In any kitchen environment, there are potential hazards which can have an adverse effect on food hygiene. It's important to minimise the chance of these hazards occurring, in a residential kitchen or a commercial kitchen. It can be tempting to cut corners in a busy kitchen, but it's really not worth the risk.

There is no one single way in which food hygiene can be optimised. A variety of different actions come together, to make sure that hygiene is maintained. Vacuum packing can be one of these actions, and can be used in a kitchen at home, in a restaurant or in a busy commercial premises. Let's start by looking at why food hygiene is so important, then examine how vacuum packing can help.

Why taking care of food hygiene is so important

In any kitchen it's important to take care of food hygiene in order to protect the health of people who eat food that is prepared in the kitchen. Anyone who eats food that is contaminated with bacteria such as staphylococcus or E. coli can become ill. Harmful bacteria are common in kitchens where good food hygiene standards are not adhered to.

Aside from the health aspect of food hygiene, operating a kitchen that does not have good food hygiene standards in place can be costly for any business. For instance, any business can be inspected by the local council. In serious cases of poor food hygiene a business can be forced to close until the problem is resolved. This results in lost revenue. It can also result in the loss of a good reputation. It can be difficult for a business such as restaurant to continue to attract custom once customers are aware of poor food hygiene standards; even after the standards have improved.

How vacuum packing helps

Vacuum packing does not lead to good food hygiene standards overall, but it can be of help. The vacuum packing process involves sealing food in an air-tight pouch. Doing so helps to prevent the growth of potentially harmful organisms. From a food hygiene point of view it makes sense to vacuum pack, and safely store, food items rather than leave them open to the environment. The process also means that food can be stored for longer periods without being dangerous to health and being a hygiene risk.

Preventing Clostridium Botulinum when you vacuum pack

Although many harmful organisms are prevented as a result of vacuum packing food, there is a chance that  clostridium botulinum will grow. This bacteria can potentially cause serious food poisoning, so it's important that you pay attention to detail. If vacuum packed food is stored at a temperature below 3 degrees Celsius the bacteria does not grow. If food is stored at a higher temperature of between three and eight degrees Celsius, it should be stored for a maximum of ten days, unless other controls are put in place.

Other useful food hygiene tips

Vacuum packing can provide an advantage, when addressing food hygiene in a kitchen. But, it does not make a kitchen hygienic by itself. Here are some other tips for maintaining a good standard of food hygiene in a kitchen.

·      Hands should be washed thoroughly before handling food and after handling raw food. Use soap and warm water.

·      The same surface should never be used for the preparation of raw and cooked food, unless it is thoroughly washed with warm soapy water between preparations.

·      The temperature in fridges should be set to below five degrees Celsius.

·      Raw meat should be covered when stored in order to prevent cross contamination.

·      Food should be cooked thoroughly, until it's piping hot in the middle.

·      Use by dates should always be adhered to as it could be dangerous to eat the food concerned after that date. Best before dates simply relate to the fact that the food is at its best until that date.

Using all of these tips should help to preserve a good standard of food hygiene in a kitchen.

No matter what type of kitchen is involved, whether it's in a private home, a hotel or a restaurant, food hygiene is important. Poor standards of food hygiene can cause people to fall ill. They can also lead to a business premises being closed and losing custom. Vacuum packing can be used as part of an effective food hygiene plan, but all other aspects of good food hygiene also need to be adhered to.