These used to be the words we used to open every meeting with during my corporate years. Before every meeting, every conference call or any kind of group interactions, the topic was safety first. At management level, at some point, it had become a nonsensical obsession. In other words, it was THE goal above all goals. It was a race between departments. Which department can identify ( read: come up with ) as many possible hazardous situations and claim the winning title? Along with a slice of a mediocre pizza. Just to clarify or remind you: we worked in a fancy white office. Not a manufacturing, construction, medical or any other indeed possibly dangerous site. But a very safe office, where all safety measures had already been accounted for. As I mentioned: unrequited preoccupation. And of course, I had to take part in it. Money was involved.
However, now it’s different. Or I feel differently about it😊. When you work in the food industry, every little thing counts. Let me clarify: every microscopic thing counts. It’s no longer a matter of doing some task you think of as baloney, because it will show somewhere on a report🙄. It’s now an issue of someone’s health, well being, reputation as a business and ok, money also. However, if you think of money as your first incentive, as opposed to someone’s health then you’re here for the wrong reason.
So where am I going with this sober introduction ? First days of pastry school were all about food safety, food poisoning ( not how to cause it, how to avoid it lol😅) , proper storage rules, legislation regarding food production, ingredients storage and handling, food labeling, kitchen safety. That’s why I was wondering how I’ve never gotten food poisoning or killed someone with my cooking or baking🤣.
Of course I’ve always followed some guidelines I’ve picked on from all the cooking shows I binged on. Especially when it came to baking for people outside of my home. For instance, I would always tie my hair in a bun ( this is looking at you Magda Gessler ) , use the spoon only once for tasting, wash my hands often, dry the utensils with a paper towel. Things like that.
But now it’s all on a whole new level. It’s Monica cleaning obsession kind of level.
So what have we done so far ?
We’ve been introduced to the most common regulations regarding food hygiene, which target the whole chain from producers and farms to restaurants, a chain also known as Farm to Fork , Farm to Table or even Farm to School. This same concept address food traceability. Further, these guidelines take notice of the importance of animal and plant health. Finally, the instructors dived into the different ways of food contamination and how to avoid it. These regulations are recognized as HACCP, ISO 9001:2008 and the White Paper on Food Safety, which have been the building blocks for the now all encompassing SR EN ISO 22000:2005. We also learned about the common bacteria and parasites👾 that could contaminate food💀, their side effects and of course, how to prevent them. Salmonella, E-coli and Listeria to name a few. YUCK!
What is food traceability ?
Food traceability allows different parties to identify the movement and source of every ingredient or product used in the food industry. This can be pin pointed to an exact date, time and location. The scope is to be able to trace back every good traced, especially if issues of contamination arise. Further, businesses which keep a firm hand on their quality control, can detect elements that could affect the quality of their final products as well as those that bring a low return. For instance, the EU uses a web-based veterinarian certification tool known as TRACES, that monitors the movement of all live stocks and animal products.
What did I take from all of it ?
As a future pastry chef, proper hygiene should become second-nature. Borderline obsession and never turn a blind eye.
FYI, I’ve already had to take my first routine tests to allow me to work in the food industry, which I’ll have to take every 6 months.
If you want to keep up with my pastry school shenanigans, follow my blog and social media (FB; IG) for future posts. The fun part is just ahead 😉.Likewise, you can hit me up with a comment or message or even a virtual coffee date. I’m a big fan of those since the pandemic. Also, if you happen to live in Bucharest, you can help me with my homework.
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