- Walkthrough Visual Scoresheet 3rd Edition
This is the third edition of Food Consulting Services’ Walkthrough Visual Scoresheet. To further improve its usefulness, the Walkthrough Visual Index is further sub-divided into four sub-indices as below:
- Visual Cleanliness:
As the title states; this section is concerned with the cleanliness of the kitchen. High risk items, such as food contact equipment (can opener blades, slicers, dough mixers, etc.) carry a larger penalty than lower risk items (walls, floors, ceilings, etc). This means that a kitchen can appear to be clean, but may still get a low score due to various high risk items being found dirty.
- Cleaning Procedures:
This section focuses on the provision and use of chemicals and proper washing and sanitation practices. Roughly, half the points of the walkthrough are awarded in this section. A kitchen may thus look spotless and yet score only 50% on this Index if there are no proper chemicals or cleaning procedures in place.
- Food Safety Practices:
This includes the correct storage of foods in fridges and dry storage, the maintenance of prepared foods at temperatures outside the “bacterial temperature danger zone”, personal hygiene, and some elements of pest control.
This section comprises of certificates, service reports and various checklists (daily, weekly, and monthly). The checklists are designed to enable one to detect problems that might arise in the kitchen before they become a food safety risk. For example; by keeping honest daily records of fridge temperatures one can see if there are any fridges that could be malfunctioning, which could lead to the growth of potentially dangerous micro-organisms on any food stored inside the fridge. Other documentation are required by law, such as the Certificate of Acceptability and pest control programmes.
All of the above information is “weighted” according to risk (for example, a lack of hand washing soap loses 30 points and high-risk foods left at 30°C results in a 50-point deduction, whereas dirty floor tile grouting only costs 1 point).
These sub-indices are calculated to give the most useful possible score in the overall (composite) hygiene index.
Separate Facilities Report
The basic design, condition and functioning of the premises and equipment is evaluated in a separate report; the Facilities Report. We separate the hygiene and facilities reports as many clients do not have direct control over these aspects (they may be tenants in the building, or the Maintenance is run by an entirely separate department). The facilities report has absolutely no impact on the overall (composite) hygiene index.
Who determines what yields a Pass?
The person(s) setting the examination chooses the passing mark. This decision is based on many factors, including the overall past performances of the persons being examined, statistical analysis, feedback from other experts, and the like.
We thus recommend the following guidelines:
- Below 50% Extremely concerning, critical risks
- 50% to 60% Many significant risks to be addressed
- 60% to 70% Mediocre, could be improved
- 70% to 80% Average, but still scope for work
- 80% to 90% Excellent, very few issues
- 90% or above Superb, extremely well-managed
Food Consulting Services (FCS) is a private South African owned Food Testing Laboratory. Visit our website to learn more about us today!
- The Importance of SANS 241
A common question around water safety and the water regulations is: what is the South African National Standard of drinking water and why is it important? We often hear about the South African National Standard (SANS), but are often not exactly sure what it means.
In order to understand SANS, we need to understand where the term comes from. The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) is a South African regulatory body established in terms of the Standards Act, 1945 (Act No. 24 of 1945). It continues to operate in terms of the newest edition of the Standards Act, 2008 (Act No. 29 of 2008) as the national institution for the promotion and maintenance of standardization and quality in connection with commodities and the rendering of services.
Access to safe drinking water is a basic human right and vital to human health. The South African National Standard (SANS) 241 Drinking Water Specification states the minimum requirements for potable water to be considered safe for human consumption.
These requirements include microbiological, chemical and physical properties of the water. Safe drinking water (that complies with SANS 241) does not pose a significant risk to health over a lifetime of consumption, including life stages with increased sensitivity (infants, babies, elderly and the immuno-compromised).
SANS 241 shows various properties of water need to be checked to determine if water is safe for consumption. SANS 241 categorizes the properties of water into 4 main risk categories and states the minimum values that water must conform to before being considered safe drinking water.
This is especially important when changing over to borehole water for your hotel / facility. If you are outside of the major cities, it is also worthwhile having your water tested against the SANS 241 standard.
In the link below are the physical, aesthetic, operational and chemical determinants of water according to the South African National Standard – http://www.dwa.gov.za/Dir_WS/DWQR/subscr/ViewComDoc.asp?Docid=605
Food Consulting Services is a private South African owned Food Testing Laboratory, that tests water and food to ensure compliance with South African National Standards. If you’d like to learn more about Food Consulting Services, visit our website or feel free to enquire with us. We look forward to hearing from you and becoming your food safety partners.
