As a food hygiene expert working undercover for ITV and Channel 4 for several years I probably would not eat in half the places I have visited due to poor working practices which is a shame as food safety and hygiene in my opinion is common sense. Most food business operators think it is very easy to open up a food related business but often they really don’t consider the importance of a food safety management system (HACCP). The initial outlay to set up such a system and train their staff seems an unnecessary expense to a new business especially when they see the priority being marketing their new business and generating turnover. Unfortunately, businesses like these think they know it all, it won’t happen to them….but how wrong they are!
Did you know, for example, that getting Food Safety and Health & Safety wrong can lead to £20K or unlimited fines or, in the most extreme cases, a 2 year jail sentence – and obviously, the end of their business. It just takes one case of food poisoning to shut your business down, you just have to read the press to hear about the latest cases. My last blog was on ‘What is Norovirus’ http://afoodh.wpengine.com/what-is-norovirus/
Here at Anderson Food Hygiene we have had to adapt our accredited tailored training programmes to meet the needs of this ever-changing environment and we work very closely with The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health as one of their top premium training centres to promote good practice both food safety and health & safety.
One of our key objectives on a daily basis is to pass on the pitfalls of ‘getting food safety’ wrong and I work tirelessly to protect our client’s reputation ensuring the safety and well-being of their customers as well as themselves. I am their safety net, my job at the end of the day is to protect them.
Am I an expert, well yes I think I am. One of my most notable ‘expert’ roles was working with ITV as their Food Hygiene Expert on a television series called ‘Dishing the Dirt’ which looked at the 70 Billon Pound food industry and what goes on behind the closed doors of restaurants. I went with the ITV Film Crew to the Dominican Republic undercover with a hidden camera and microphone investigating one of the worst cases of food poisoning in recent times involving a thousand affected hotel guests suffering from salmonella, e-coli, campylobacter and shigella. The tour operators First Choice and Thomson Cook had to pay out £5.5m compensation to 1,000 British tourists who suffered food poisoning whilst on holiday. More recently I was guest speaker for the Guardian Newspaper Masterclasses as their food hygiene expert for the public.
My purpose and challenge is to keep up to date with how the industry is changing. Consumers are informed about the safety, quality and nutritional value of the food they are eating through the whole spectrum of media – we are seeing an explosion of television and radio programmes focusing on food hygiene regulations, the production, transportation, storage and preparation and sale of food. Social media (Facebook; Twitter; Linkedin; Blogging) is being used to inform and educate plus we are seeing the increase of websites like Top Table and Trip Adviser using rating schemes to provide customers with informed choices of where to eat; stay and be social not only based on menu but service and food hygiene ratings too.
FOOD SAFETY is something you have to take seriously. YOU are responsible for complying with all Food Safety regulations affecting YOUR BUSINESS and if you get it wrong it can literally be fatal, damaging your reputation, leading to serious costly repercussions. Improving the ‘Food Safety Culture’ within your business is not just about obeying the law and being socially responsible, it also makes good business sense.