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Food Safety Begins with Accurate Labelling

Food Safety Begins with Accurate Labelling

Chefs and Restaurant Managers understand the link between accurate food labelling and food safety. However, their staff may not be so well informed. With that in mind, below is a concise and easy to follow Food Label Guide which may be used as a training tool to bring staff up to speed, improve the quality of kitchen output and enhance food safety. This quick guide is designed to cover the main food labels, explains their uses and open a dialogue between management and staff.

Food Advisory Labels are essential for protecting public health. Many members of the public are susceptible to certain ingredients so their health must be protected. Additionally, some people choose to avoid certain ingredients and their wishes must be respected. These food safety labels clarify which ingredients may be found in various foods and cover items such as

 fish, nuts, sesame seeds, dairy free, diabetic, gluten free, Halal, lactose free, low fat, low fibre, no added salt, no added sugar, no butter, no eggs, vegan and vegetarian.

DayDots are a staple in most professional kitchens. As the name suggests, they indicate a given day of the week when food was placed in holding. Consequently, they rely on staff being aware of how long each type of food may remain held. They are only useful for food that is suitable for short-term storage. DayDots are colour-coded and represent a simple, low fuss method of labelling foods. Many kitchens regard them as indispensable.

Month Coders are similar to DayDots in that they indicate the month food was placed in storage. Usually suited to dry or frozen foods, these labels are colour-coded for easy identification.

(Note – both DayDots and Month Coders are most effective when accompanied by a ‘Store Food Correctly Poster’ indicating the appropriate storage terms for various foods.)

Shelf Life labels must be filled out by staff who understand how long various foods may be safely stored. Sometimes, this information appears on the food’s packaging. However, for prepared foods this may vary.  Use these labels to record prep date and use by date in conjunction with training to promote optimal food safety handling procedures.

Prep and Product labels contain information such as the product name, date it was produced, who produced it, date it was frozen, and date defrosted, or date opened. These labels are particularly helpful in professional kitchens producing a high number of frozen dishes as this information is often forgotten over time.

Engage with your staff in a meaningful training session by discussing the food safety labelling procedures outlined in this guide. Morale, professionalism, food quality and customer satisfaction will all improve as a natural consequence.

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