Food outlets are always very important as it helps individuals who may not have the capacity to eat in their houses for various reasons. Hygiene is one of the most important factors to be considered in a food outlet. Most of the food outlets have failed to take care of the hygiene in their premises, putting their customers at great risk of getting diseases due to the contamination of food they eat. The country spends a lot of money treating health-related complications. Manzella (2007, p. 67) says that some of the citizens of this great nation have lost their lives because of unhygienic foods served to them. This is very unfortunate in this twenty-first century with all the sophisticated tools and machines that have been invented to help in keeping foodstuffs safe for consumption. The ministry of health has pushed for laws to be enacted by the parliament to help govern the sale of food within this country. The city council of London and many other cities within this country has also come up with regulations that would help enhance hygiene in the food outlets.
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The regulations are not meant to punish proprietors in this industry. However, they are meant to ensure that everyone who visits the stores is safe from any risk of food contamination. Cases involving food poisoning at food outlets are on the rise. This has raised a lot of concern from the government. This act is unacceptable, and relevant authorities have been trying to come up with mechanisms through which such cases can be eliminated within the country. A food outlet that is not properly arranged will make such criminal acts very simple, hence encouraging them. When there is a proper arrangement within such outlets, with duties clearly set for every worker, Hasler (2005, p. 71) observes that such cases are reduced. People will be responsible for their actions as they will be aware that a lack of being irresponsible comes with serious consequences. It is on this basis that we conducted research on a particular hotel within the city where customers have registered complaints.
Critical Analysis of the Food Premise and Evaluation of the Impact it has on Food Safety
As an environmental Health Practitioner, it is my responsibility to ensure that all the food premises in this city work within the set limits in regard to hygiene and food safety within the premises. It is with this mandate that we conducted an inspection on November 16th, 2012 at Sunshine Work Chinese Take Away. The need to conduct this inspection was necessitated by the complaints that were received from the customers about the food served at this store. Several customers had posted their complaints about the food they took from this store. As the authority concerned of this department, we informed the management that we would be visiting the store to discuss the complaints posted by these customers. This information was passed to the management a few minutes before our arrival to ensure that they do not create a different face of the premise from what is actually the case. To make the management more relaxed about the visit, we informed them that our visit will take a short time, as the management was only expected to offer an explanation (Marshall Cavendish Corporation 2010, p. 92). Upon arrival, however, we conducted a full food hygiene inspection on the store. The following is the report that I complied from this inspection.
Several issues were found to be making the place unfit for a food outlet. The first factor that was odd was the location of the premise. The owner of the business resides in a flat above the food premise. This was posing various hygiene threats to this premise, especially given the fact that various objects coming from the owner’s house would drop within this facility. Children playing in the flat above could easily drop objects in containers within the facility from above.
The inspection then moved to the store of the premise. The findings from the store were horrifying. The store was completely disorganized. Food was scattered all over the floor. It was nearly impossible to walk on this floor without stepping and kicking the foodstuffs. The fact that the room was poorly lit complicated the whole matter. The store depended on the light from the tiny windows on two sides of the store. The windows were shut when we were conducting the inspection, leaving the room dimly lit. It was very easy to knock off objects as one entered the room. There was a bulb covered in black soot at one corner of the store. When lit, the bulb could hardly provide enough light for the room. The condition of the walls in this store was pathetic. The paints were peeling off in most parts of the wall (Roday 1999, p. 89). Other parts of the wall had a growth of black mold that could easily fall on the floor. This meant that as the molds and the pealed-off paints would be falling, they would fall on the foodstuffs which were scattered on the floor. The condition of the wall was worsened by the fact that at higher ends were cobwebs, a clear indication that the store was also housing various crawling insects. Parts of the floor were dumped, making it easy for the foodstuffs to be contaminated.
The shelves in the store were wooden. The wood was already worn out, and the splinters of the wood were dangerously protruding. The shelves were very dirty as it had gathered a lot of dust. It was also dumped, but the workers did seem oblivious of the dangers it posed as they placed potatoes on the shelves without containers. The shelves had doors that cannot easily be closed. Some of the potatoes were stored in large boxes. Next to boxes of potatoes were boxes of lemons. This is unhygienic given the health standards expected of a food store. It was also strange that the cabinets had a lot of items that were out of date. The way they were kept clearly indicated that while some of these outdated items were already in use, others were waiting for future use. This is a serious violation of the health standards set within the city. This is made worse by the fact that some of the outdated items became poisonous as their expiry date passed. This explained the reason why some of the customers complained of health complications after taking such food. Some of the outdated items in the stores included packets of prawn crackers, white rolls and soy sauce. The rear door of the store was open when the visit was made, but evidently lacking was a fly screen. The rear door was also open to rubbish that had accumulated on the bins that were hard enough to sustain the heap.
