There are a number of factors that contribute to food poisoning, including incorrect temperatures, cross
contamination and poor hygiene and when you add high-risk foods to the equation, you have all the
ingredients for a bacterial banquet.
So, what are the high-risk foods?
• Eggs and dairy – can contain bacteria such as Salmonella. Use only clean, unbroken eggs
and pasteurised milk products and always store dairy products at suitably cool temperatures.
• Seafood – because it is often eaten raw, extra care needs to be taken. Always keep seafood
chilled during transport and storage and eat within the prescribed time frame. Shellfish such
as oysters are particularly high-risk, because of their ability to absorb bacteria and toxins from
polluted water, so always buy your seafood from a reputable supplier.
• Stews and gravies – can be a breeding ground for bacteria such as Clostridium perfringens,
if allowed to sit at warm temperatures for too long. Ideally, they should be divided into smaller
batches to allow for faster cooling before refrigeration.
Cooked noodles, rice and pasta – bacterial spores found in dry rice can often survive boiling
water, so always eat cooked rice immediately or refrigerate. Bacillus cereus is the most
common form of bacteria associated with starchy foods such as rice, pasta and potatoes.
• Smallgoods such as ham and salami – can harbour bacteria such as Salmonella, E.Coli and
Campylobacter, so they must always be prepared and stored safely, particularly raw meats.
• Sandwiches, quiches and prepared salads – because these often contain high-risk
ingredients, they should also be treated with the same respect. Staphylococcus aureus is a
form of bacteria often associated with food poisoning from eating salads (particularly egg, tuna,
macaroni and potato salads).
Contaminated food can often look and smell quite normal, so extra care must be taken when dealing
with high-risk foods, particularly when preparing them for young children, pregnant women, the elderly
and people with chronic illnesses.
The risk of food becoming unsafe in your business will depend on the types of food you sell and how
you store, prepare and handle food. If dealing with high-risk foods, remember to always cook and store
them at the correct temperature and in the correct manner to prevent cross-contamination and always
observe sound hygiene practices in food preparation areas.