Handling any food must be done with care, attention, and with the current hygiene guidelines in mind. These are designed to prevent the spread of bacteria and reduce the risk of food poisoning.
When talking about seafood it is particularly important as this food range includes shellfish and approximately one in every hundred adults have a seafood allergy. This increases the risk factor and makes it even more important that the proper procedures and precautions are followed.
Seafood generally needs to be stored at cold temperatures. This prevents bacteria from forming and helps to keep the products fresh. That means you need a good refrigerated food system with temperature monitoring.
This will ensure your refrigerator keeps the seafood at the right temperature.
But, you also need to consider how your food gets to you. It’s important to ensure the supplier uses reputable refrigerated couriers, this will give you peace of mind.
The rules that apply to all food preparation also apply to handling seafood. In effect, this means washing your hands before you touch any food and never wipe your hands on clothing or any other textiles. This simply gives the germs a place to sit and then transfer to other items.
If you need to clean down a work area the best idea is to use paper towels as these can be easily binned. Of course, you should also avoid running in food preparation areas, that’s just an accident waiting to happen.
Seafood must always be prepared in a separate place from other raw foods and especially well away from cooked foods. It’s best to have a designated seafood counter in your kitchen and use it exclusively for fish.
The area should have all its own utensils handy, allowing anyone to get the seafood prepared without any risk of contamination.
As soon as you have finished preparing the seafood it is important to clear the area and wipe everything down. That means washing all the utensils, wiping down the side, and then disinfecting. There is no better way of eliminating the germs.
Of course, if you are wearing gloves these will need to be discarded and a new pair used when you’re ready to prepare more seafood.
Chefs should already be trained in food prep. However, if you have recently taken on a new member of staff it is important to make sure they understand your procedures. It is likely that they will be different from other establishments. You can’t expect a food preparation assistant to know how you operate unless you tell them. Training must be obligatory and your employee should sign to say they have received it.
Don’t forget, being the place that made customers ill or started a food poisoning issue means you will almost certainly be checked by the food standards agency. They have the power to close you down and their investigation alone can seriously damage your reputation.
It’s easier to stick to the right precautions than deal with that!