- What are Surface Swabs?
What are Surface Swabs?
The name ‘surface swab’ is slightly misleading to the layman because these are taken, not only from surfaces like food processing tables, but also crockery, cutlery, glassware, pots and pans, nylon cutting boards, utensils and high risk equipment, like blenders.
Surface swabs are tested for the most basic and widespread microbiological test, the “Standard Plate Count” (SPC), variously also called the aerobic plate count, total viable count, total microbial count – and various other names. The standard plate count essentially encourages the growth of most microbes, including bacteria and fungi, except for those that are “fastidious”, meaning that they require special growth factors (such as a lack of oxygen, an unusual temperature or a special sugar).
This is an excellent method for testing general sanitation of most inanimate objects because research (and our company’s, Food Consulting Services, decade’s worth of data) prove that proper cleaning and sanitizing of all the above-listed items, is well able to reduce bacterial numbers to very low levels or even below the threshold of detectability.
Each surface swabs test is part of a complete microbiological evaluation of a kitchen. Food Consulting Services does microbiological evaluations of surface swabs, hand swabs, food samples and water samples. These all form part of the complete evaluation. All these microbiological tests provide scientific evidence as to the food safety, hygiene and sanitation standards in the kitchen. Hygiene Audits offered by Food Consulting Services ensures that a statistically representative number of microbiological samples are evaluated to be able to provide a meaningful microbiological index for the surface swabs, hand swabs, food samples and a composite microbiological index.
The microbiological indices are presented on a graph and tracked over the previous three audits to provide a trend over time.
Food Consulting Services is a South African owned food testing Laboratory and Food Consultancy formed in 1977. Here at Food Consulting Services, we pride ourselves in accurate microbiology, chemistry, physical and sensory test results. Along with surface swab tests, we specialize in microbiological testing, auditing and consulting on hygiene and food safety in food factories, commercial kitchens as well as legionella risk audits.
Feel free to contact Food Consulting Services to request any information about food testing and consulting. We look forward to being your food safety partner.
- Hand Washing Techniques
Hand Washing Techniques
Personal hygiene is an integral part of preparing and serving safe food. Neatness,
cleanliness and maintaining hygiene is expected in every food and hospitality
establishment. Employers and staff have a legal and moral obligation to protect their
clients from becoming ill, following the consumption of their products.
Did you know that it is an offence to work in the kitchen or handle food if you are carrying or suffering from a disease that can be transmitted through food?
Pathogens can be carried on skin and hair, so it is essential that there is a high
standard of personal cleanliness and proper sanitation practices. It is vital that
employers communicate proper hygiene standards, such as clean hair, body and
clothing, prior to employment, and employers should uphold these standards with
Pathogens can also be carried internally. If a staff member is affected, or has been
exposed to, a communicable disease such as flu, respiratory problems, diarrhoea etc.
They should not be allowed to work in any area where food or food ingredients can be
contaminated. No staff should be allowed to smoke, eat or drink while handling food. Smoking,
eating or drinking will lead to staff members touching their face and mouths, whereby
harmful bacteria can be spread to their hands and then onto food. One of the easiest and most effective ways of demonstrating good hygiene practices are frequent hand washing.
Frequent hand washing with proper hand washing techniques will remove harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella, and viruses. Hands should be washed as often as necessary, especially when entering the kitchen and between all tasks. For different hand washing techniques, follow the steps listed in the image above.
All cuts, wounds and open sores must be kept covered with a waterproof bandage or plaster. Finger nails should be kept short, neat and clean and be free from polish and false nails. Harmful bacteria can get caught under long fingernails and will be transfer to food during preparation.
Is it okay to use gloves? The problem with gloves lies in situations where staff are not given proper food safety training. Often staff will perceive gloves as a barrier to food contamination, and carry out many non-food related tasks (e.g. handling money, emptying bins etc.) and go back to preparing food wearing the same pair of gloves. Gloves also tend to give off a false sense of security. Staff will not wash their hands often enough if they use gloves. Wearing gloves for a prolonged period without frequent hand washing allows bacteria on the skin to grow and multiply in the warm moist environment of the gloves.
For further questions on kitchen cleanliness, enquire with Food Consulting Services.
- Facebook Post – 30 March 2017
Legionnaires disease is a form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria, which kills about 13% of those infected. The disease is caught by breathing in aerosols (which are formed from fine water droplets) containing the Legionella bacteria. For information on how FCS can help reduce the risk of Legionella infection, and ensure EWGLI compliance, please contact us.
