The CSC guide to a joyous (and safe) festive season

Published: 18 Nov 2016

The countdown to Christmas has begun! Already we are starting to see decorations going up, shops have dusted off the Christmas playlist and food outlets everywhere are bombarding us with Christmas meal offers. It is time therefore for a reminder on how you can keep your business safe, whilst still ensuring your customers and staff enjoy all the season has to offer.

By following a few basic rules, many potential problems can be avoided which will help you run your business smoothly.

General food safety tips:

With food poisoning allegations generally on the increase during the Christmas period, planning ahead is essential. Bearing in mind that storage space is usually at a premium during this period, ensure that all raw and cooked/ready to eat food items are properly segregated, covered and stock rotated. Prevention of cross contamination must be a priority. Remember, E.coli, Campylobacter, Norovirus!

The importance of personal hygiene cannot be understated. Ensure that your kitchen team and food handling staff have a thorough understanding of the importance of hand washing and sanitising of all hand contact surfaces.

The company food management system must be reinforced with temperature checks to be conducted and documented in the required time scales.

Allergen awareness must be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Ensure that all food items served are assessed for their allergen content and the information should be readily available if required. Notifications must be available to inform guests of how to obtain allergen information, this could be via a display board or within the menu itself.

How safe is your turkey:

It is not too unusual for Turkey to be implicated in food poisoning allegations over the festive period. Follow these steps to ensure your turkey is safe:

  • Ensure that your turkeys come from reputable suppliers. All frozen poultry must be thoroughly thawed under refrigeration to stop any bacterial growth, it should then be thoroughly checked and thawing temperatures recorded and monitored. Never refreeze your turkey after it has been defrosted.
  • Don’t forget to wash your hands often. Ensure that your wash hand basins are stocked with anti bacterial hand soap, paper towel, hot and cold running water. Remember that cross contamination can occur when turkeys are prepared. Ensure that equipment for handling of food are used correctly i.e. yellow for cooked and red for raw.
  • Ensure the Turkey is cooked through (the juices should be clear i.e. no traces of blood). This should also be tested with a calibrated probe to ensure the meat has reached the required temperature of 75°C (82°C  in Scotland). Always calculate the time needed – never estimate.
  • Do not stuff the turkey cavity with stuffing, this will make it harder to reach a satisfactory temperature inside.

Health and Safety considerations this Christmas:

Christmas decorations, tinsel, decorated trees - all part of the Christmas tradition, but things can and often do go wrong! The following practices can help ensure you keep everyone safe:

Fire safety is the main hazard associated with decoration and the display of a Christmas tree in your premises. Ensure that your fire risk assessment is updated to include your Christmas plans.

The tree needs to be placed in a secure place and must not cause an obstruction to guests and especially to fire exit routes. It should be placed away from sources of heat.

Electrical safety checks need to be in place for the use of tree lights. Ensure that these lights are incorporated into the PAT testing regime. All lights need to be checked for defects prior to use. If extension chords are to be used, then these should be taped down to prevent a slip, trip and fall hazard and need to conform with electrical safety standards.

If candles are to be used in the premises, ensure that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is in place. Ensure that candles are placed away from combustible materials such as curtains, napkins etc. Extra care to be taken when reaching over lit candles to serve and retrieve food or drinks. At the end of service ensure that candles are fully extinguished and stored in a safe manner such as within a metal box when you are sure that risk of re-ignition is eliminated.

If a designated area is provided for smoking ensure that sufficient ashtrays/receptacles are provided with regular safety checks carried out to ensure that discarded cigarettes are disposed of safely. Once the party/festivities have concluded ensure that waste is safely stored and disposed of, protect your business from possible arson.

If alcohol is to be served at your Christmas party ensure that plans are in place so that everyone gets home safety, and there is no temptation for drink driving.

Prior to the busy Christmas period we would recommend that refresher training be carried out with members of the team, focusing on manual handling and slips, trips and falls.

Lastly remember that whilst your business may be winding down for the festive season, Local Authority offices are still open. It is not uncommon for surprise visits when you least expect it, be prepared!

From all of us at CSC have a wonderful Christmas and prosperous New Year!