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Food poisoning: Know your boards

When it comes to choosing some pieces of cafe furniture or bar furniture for your new or established food and drink business, cool design takes second place to functionality. Never is this truer than when purchasing a set of chopping boards for your establishment as food hygiene should be an essential factor in your decision. In fact, for certain types of food there are very specific requirements imposed by the Environmental Health Office that must be adhered to. As Ibrahim's Grill and Steakhouse, a Birmingham restaurant, recently discovered when they were fined £50,000 for using badly damaged wooden chopping boards. 

Plastic boards - The Environmental Health Office recommends, but does not require, the use of multicoloured plastic chopping boards as a standard for food service. Resistant lightweight plastic materials prevent deep scoring or scratches which can harbour harmful bacteria and are also much easy to wash thoroughly after every use. The colour coding system recommended by the EHO is also effective in preventing cross-contamination (where foods with a potential to carry infection come into contact with food ready to be served) as each colour board is used for a different type of food. The recommended colour codes are: red for raw meat, blue for raw fish, yellow for cooked protein, green for fruit and salad, brown for veg, white for bread and dairy. Having an individual board for each type of food helps prevent high-risk food, such as raw meat, from contaminating food that is served raw such as salad, a major cause of food poisoning outbreaks in the UK.

Maintaining wooden boards - As it is not a requirement to use plastic boards, you may opt for heavier wooden boards in your kitchen for a number of reasons. If you have an open kitchen, wooden boards can lend an air of style they are also heavier duty than plastic boards and can last for many years longer. Wooden boards have a softer surface than resistant plastic too, and therefore can be marked easier; as a result, they should be regularly sanded to ensure that any indents are not deep enough to harbour bacteria during cleaning. If you do choose to use wooden boards you should still have multiple that are marked in some way to indicate raw and ready to serve food. This will allow you to prevent cross-contamination despite using wooden boards. Be aware also that if you do choose to employ the use of wooden boards, an EHO Officer will want to ensure they are being properly maintained when they inspect your premises.

It is important to be aware of food hygiene requirements when buying any kitchen equipment and you should make sure you are up to date with current EHO legislation before committing to a purchase. Remember, when it comes to kitchen equipment, the health of your customers is paramount.

Posted by: Josh Seddon

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