Last month I had the local Environmental Health team carry out the regular inspection checking my kitchen and documentation. The whole process fills me with some trepidation even though I know I run my kitchen well in terms of recording temperatures, cleaning and other processes. It is still a nerve wracking visit. This one took nearly two hours.
I have to say that the inspection and conversation about how I use my kitchen, cooking techniques and all the other stuff was a good experience. As long as you have done the work, show your processes and that you know what you are doing then the experience and result should be good.
I am fully supportive of the role of the EHOs and the need to ensure that food being served and sold to customers is made in the best environments and controls. What I find frustrating is the layering of new regulations on to the food and catering industry. I find that a larger percentage of my time is being consumed by these regulations and less on the cooking. It seems to me that this is a potential risk in itself. The focus on recording information and monitoring adds to the cost of the food production. This can only be a bad thing as it will push up costs over the longer term. Europe is at the centre of these changes and it is being done without the understanding of how a kitchen works. These bureaucrats implement regulations with no real consideration of the impact on the businesses and people involved.
The latest regulations on allergens are a great idea but to impose them a week before Christmas seems a mad way of getting the industry onside. The work to prepare all the required documentation to be in line with them took the best part of a week to do and to communicate to my clients. I am a small business, imagine the time and costs for the larger food manufacturers. Plus for every event I do I have to have a page on the ingredients and allergens that may be in each dish. This adds to the documentation and time, can I pass on the cost to my clients? Probably not. So its the businesses that eat the cost of the European regulation machine!
That being said the result of my inspection this year was…..
A great result for me – the second 5 rating!