More often than not, food safety only becomes an issue for food operators after an unwanted incident. Learn how to avoid these situations by taking the initiative and educating yourself on the basics of food handling and hygiene.
1. Precautionary measures
Insufficient knowledge in food handling pose a real threat when it comes to food safety, so always ensure your staff is well-equipped with essential information by signing them up for training courses. It is also compulsory for your staff to go through health and safety checks like obtaining an anti-typhoid injection before they can work in any food service establishment.
2. Personal hygiene
Food handlers are often not aware that they themselves may be a source of contamination in the kitchen. Bacteria from outside the kitchen, transferred through their hair or clothing, can bring in unwanted pathogens. Implementing a strict practice of donning a uniform when in the kitchen is highly recommended to avoid any sort of possible bacterial transmission during the process of preparing food.
For starters, basic protection such as gloves, hairnets and face masks are proven methods to decrease the chances of external contamination. Setting up a portable washing station at your stall and teaching your staff proper hand washing techniques is also an excellent habit to incorporate into food handling practices.
3. Storage Aspect
As a rule of thumb, never store cooked food for more than four hours at room temperature. If possible, display your sellable goods under the protection of plastic wraps and containers, never under direct contact with the external environment. Airborne contaminations are a constant risk, especially under Malaysia's humid surroundings.
Frozen raw ingredients (meat, vegetables, dairy products) and dry ingredients (sugar, spices, oil) are to be separated and stored accordingly with a clear display of their date of purchase and expiration for easy reference.
4. Environmental factors
Given the usual logistics of the Ramadhan bazaar, it is unfortunately a common sight for heaps of litter and rubbish to be lying about after closing hours. This provides a breeding ground for pests. Be sure to take up the responsibility of disposing waste according to proper measures – even if that means putting in the extra effort to bring the waste back and discarding it at home.
Be mindful to apply the habit to 'clean as you go', which will result in a smaller amount of mess and eventually, an overall hygienic workspace.