The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has again updated its Q&A document related to the February 2011 guidance document on the control of cross contamination from E.coli 0157.
The Q&A document has been updated for the third time to reflect some of the additional comments and questions received.
The Q&A document contains a variety of new questions and answers which include:
Use of sinks for washing raw food and rinsing ready to eat food
The FSA confirm that you can use the same sink to wash dirty vegetables then rinse ready to eat foods such as cooked rice, but that through cleaning and disinfection is required of the sink after raw use. Also the foods should be washed in a way to avoid contact with sink e.g. place in a colander.
Can complex equipment previously used for raw food be use for ready to eat foods?
The FSA have commissioned some research, however until the results are received FSA advise it is not safe for a piece of equipment that is not known for certain has not been used for raw foods, to be subsequently be used for ready to eat foods (e.g. if you are buying kit second hand and are unsure of its history of use).
How do I ensure the handle of a fridge, used for raw and ready to eat foods, does not become a vehicle for cross contamination?
The FSA advise controls must be in place, for example if staff handling raw foods wash hands before touching the door handle, this will ensure it is clean.
Use of probes for raw and ready to eat
The FSA advise in essence is that probe thermometers should not be dual use i.e. for raw foods and ready to eat foods. STS would therefore advise on separate probes for example for checking temperature of raw food deliveries (or use an infrared thermometer).
The FSA advise separate cloths in raw and ready to eat areas. If cloths are to be reused in clean areas, the FSA do not consider steeping in bleach or sanitiser sufficient – they need to be boil washed (90°C or above).
The Q&A document also contains a variety of amendments to questions and answers which include:
Cash registers, chip and pin machines etc
The guidance encourages separate kit, however accepts that single kit may be used where appropriate controls are in place to avoid cross contamination e.g. hand washing before using cash register.
Use of probes for monitoring temperatures
The FSA consider probes safe for most foods to check temperature of partially then fully cooked food, as any surface contamination will be destroyed by temperature. However, when the probe is used to monitor the temperature of partially cooked food made from minced or ground meat, the bacteria would not be limited to the surface and therefore the probe tip could become contaminated. Therefore the FSA advise that the tip of a probe inserted into partly cooked ground meat product must be appropriately heat disinfected (e.g. using boiling water) before it can be used again to check the food has reached a safe temperature. STS question how practical this would be in a busy kitchen, and that probe wipes are much more likely to be used!
Is there a list of which cleaning products conform with the BS EN standards?
Basically it is up to the food business to make sure their chemicals such as sanitisers and hand soaps meet the BS EN standards specified in the guidance. Contact your chemical supplier if unsure, and ask for written confirmation.
What if you do not have non hand operable taps
To avoid taps acting as vehicles for cross contamination, the FSA advise that taps should be turned off after hand washing after handling raw food using a paper towel.