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Avoiding an Unwanted Christmas Present

GH-Training Solutions

Avoiding an Unwanted Christmas Present

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 Avoiding turkey trots at christmas

Everyone likes to make a little extra effort at Christmas. Last weekend, several shops were taking part in a local Christmas Fayre. I noticed a mobile repair shop laying out a little table with a soup kettle on, plugged into an extension cable which trailed across the entrance of the shop (which was open to the public). The shop owner then came out with a plastic tub of cooked rice and proceeded to fill the soup kettle.

A number of immediate concerns popped into my mind, although my family thought I was being a Grinch. I realised how at Christmas, it seems to be ok to bend (or disregard) the rules, because “it’s only the once” and you’re “being festive”.

However, there is a real risk that you could give your customers or guests a very unwanted Christmas present. Nothing feels less festive than food poisoning.

You may be hosting a special event, or simply expecting more people than usual to cater for. Whatever your Christmas period plans, here are some simple steps you can take to ensure your usually high standards are maintained during this busy period, based on the 3 P’s Framework that I use in my free eBook (Embracing an EHO Visit – a practical business toolkit) available to download here.


  • During this busy period, don’t compromise on hygiene; you may need to buy in extra supplies such as hand wash for both the kitchen and customer toilets, cleaning products, etc. You may need to review your cleaning rota to cope with increased usage.
  • If you don’t have enough equipment to keep food safe, can you bring in a temporary measure, for example, a mobile refrigerator.
  • You may want to rearrange your furniture to accommodate additional seating – make sure that emergency exits are still accessible and of course, it can be a good time to clean behind some rarely moved benches!
  • Consider Health & Safety when setting up displays and decorations and also for any entertainment provided.


  • Don’t accept more bookings than you can safely handle. Consider your preparation, cooking and storage spaces as well as your man power.
  • It is important to be organised, but don’t try and get too far ahead of yourself; preparing food too far in advance gives bacteria the opportunity to thrive.
  • If you have new ingredients in the kitchen, ensure they are labelled clearly especially allergens.
  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold with minimal time spent at ambient temperature.
  • Make sure you have time to cook poultry thoroughly, including chicken liver pate.


People & Policies

  • If you’re doing a special menu, have you reviewed your food safety management system or HACCP procedures, and have you made any relevant changes?
  • Have staff been trained in new food processes, especially any additional seasonal staff you’ve taken on?
  • Have you updated your allergy advice and checked with customers for any dietary requirements?
  • What are your contingency plans, just in case you have boiler failure, staff call in sick etc?

A good food safety culture plays a key role in your brand image and reflects a commitment from the management team. Although it can take extra effort to set up and build this culture, it makes life a lot easier in the long run.

Assess how well your business is performing by using the checklist in my free eBook, Embracing an EHO Visit – A practical toolkit for businesses, available to download here.

If you think you or your team could benefit from extra Food Safety advice or training please get in touch.

Scores on the Doors

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Food Safety Ratings Score

Are you aware that in 2019, it is likely that it will become mandatory to display your food hygiene rating? Given that some scores displayed on are dated from 2 or 3 years ago, the score you receive at your next inspection could be the one you’re stuck with.

How does that make you feel? Are you happy and confident? Maybe you’ve chosen to display your score already, because you’re proud of that 5 that you’ve worked hard for. Or you’ve recognised the benefit displaying the score gives in the form of customer confidence.

Or does it make you feel anxious? How much of that anxiety is because you are disappointed by your score? Do you worry that displaying a low score will deter customers?

Evidence does indicate that a low score can have a negative impact on your sales; when questioned, 68% of consumers in England said they would base their decision on purchasing food on the food hygiene rating.

But what was the lowest acceptable score in the consumers’ eyes?

Over the past years, the lowest acceptable score in England has actually increased from a 3 to a 4, showing a trend towards consumers demanding higher quality behind-the-scenes as well as on the plate.

So if your business scores a 3 or less, you are essentially losing a large number of potential customers, who will actively choose to avoid spending money with you – can you afford to do this?

So, if you don’t want this to be you – now is the time to act. Invest your time and energy in bringing your business up to a good standard and be proud to display your score.

Need further advice? I have put together a free Toolkit to help you ‘Embrace your EHO visit’. Download it here.

 For hints and tips or food safety training advice, please contact me.

5 Do’s and Don’ts to prevent food allergies becoming a problem in your business

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Following on from the recent food allergy prosecution, it was reported that food safety training had been insufficient. Here are 5 simple steps you as a food business owner or manager can take to keep your customers safe:

  • DO make sure all food handlers have received the appropriate level of food safety training – know the 14 allergens and really understand how life threatening they can be. This is not the customer being difficult, but rather their life depends on what we do.
  • DON’T assume everyone knows the ingredients of a dish, what may be obvious for the chefs is not necessarily obvious for the waiter.
  • In the kitchen or food preparation area, DO ensure ingredients containing allergens are clearly labelled and separated.
  • Do make sure that your allergy information about your dishes is up-to-date, easy to understand and available for customers.
  • DO make sure your emergency procedures are clear and well known to staff so that they can help quickly should they need it.

More tips and guidelines for dealing with food allergens are covered in Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4 Food Safety courses. In house allergen specific courses can also be arranged.



Food Allergies – The price of (not) training

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In the UK, like most developed countries, the increase in people with food allergies is described as an ‘Epidemic of food allergies’ with several possible contributing factors.

Whatever the cause, this epidemic is not something the food industry can ignore and is set to increase in the future.

Since changes in food safety and hygiene regulations in 2014, there is a legal requirement for information to be provided for both packaged and unpackaged food.

As food providers, we also have a legal and moral responsibility to ensure we take reasonably practicable measures to keep our customers safe from allergies.

This together with changes in sentencing legislation has meant in the last 2 years we have seen an increase in prosecutions relating to food allergies as well as an increase in fines and prison sentences handed out. The most recent being a nursery who was fined £10 000 following a child in their care being rushed to hospital after being fed pesto containing cashew nuts. Staff had been told that the child was allergic to nuts, but failed to read the ingredient list. Findings showed there was a failure in food safety training.

Although finding the time and money to pay for food safety and hygiene training courses seems onerous, it would have cost a lot less than the £10 000 fine, let alone the cost of a damaged reputation. More importantly, what is the cost of a life?

Read the article here:

GH Training Solutions are an established provider of in house and public training courses for food safety Levels 1-4. Click here for more details.