Food safety should be at the core of every good foodservice business whether with regards to hygiene in all forms, allergen information, prevention of cross contamination or appropriate cooking, cooling, thawing or reheating. Showing responsibility towards customers, putting strict procedures in place and importantly adhering to these procedures, not only ensures happy diners but also a healthy business in terms of profit and reputation.
No one wants to fall foul of a food poisoning scare and so paying attention to the basics is vital. Foods contain pathogens, raw and pre-cooked foods being the worse culprits. These hidden pathogens can't be seen, smelt or tasted making them even more dangerous, the symptoms and consequences varying in severity from sickness to death in some cases. By employing strict food safety measures throughout the whole cooking process and following, the potential presence of pathogens can be minimised.
Food Standards Agency Guidelines
Guidelines set out by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) stipulate that all pre-cooked foods must be chilled quickly and effectively down to specified temperatures. One of the best ways to reduce the risk of pathogens and to adhere to advice is to invest in a blast chiller and/or freezer. These unassuming pieces of kit should be an essential additional to any kitchen that prepares food for public consumption. Their primary focus is preventing the build-up of harmful bacteria in food once it has been cooked and prior to storage in commercial refrigeration units. While not required by law they are strongly advised not only for customer safety and protection but also to limit any potential repercussions for your business should any case of food poisoning be recorded.
The Food Danger Zone
Blast chilling refers not only to the equipment used but also the method of bringing the core temperatures of food down rapidly in order to limit the growth of bacteria. The temperature range in which bacteria grows quickest is 8°C to 68°C. These machines will bring temperatures down from 70°C to 3°C in approximately 90 minutes for chillers and 70°C to -18°C in approximately 240 minutes for freezers. By observing these guidelines, food is rendered safe for storage. Blast chilling and freezing is a commonly used method for hygiene and food safety purposes.
Read more about the food danger zone and correct thawing, cooking, reheating and chilling procedures.
Evidence in the Media
Evidence of the benefits and importance of blast chilling, not only with regards to the public but also for the businesses involved is evident in historic media stories. In 2012 a well-known pub chain welcomed guests for Christmas dinner, however after failing to chill foods (in particular turkey) correctly and inadequately reheat dishes before serving, a number of food poisoning cases erupted leaving many ill and even a single fatality. Not only were proper measures neglected but the manager and the chef were found to have falsified food safety records with the intention of covering up the major error. These actions resulted in a £1.5 million fine for the pub chain with both the manager and chef being awarded a jail sentence.
In 2015 a norovirus breakout left nearly 300 diners sick, diners that included OAPS, children and a pregnant woman. It was estimated that the business would have to pay out a hefty £500k in compensation. Rather than shut the restaurant down until food safety issues were rectified, staff spent the night giving the kitchen a deep clean before reopening again the following morning and greeting guests. These guests also got ill. This pub has since closed its doors to the public.
The Consequences of Ignoring Blast Chilling
If food poisoning cases occur in a restaurant that is not equipped with a blast chiller, an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will investigate safety procedures and practises within the business. They will also check food safety records and any documentation. If found to not be operating in accordance with guidelines, the penalties could include large fines, closure of the business and in some cases imprisonment. For the sake of installing a simple, easy to use blast chiller and freezer, these disastrous consequences, both for customers and the business could be avoided.
Should food poisoning be reported in a restaurant that uses appropriate blast chilling techniques, an EHO will again investigate. If equipment is being used properly, all guidelines have been met and complete records are maintained and ready for inspection, any consequences will generally be minimal due to strict protocols being followed and good levels of food safety observed.
Choose your Blast Chiller
There are many models of blast chiller and freezer available on the market; meaning that making your choice will require some consideration and forethought. With varying dimensions, capacities, intended placement and even with optional additional functions there's plenty to choose from. If you're looking for something with added versatility, take a look at the Adande refrigerated/freezer drawers. These storage drawers not only perform at fridge or freezer temperatures at the simple flick of a switch but are also available with a blast chilling function. Proving increasingly popular, refrigerated drawers have become a key feature in many professional kitchens and with the addition of blast chilling options are proving a versatile, multi-functional base to any commercial catering operation.
Make the right choice for food safety and halt bacteria in your kitchen with a blast chiller and freezer today. To read everything you need to know about buying a blast chiller take a look at our In-Depth Blast Chiller and Freezer Buying Guide.