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CHEF INSPECTOR.

Top telly chef Nick Nairn is famous for his mouth-watering cuisine - but he also prides himself on keeping his restaurant kitchen one of the safest and most hygienic in Glasgow.

While most amateur chefs can only hope to emulate his culinary skills, every cook should look to him as a role model when it comes to food safety.

Scots chef Nick knows all about keeping a clean kitchen.

Since opening his own restaurant in Glasgow six months ago he's committed to making Nairns Glasgow's number one eaterie.

And for him that's not just about providing the best gourmet food.

He said: "Since the new health hazard anaylsis came into force, restauraters are having to become a lot more diligent and responsible for their customers' welfare.

"It's a move I've certainly welcomed. Every single member of my staff has been on food hygiene courses, because training is critical."

"Since implementing the changes I have really noticed a difference, particularly when it comes to cleanliness.

"I'm not saying we're infallable but we're trying our best to be accountable and minimise the chances of something happening.

"I want Nairns to be a high-operational, safe restaurant which is an example to others."

Which is what everybody should aspire to - because your kitchen could be the ultimate death trap.

Every year thousands suffer from food poisoning after eating or drinking contaminated food.

Many attacks are slight enough to go unreported, but it is estimated that one person in 50 is affected every year.

Last year, a record one million Britons were struck down by food contamination - and 200 of them died.

The very young, elderly and infirm are those most at risk.

The 1996 E-coli outbreak in Lanarkshire and Central Scotland, in which 20 people died, was one of the biggest health scares to hit Britain in recent years.

It forced the Government to revamp its health and food safety procedures.

A powerful Foods Standard Agency, expected next year, will take charge of every stage of food production, from farm to fork. The independent agency aims to set hygiene standards and policy food quality.

It will have powers to stop contaminated material entering the food chain and to monitor food additives.

But health and food safety in the kitchen begins with the individual.

Liz Corbett, Head of Commercial Operations for Glasgow's Environmental Services, said:"Nowadays, people tend to live extrememly busy lives and don't bother implementing the basic health and safety procedures in their kitchens.

"All too often they just don't think about the dangers."

Harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, listeria, campylobacter and some strains of E- coli can cause serious bouts of food poisoning.

These and other germs can spread quickly, especially at warm temperatures.

In the right conditions, one bacterium can multiply into ONE MILLION bacteria in just over three hours.

So what should you be doing to make your kitchen a killer-free zone? Here's Nick and Liz's guide:

DEFINE FOOD HYGIENE

This includes all practices involved in protecting food from risk of contamination. The best way to achieve this is by:

Cooking food thoroughly, as this is the only sure way to guarantee bacteria will be killed.

Maintaining the highest standards of personal hygiene at all times.

Not handling crockery or cutlery that comes into contact with food.

Not using unsuitable, defective or dirty equipment.

WHAT CAUSES FOOD POISONING?

Bacterial food poisoning is by far the most common. The best temperature for the growth of it is 37 degrees C, although they can grow quite quickly between 20 degrees C and 50 degrees C.

To prevent this, experts believe the fridge should be kept below 5 degrees C.

Within one to 36 hours of eating contaminated food, you will experience symptoms which will include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea.

SOURCES OF FOOD POISONING BACTERIA

EVERYBODY commonly harbours food poisoning bacteria in the nose, mouth, intestine and also on the skin.

Food may be contaminated directly by the hands, by sneezing and coughing, or indirectly, by sewage contaminated water.

Raw food is particularly hazardous, especially red meat - and poultry is also a meat to be wary of because up to 80 per cent of frozen birds may carry salmonella bacteria.

HOW TO PREVENT FOOD POSIONING

There are three main ways of breaking the food poisoning chain - protect food from contamination, prevent bacteria from multiplying and destroy any existing bacteria.

Simply by getting into a basic safety routine will make all the difference.

Most of it, according to Nick and Liz, is common sense.

It's important to keep food covered wherever possible. Not only that, but separate raw and cooked food at ALL stages of preparation, storage and distribution.

Never use the same equipment and working surface while handling raw and high-risk foods, and wash any kitchen utensils after use.

10 dangers to look out for

1 Food stored at room temperature too far in advance of use.

2 Cooling food too slowly prior to refrigeration.

3 Not reheating food at high enough temperatures to destroy dangerous bacteria.

4 The use of cooked food which has already been contaminated with food poisoning bacteria.

5 Undercooking.

6 Inefficient thawing.

7 Cross-contamination from raw food to cooked food.

8 Storing hot food below 63 degrees C.

9 Infected food handlers.

10 Use of leftovers.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Weale, Natasha
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 8, 1998
Words:879
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