Some foods need particular care when preparing them, as when handled improperly they are very suitable 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 -failure to do so may affect your Food Hygiene Rating and could result in enforcement action being taken against you.

Listed below are some foods which require this extra care:

'Sous vide' cooking

Cooking foods ‘Sous Vide’ involves sealing the food in a plastic pouch using a vacuum sealer machine, then cooking it at a temperature lower than normal to improve the quality of the final product. The lower temperatures and oxygen-free environment this method uses are ideal for some food poisoning bacteria to grow, meaning extra caution has to be exercised when preparing food in this way. For guidance on this process, please see this leaflet produced by Allerdale Council.

Burgers cooked less than well done

If you plan to serve burgers rare or to any standard less than well done, you should discuss this with us beforehand.

Burgers that are purposefully left slightly raw after cooking can present a major risk to health if improperly managed, as bacteria such as E.coli O157 may survive the cooking process and cause significant harm. The Food Standards Agency has published an extensive guidance document on this topic, and the steps that a food business must take to effectively manage the risks.

In March 2017, the Food Standards Agency introduced a requirement that any supplier that intends to supply minced meat or meat products intended to be eaten less than well-cooked must be approved by their local authority or the Food Standards Agency. Linked here is the current list of approved suppliers that you must use if you intend to carry out this process.


Rice needs to be cooked and stored safely. When cooling and reheating rice, care needs to be taken that the rice is cooled quickly before storing in the fridge and when reheating, it needs to be thoroughly reheated so that it is piping hot all the way through. The Food Standards Agency has produced a safe methods sheet for their Safer Food Better Business pack which details how to cook rice safely.

Chicken liver pâté 

Freshly prepared chicken liver pâté has the potential to cause food poisoning if it is not prepared and cooked properly. The Food Standards Agency provides a safe method  which should be followed to ensure the product is safe.

The handling of oysters and mussels at retail and catering outlets 

Handling and serving live oysters or mussels is different to handling and serving other ready-to eat foods. You need to look after a live animal and ensure that it remains alive until it is either eaten or cooked. In the event of an incident or recall it is essential to be able to trace oyster or mussels back to the dispatch centre they came from.

These notes will help you to maintain traceability and maintain your oysters or mussels in the best condition so that the health and satisfaction of your customers is safeguarded.

Traceability - 

All packages of live oysters or mussels must be accompanied by a dated health/ID mark on an indelible, water resistant label like the one shown below.

Health mark

This label shows the identification number of the establishment from which they have come (in the oval), a batch number, date of packaging and declaration that animals must be alive when sold.

These details should be sufficient to identify the actual bed from which the oysters or mussels were harvested. Keep the ID/health mark details for at least 60 days in case this information is needed. The easiest way to do this is to affix the label into your food safety records or (SFBB) diary on the day of delivery.

Try to avoid using oysters or mussels from different suppliers at the same time, but if this is unavoidable devise your own method of being able to identify who ate oysters or mussels from which supplier.

Reception and delivery -

  • Check the health/ID mark. If there is no health/ID mark or information about the source, reject the consignment
  • Check that the vehicle is clean and that the oysters or mussels have not been mixed with raw fish or kept in hot and dirty conditions

Storage -

  • Always keep the oysters stored with the curved (convex) side downwards. This helps to retain the fluid in the shell and keep them alive
  • Store the oysters or mussels in a deep bowl (to prevent leaks) and away from other open foods. Do not store below raw meat or fish
  • Keep them cool (ideally between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius). Do not re-immerse oysters or mussels in water. They will have been properly purified at the depuration centre and any further immersion risks re-contaminating them

Handling - 

  • Wash (and dry) your hands thoroughly using warm soapy water, before handling and opening the oysters
  • Ensure the oysters or mussels are tightly shut. If they are already open they are not alive and shouldn't be eaten
  • Ensure that the knives and other equipment (including gloves if you wear them) used for opening the oysters are all clean before you start
  • Check that the outside shells of the oysters or mussels are clean and avoid pushing any mud or bits of shell into the oyster as you open it
  • Use a cleaned or different shucking knife for each batch of oysters
  • Serve promptly. Ideally only shuck oysters to order

Food handlers' fitness to work -

It is important to ensure that any food handlers suffering from gastrointestinal illness are excluded from work relating to food handling duties and that they cannot enter a food handling area. This exclusion is usually for 48 hours after an individual no longer shows symptoms of illness. This is particularly important when handling products that are served raw, such as oysters.

Bacteria and viruses can still be found in someone's faeces after symptoms stop. It is therefore important that managers continue to exclude food handlers for a period of time after this. It is recommended that people should be excluded for 48 hours after they stop showing symptoms of diarrhoea.

Related links -

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