The inspection then moved to the kitchen. The condition in the kitchen was not any different from what was in the stores. The upright refrigerator has some perishable foodstuffs that needed a temperature of below 8 degrees centigrade. However, the temperature in the refrigerator was 9.4 degrees centigrade. This meant that the products in this refrigerator could easily perish. This could be attributed to the fact that individuals who should be responsible in this section never took their work seriously (Skjaker 2007, p. 43). For instance, the probe thermometer was not available when the visit was made. The inner parts of the fridges were very dirty, and so was the base of the fridges. In one of the fridges, a food container was staked with the outside of the container directly in touch with open food in another container. This is very unhygienic because the back of the first container was evidently dirty.
There was no clear stock rotation or coding system that stipulated how food should be moving into and out of the store. This resulted in massive confusion as there was prepared meat in the fridges where raw meat was kept. The proximity of the prepared food and the raw food left no doubt that microbe could easily move from the raw to prepared food. This eventuality would be possible, especially given the fact that the fridges were not under the right temperature. The green and brown chopping board needed urgent replacement, but it was clear, given their condition, that the management was reluctant about their replacement (Stevenson 1999, p. 112). The fryer chips had an accumulation of food debris, and the electric fly killer had fly carcasses on its bar. This was an indication that flies frequented this place. When the visit was made, the chef was not wearing a hat while preparing food, while a cook was wearing an outdoor cloth while handling food within this facility.
The Intervention Strategies Available to Resolve Food Hygiene Issues Identified
The above findings are enough to recommend an immediate closure of the food facility by the city council authorities. The management has failed to ensure that the premise meets the set code of conduct in regard to the hygiene standards that should be ensured. There should be an intervention strategy that can help reverse the current conditions (Wilson 2005, p. 49). The main aim of the council is to ensure that the public is protected from contaminated meals they buy from various food outlets. This particular facility has been found guilty of serving meals that are prepared under pathetic health conditions. The best decision that this council can make is to close the facility until the management can assure the authority that it has the capacity to follow the policies that were given to him when he was given the permit. The following are the intervention strategies that the management should take into consideration.
- The facility should be relocated to a place where there are no residential houses above it that may be in jeopardy of hygiene.
- The management should ensure that the walls of the facility are painted at regular intervals, most preferable after every six months.
- The floors of the facility should be cleaned on a daily basis and at no time should they be dumped.
- The management should ensure that all the walls are regularly cleaned, most preferable on a weekly basis to get rid of cobwebs and any crawling insect. Insecticides should be used if necessary.
- All the employees should have proper dressings, and they should have an understanding of how to make the stores and the kitchen hygienic.
- The concerned authorities within the facility should ensure that no outdated products are used or even left within the stores.
Intervention Rating in Accordance with the Food Law Code of Practice
The case of Sunshine Work Chinese Take Away was worrying. This food premise was completely becoming disastrous. When the complaints first reached the authorities within this facility, it was assumed that there was no alarm regarding the same. The inspection revealed a gross violation of health and hygiene standards that should be met. According to the findings of this inspection, the best decision that is appropriate is to shut down the facility till the management shows willingness and ability to follow the council’s rules and regulations. According to the Food Law Code of Practice, this facility was operating well below the basic code of conduct of firms within this industry (Stranks 2007, p. 86). The intervention strategies should therefore focus on making this firm meet the minimum basic requirements of the set code of practice. The ratings of the intervention strategies will therefore be considered as basic. It cannot be anything above the ratings of basics because the ultimate aim is to make this firm follow the set standards when operating.
The Overall Outcome of the Inspection in Terms of its Effectiveness as an Intervention Strategy
The inspection was very successful. It came when it was needed most. The premise was putting several lives at risk by offering them food in unhygienic facilities. The inspection was able to unearth several gross mistakes that this facility was committing. This inspection enabled the council to explain the reason why some of the customers of this facility complained of health complications after taking meals from this place. It was confirmed that the complaining customers were right by pointing fingers at this facility for their complications. The facility was putting the lives of several Britons at risk. The inspection brought this to a stop. It was clear to the management that the city council officers would not sit back and let unscrupulous businesspeople commit crimes that have the potential of harming several individuals.
The intervention strategies proposed by this firm are very effective. They cannot be ignored by this firm. This is because it starts by shutting down the facility. The management of the firm will have two options. The first option will be to shut down the business permanently let other firms which can obey the law operate. No serious investor will go for this option. The second option will be to follow all the recommendations as suggested by the authority (Warren 1997, p, 63). The firm will have no choice but to go for this compulsory option.
Hasler, C 2005, Regulation of Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals a Global Perspective, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken.
Manzella, D 2007, Development of an analytical tool to assess national Biosecurity legislation, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
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