Hygiene and Traceability in Catering: Find Out What To Do!

Hygiene and traceability: everything you need to know to guarantee maximum food safety for your consumers

Published on 08/31/2021Sébastien Vassaux

Hygiene and traceability are crucial subjects for any professional of the CHR. However, the implementation of good practices in order to guarantee maximum food safety for your consumers requires knowledge and understanding of the issues of hygiene and traceability. Discover the steps to follow to achieve this.

1. Sanitary obligations to know and respect

1/ Hygiene rules in restaurants and food shops

In order to guarantee maximum food safety for your customers, compliance with sanitary rules by professionals in the catering industry is strictly regulated and subject to frequent controls. These sanitary rules concern different key points:

Premises, materials and equipment:

  • Staff hygiene
  • Drinking water supply
  • Food storage and preservation
  • Waste
  • Health declaration
  • Controls

These regulations oblige professionals to respect several principles:

  • Respect good hygiene practices
  • To set up procedures based on the HACCP principles
  • To train its employees in food hygiene and in the application of the HACCP principles
  • To set up a system of traceability
  • Implement withdrawal and recall procedures
  • Declare its activity to the hygiene services

2/ The Sanitary Control Plan

On January 1, 2006, the "Hygiene Package" came into force in the European Union;

The purpose of this text is to regulate the hygiene of restaurants. This new law introduced the implementation of the Sanitary Control Plan (SCP).

What is the Sanitary Control Plan?

The Sanitary Control Plan is a mandatory document for any restaurant. It describes the actions implemented by an establishment to guarantee hygiene, but also food safety, concerning microbiological, physical, chemical and allergenic dangers.

This document attests that you have implemented the necessary means to protect the health of your consumers. However, the SCP is an evolving document, which must be updated regularly, but also adapted to the specificities of your establishment.

The sanitary control plan (SCP) must be composed of 4 main parts :

  • the control of general and specific good hygiene practices 
  • the HACCP plan validated and regularly updated
  • the traceability system
  • and finally the management of non-conforming products

3/ Training in hygiene practices for people handling food

When you open a restaurant, it is important to take into account that some training courses are mandatory. This is the case of the training in good hygiene practices for people handling food.

This HACCP training is mandatory since October 1, 2012. Commercial catering establishments must have at least one person in their workforce who can prove the training certificate in food hygiene. It must be taken into account that all persons handling food within the establishment must have at least received instructions concerning hygiene rules.

Two types of establishments are concerned by this training:

Traditional restaurants (restaurants, tapas bars, caterers, cafeterias and self-service restaurants).

Fast food restaurants (snacks, fast-food, food-trucks, kebabs...).

Many training organizations offer this training course which lasts 2 days (14 hours) and which abides by precise specifications. The cost of this training course varies between 250€ and 500€ per person depending on the organization.

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2. The HACCP method

According to the law, any owner of a catering establishment must be able to put in place the principles of prevention and control in order to ensure the safety of consumers and prevent risk. The HACCP method is therefore necessary for any restaurant professional wishing to comply with the law.

The HACCP method stands for "Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point" and is translated into French as "Système d'analyse des dangers - Points critiques pour leur maîtrise". This method, invented by NASA, was born in the 1960s. It was originally used to ensure the food safety of astronauts!

Here are 7 principles to better understand the HACCP method:

  1. Identify hazards and assess risks for food safety, using the 5M method
  2. Identify the critical points to prevent risks
  3. Set limits for each critical point
  4. Establish a monitoring system for critical points
  5. Establish corrective measures
  6. Establish self-checking procedures to verify the effectiveness of the measures taken;
  7. Establish a record of all procedures and records relating to the above six principles and their implementation

3. How to apply the regulatory obligations

1. The goods and the temperature of the dishes

Traceability and control of incoming goods

When receiving goods, it's essential to check the products. To ensure the quality of the products, different elements must be checked:

  • The conformity of the temperature of the truck and the products
  • The cleanliness of the delivery truck
  • The products (temperature, packaging, expiration date, labeling...)

Attention, if you notice any non-conformity, it's necessary to refuse the goods before unloading.

All food items received in the establishment, but also the dishes produced, must be traced. Traceability allows, in case of food poisoning for example, to quickly determine the origin of a product.

It's therefore important to take the time to check the labels when receiving the products. This one must contain :

  • The name of the company
  • The address
  • The name of the product
  • The batch number and the expiration date

Concerning the central kitchens, a downward traceability must also be implemented. To implement this traceability, it's necessary to keep or copy the labels of the raw materials, but also to allocate batch numbers to the various productions.

This traceability passes by the conservation or the recopying of the labels of the raw materials and by the attribution of batch numbers to the various productions.

The temperature of food preparations

To avoid intoxication of your consumers, it's essential to pay attention to the temperature of food preparations. Here is what you need to know:

  • In the kitchen, a cooling of food preparations from +63°C to +10°C must be done within 2 hours
  • After this cooling, the dishes must be kept between 0 and +3°C
  • Reheating from +10°C to +63°C should be done within 1 hour

2. Refrigeration elements and oil stations

The temperature record of the refrigeration equipment

It's important to regularly check the temperature of your refrigerators and freezers, to make sure that your goods have not broken the cold chain.

To check the temperature, you can use a thermometer, stored in your cold room. You should record the temperature on a regular basis, either in a logbook or directly in a kitchen management software.

Controlling the quality of frying oil in oil stations

After several consecutive uses, the quality of your frying oils deteriorates. This alters the taste, which is problematic for the quality of your preparations, but can also make them toxic.

The decree n°2008-184, specifies that the acceptable limit of TTCP* (total content of polar compounds) is 24%. To measure this content, several methods are available to you:

  • Test strips
  • Tests with chemical reagents
  • Electronic testers

3. Hygiene of premises and personnel

The cleaning and disinfection plan for areas and surfaces

Regulations require that in each establishment preparing, storing or distributing food items, the premises and equipment must be in an impeccably clean state. For that, each professional must define precisely a cleaning and disinfection plan.

The cleaning plan is built around these different categories:

  • What? What surfaces need to be cleaned?
  • When? This is the frequency and the times when the cleaning operations must be carried out.
  • With what? This is the list of equipment used per area.
  • How? This is the way in which the cleaning and disinfecting is to be carried out.
  • Who is in charge of cleaning and disinfecting each area.

Staff hygiene

The law requires that each person working in an area using food must respect a certain level of personal cleanliness and wear appropriate clothing (gloves, masks, caps, aprons).

The most used work tool, the hands, the cleaning of these must be meticulous and regular. The contact between contaminated hands and your products can have a very dangerous effect on the health of your consumers.

If a person is ill, and it can be transmitted through food, should not go to work under any circumstances. It's their responsibility to notify their boss.