- Facebook Post – 27 March 2017
With the recent outbreak of typhoid fever in neighboring Zimbabwe, it is a good time to brush up on the facts of this dangerous illness.
Read more in our March Newsletter: March Newsletter
- Facebook Post – 24 March 2017
The FCS Hygiene Audit or Technical Survey is designed to evaluate the hygiene, sanitation, food safety and facilities in kitchens in the food service industry. The audits are performed for clients in the hotel, gaming, restaurant, and catering industries, and are tailor made to the unique needs of each client. Contact us today for more information!
- Facebook Post – 20 March 2017
Recently we received a phone call requesting the proper procedures for cleaning grease traps. Although it is highly recommended that you hire a professional cleaning company to clean your grease trap and dispose of the waste in an ethical and regulated fashion, we have included a few steps on how to clean a trap yourself in out March newsletter.
Read more here: March Newsletter
- Facebook Post – 13 March 2017
Helpful tip: It is essential to take and record temperatures of buffet food during service to ensure that temperature specifications are being met. Food temperatures should ideally be taken an hour into service in order to pick up any irregularities.
- Facebook Post – 10 March 2017
Our March newsletter has been released! Read all about the latest Typhoid Fever outbreak in Zimbabwe, and the most effective ways to clean a grease trap!
- Facebook Post – 24 February 2017
There are over 2500 seroptypes of the bacterium Salmonella, but only 100 will cause any form of food poisoning. Of these 100, it has now been discovered that some of these can cause long lasting negative effects on our DNA. “A person’s damaged DNA from Salmonella could lead to long-term health consequences after the infection subsides” says Martin Wiedmannt. Read more here and in our upcoming newsletters.
Food scientists at Cornell University has discovered that some Salmonella serotypes can have a lasting, negative effect on one’s DNA.
- Facebook Post – 17 February 2017
Food Consulting Services is an independent, professional hygiene, microbiology and food testing laboratory established in 1977. The FCS Hygiene Audit or Technical Survey is designed to evaluate the hygiene, sanitation, food safety and facilities in kitchens in the food service industry. Contact us today to get a quote!
- Facebook Post – 10 February 2017
Good to Know: More than 25% of the world’s crops are contaminated with poisonous moulds and fungi known as mycotoxins. Fungi on crops produce them in the field, during handling, and in storage. These toxic chemical compounds are a serious food safety threat as they cause disease and death in humans and animals worldwide. Aflatoxins, a type of mycotoxin, are carcinogenic and in Africa it can cause stunted growth in children. Mycotoxins resist break down in the digestive tract, and often persist in the food chain. Most preventative methods are employed in the harvest and post harvest stage of crops.
- Facebook Post – 6 February 2017
The bacterium Campylobacter is considered to be the most common bacterial cause of human gastroenteritis in the world. Campylobacteriosis is a zoonosis, meaning that the disease is transmitted to humans from animals or animal by-products. Read more about it here:
- Facebook Post – 3 February 2017
Our February newsletter has been released! Read more now:
- Facebook Post – 30 January 2017
We have now included (January 2017) the Corrective Action Report (C.A.R) into the audit requirements, under the Documentation section, and our team of auditors will be assessing whether the C.A.R has been actioned. Find out more in our January newsletter:
- Facebook Post – 27 January 2017
Not sure where to find various daily checklists and detailed cleaning procedures for your kitchen? Look no further: http://foodconsulting.co.za/documents/
- Facebook Post – 23 January 2017
Did you know? Bacteria, such as Listeria, can harmfully effect our pets too. A recall of a certain brand of dog food in the US was just announced. “Listeria can affect animals eating the product and there is a risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surface exposed to these products.” It can take up to 70 days for symptoms of Listeria infection to develop after exposure. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or bloody diarrhoea, abdominal cramping and fever. It is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly, children and people with compromised immune systems.
- Facebook Post – 20 January 2017
Salmonellosis is the most common and widely distributed foodborne illness, with tens of millions human cases occurring worldwide every year. It is caused by the bacterium, Salmonella, and is contracted by consuming food that is contaminated with the bacterium. Since the beginning of the 1990s several antibiotic- resistant salmonella strains emerged, causing a serious public health concern. There is no vaccine currently available. So how can you prevent Salmonella infection? Read more in our January newsletter.
- Facebook Post – 16 January 2017
Our January newsletter has been published! Read more here: