Failing to clean surfaces or equipment, wash hands and store food correctly are all considered bad hygiene in a level 2 food hygiene course.
Bad hygiene in a workplace is a serious issue, as it may contaminate food with bacteria or physical hazards. This poses a risk to public health.
Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) enforce food hygiene laws, and they may inspect your premises. They have powers to suspend food preparation until you fulfil certain criteria. Organisations should prepare for an inspection, and they can with a food hygiene level 2 certificate.
In recent years, EHO’s have imposed fines on more and more organisations. In 2018, a Birmingham restaurant was fined £50,000 for serving food on dirty wooden boards. It is believed that customers contracted food poisoning because of it. As a result, the business paid an additional £670 and £120 to the victims as compensation.
Bad Hygiene in Level 2 Food Courses
Level 2 food hygiene courses promote good legal practices. However, organisations still infringe on the law. Signs of bad hygiene in a level 2 food hygiene course are ultimately illegal, as they risk public health. Organisations may fail to comply by:
- Passing a course, but failing to properly implement its practices
- Failing to pass a course and not having a certificate
- Failing to provide key workplace provisions in the law, that mean employees cannot safely handle food (e.g. washing areas or cleaning products)
Despite this, not all responsibility lies with the employer. Ultimately, liability rests with the organisation, but employees must safely and properly perform the actions they learned about in the course. Below are things that violate good hygiene practice.
Dirty Workplace Surfaces and Equipment
Failing to clean surfaces and equipment can spread bacteria fairly easily.
Cleaners, under level 2 food hygiene, need a certificate too. This is because they touch surfaces that are used for food preparation.
This is important if you are handling meat, because you should thoroughly clean surfaces that had meat on them. In addition, using the same chopping board and knife for meat and vegetables is an easy way to cross contaminate vegetables. Either use different boards, or clean the knife and board thoroughly before chopping the veg.
This is the very first thing you should do before handling food. Hands can become dirty in a variety of ways, including:
- Sneezing or coughing into them
- Handling raw meat
- Eating and drinking
- Cuts on them
- Accidentally spilling chemicals on them
- Putting them into dirty washing-up water
If any of these occur, then wash your hands with clean water and soap right away. Where possible, wear plastic gloves or high-quality bandages when you cut your hand. You should change them when “you touch anything that would normally require you to wash your hands” like raw meat.
Improper Food Storage
Improper food storage at the wrong temperatures can lead to cross contamination. These temperatures are known as ‘critical limits’ in the HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) guidelines.
One of the most important limits to hit is below 5 degrees Celsius for fridges. If this is not achieved, you cannot guarantee that the growth of bacteria is stopped. Harmful bacteria will grow, causing food poisoning in the consumer.
In addition, throw away old food that is well-past its use by date. It may mould and spread onto newer food.
Finally, always place meat on the bottom shelf. You do not want anything below meat. This is because it can leak onto food below it, spreading harmful bacteria.
You should be washing hands, properly storing food and cleaning surfaces on a regular basis. To gain a level 2 food hygiene certificate, you need to demonstrate an understanding of the consequences of bad hygiene.