News and Views
CIEH Guidelines for Outdoor and Mobile Catering
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has given some guidelines on hygiene with particular reference to hand washing facilities.
Where only low risk open foods such as biscuits, sweets, olives etc. are for sale and utensils are used for handling the food, or where the food is fully wrapped, it may be hard to justify the provision of a wash-hand basin. The enforcement officer will have to judge each case individually but antiseptic wipes and/or disposable gloves may be acceptable alternatives. At food outlets where high risk foods are handled, alcohol based hand gel/sanitiser must only be used as a supplement to a fully equipped wash hand basin.
The food business operator should not be allowed to operate unless he or she can demonstrate wash hand facilities are readily and safely available.
Where open high-risk food is handled there must be good washhand facilities. These must include a basin or sink with a supply of hot and cold water. Ideally this should be a purpose built unit connected to a water supply and drainage facilities. Thermos flasks of hot water are NOT acceptable as they do not hold enough water. The supply for hand washing must be separate from that used for making beverages for sale.
Where the source of the hot water supply is an urn the enforcement officer must be satisfied there is a safe and quick method for transferring the boiling water to the wash-hand sink and a means of mixing it with cold water in a basin with a plug.
Small compact self-contained hand wash units that run off a vehicle’s electrical system are available. Bowls that fold or clip away make it easy to use for the food business operator. These may be available to hire.
In all cases, fully equipped wash-hand facilities must be provided near the toilets.
Larger stalls with several preparation areas and busy serveries will require multiple hand basins. In wet weather cash and coins can become heavily contaminated with mud and serving staff will require access to hand washing facilities.
Consideration needs to be given to either suitable disposable cloths for hand drying or the use of washable clean cloths if disposable hand towels are not suitable on environmental (recycling) grounds.
“Good hand washing is a critical control in all forms of food handling. This is the main conclusion of the NHS Evidence Based Guidelines on the Management of Infected food handlers. It is accepted by all food safety/hygiene professionals. In general the risk of contamination at outdoor events is greater than in fixed premises. Use of gloves or hand sanitisers does not achieve reduction of cross contamination risks to the same level as good hand washing. (I believe PHE, Public Health England, have provided Guidelines on effective hand washing)”
Jenny Morris, Principal Policy Officer, at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH)