Guidance for Higher Risk Processes
Some foods need particular care when preparing them, as when handled improperly they are very susceptible for food poisoning bacteria to grow in.
If you are planning to serve any of these foods, your written Food Safety Management System will need to detail your preparation methods and how you are controlling the risk adequately. You must also ensure your staff have received suitable training in your safe methods and can carry out the process safely.
Vacuum packing is when foods are stored in packaging and then placed into a machine that draws the air out of the packet and seals them. There are many benefits to this practice including to improve portion control, storage practices and to increase the shelf life of the products.
Vacuum packing can be done safely quite easily but when it is mis managed then there are increased risks in these products due to the risk of the bacteria clostridium botulinum growing, as this grows well without air present.
Further details on vacuum packing can be found on the food standards agency website including the full vacuum packing guidance document
Free online vacuum packing training is available on the food standards agency website.
Sous vide means to cook ‘under vacuum’ in French. This is usually done slowly in a water bath with vacuum packed pieces of food, usually meat and fish.
The main risks to sous vide cooking is not cooking the product for long enough or at a suitable temperature, this can lead to the growth of bacteria in the product. For further information, please see our leaflet on further guidance for Sous Vide cooking.
Rare burgers, steak tartar, carpaccio
Cooking burgers and other meat dishes less than thoroughly cooked carries a risk of food poisoning. Harmful bacteria can be carried on the surface of whole cuts of meat. When a rare steak is seared these bacteria are killed, making the steak safe to eat.
When meat is minced to produce burgers, any harmful bacteria from the surface of the raw meat spreads throughout the burger. Unless the burger is cooked right through, these bacteria can remain alive on the inside. This applies to all burgers, including burgers made from good quality or expensive meat.
When meat is served raw such as carpaccio or steak tartar, there is a risk that there is dangerous bacteria present on these products as they have not undergone any heat treatment to kill the bacteria. Suitable controls must be put in place before serving these dishes to ensure the risk is reduced.
The Food Standards Agency has produced a detailed guide on how burgers can be served less than thoroughly cooked.
If you wish to serve burgers or other meat dishes less than through cooked its strongly recommend that you contact us first so we can talk through your plans to ensure you have a safe method in place before starting.
Raw egg dishes
Raw eggs have a risk of food poisoning due to levels of salmonella and campylobacter present. However there have been improved food safety controls in the UK hen egg industry in recent years. So infants, children, people who are pregnant, and people aged 65 or over can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked hen eggs, or foods containing them if they have a British Lion mark or are produced under the Laid in Britain egg assurance scheme.
This advice does not apply to individuals who are severely immunocompromised and require medically supervised diets prescribed by health professionals.
We would always recommend the use of pasteurised eggs in any dish where it is not going to be thoroughly cooked.
Raw fish such as Sushi or Cured fish, ceviche
Raw fish has a risk of containing parasites that are naturally present in the waters where they live, including UK waters. Thorough cooking kills these parasites and makes them harmless when consumed.
The Food Standards agency has provided additional guidance to fish and freezing exemptions here
Offal including parfait and pate
Offal including livers and kidneys are organs, unlike whole cuts of muscle meat such as steak, bacteria can be found throughout these offal products and must be cooked thoroughly to ensure any bacteria present are killed.
For further guidance on cooking safely, please visit the food standards agency website.
If you have any questions or queries please contact us using our online query form.