Storage
All raw materials that are going to be used to prepare the food should be stored in a clean and hygienic place. Items that should be kept in a dry place should be kept separately from those that need to be frozen. During the monsoon, one should ensure that the place where items that are supposed to be stored should remain dry at all times. The cold storage should also be cleaned regularly as raw meats tend to attract a higher number of bacteria.
- Pest Control
The last thing that any kitchen needs are a pest infestation. Regular checks and pest control can help prevent any sort of infestation. The monsoon tends to drive many types of pests to seek shelter indoors. They can be carriers of dangerous foodborne diseases. This can be avoided by performing routine checks and ensuring that all exits and entry points are sealed properly when the kitchen isn’t functional.
The monsoon season shouldn’t be any excuse for anyone to not enjoy tasty food. Hygiene and sanitation are very important throughout the year in the food industry as no one would like to get sick after eating a meal outside. Any restaurant can ensure their customers’ safety by following the simple steps that are mentioned above.
Highlights on a few Food Safety and Standards Authority of India Compliances
- 7.1 Food handlers and employees of the establishment shall undergo a medical examination by a registered medical practitioner annually to ensure that they are free from any infectious and other communicable diseases. A record of these examinations shall be maintained.
- 7.2 The employees in the food premises shall be inoculated against the enteric group of diseases as per the recommended schedule of the vaccine and a record shall be maintained
- 7.3 The FBO shall conduct a self-evaluation of the process to verify the effectiveness of the implemented food safety system at periodic intervals through internal/external audits or other mechanisms, at least once a year. Necessary corrective actions based on self-evaluation results shall be taken.
- 7.4 The important records that shall be maintained and kept for an appropriate time include incoming material checks, inspection, and testing, cleaning and sanitation as appropriate, calibration, water testing, operational controls (such as temperature, pressure, time, etc.) storage. cleaning and sanitation, pest control, medical examination and health status of food handlers, training, etc.
Source: FSSAI Licencing Registration 2018