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Meeting food hygiene regulation in fish and chip shops
British people consume around 382 million portions of fish and chips every year. This averages to around six servings per person annually. Four in five of us eat fish and chips at least once every year with spending reaching an incredible £1.2bn! This staggering figure comes from the 10,500 fish and chip shops in the UK (which is far more outlets than both McDonald’s and KFC at 1,230 and 850, respectively).
With so many fish and chip shops in the UK and with the food they produce being such a popular choice for Brits, fish and chip shops must get it right when it comes to food safety and food hygiene. Fish and chip shops handle food that is most often taken away and eaten immediately but sometimes they are combined with seating and are more like fish and chip cafés or restaurants.
All fish and chip shops are inspected regularly by Local Authority Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) for the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. If a fish and chip shop’s food hygiene practices are not up to scratch, its rating will reflect it. This rating must be displayed within the store (usually in the window or on the door of the shop) and a poor score will likely cause customers to look elsewhere. And, with thousands of fish and chip shops in the UK, they likely won’t have to look far.
This Food Safety Guide for Fish and Chip Shops will provide guidance and advice on how to achieve the highest food safety and hygiene standards in a fish and chip shop as well as highlight why such practices are important when running a successful shop.
Food safety and hygiene legislation to follow for fish and chip shops
All food businesses in the UK, including fish and chip shops, must follow the food safety and hygiene legislation to ensure that their customers are safe when eating their fish and chips. There are several enforceable laws in the UK to protect fish and chip consumers.
- The Food Safety Act 1990 – This Act provides a framework for all food and drink establishments to follow. The Act ensures that fish and chip shops and other businesses do not put anything in food, remove anything from food, or treat food in ways that would mean it could be damaging to the health of those eating it. It also ensures that fish and chip shops serve or sell food that is of the substance, nature and quality that customers should expect and that food is labelled, presented and advertised in a way that is not misleading or false.
- The Food Standards Act 1999 – This Act establishes the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as the body that oversees food safety laws and legislation in the UK. Its main goal is to protect public health when it comes to food and gives the FSA the power to act in the consumers’ best interests during all stages of food production, processing and supply.
- The Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations:
– The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013
– The Food Hygiene Regulations (Scotland) 2006
– The Food Hygiene Regulations (Wales) 2006
– The Food Hygiene Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006
- The Food Information Regulations 2014
– These regulations stipulate that businesses must provide allergen information if a food contains any of the 14 listed allergens.
– These were amended by the Food Information (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2019 to include Natasha’s Law.
- Section 111 of The Water Industry Act 1991
– This Act directs how oil such as that from fish and chip fryers should be disposed of.
Aside from this legislation, there are certain licences that fish and chip shop owners may also need to have. If the fish and chip shop buys fish directly from a fisherman (this is called ‘first sale’ fish) they will need to have a fish buyers’ licence.
Natasha’s Law became official legislation in October 2021. This law is a legacy left in the wake of the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, a young woman who died after suffering from an allergic reaction to a baguette she bought from Pret a Manger at Heathrow Airport.
Before Natasha’s Law was enforced, food establishments like fish and chip shops did not need to label any foods that were pre-packaged on the premises ready for sale. Such foods are commonly referred to as PPDS. Most often, this type of food is not served in fish and chip shops as they tend to serve food that’s cooked fresh for the customer. However, it is still important legislation that fish and chip shops must be aware of, especially if they package up some of their foods for sale.
The labelling on these foods would need to include:
- The name of the food item.
- What ingredients it contains.
- Any of the 14 allergens required by law listed and emphasised on the packaging.
What happens if the legislation is not followed?
If a fish and chip shop is lax in following food safety and hygiene legislation, not only can it cause illness and harm to its customers, but the owners of the fish and chip shop can also be prosecuted.
An example of this is the case where fish and chip shop owners in Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire, were prosecuted for their dirty and unsafe premises in October 2018. The couple who co-owned Mariondale Fisheries in the town were fined £600 for four offences: selling unsafe food, poor food safety management, poor upkeep of the shop and poor cleanliness. It was given a food hygiene rating of zero. The Environmental Health Officer found that the shop did not keep the place at a good standard of cleanliness and that stock control and discarding of spoiled food did not happen. Aside from the fine, they were also both ordered to pay legal costs totalling £746 and a victim surcharge of £60.
Unfortunately, this is not the only fish and chip shop that has faced prosecution. Another owner of a fish and chip shop in Kirkby called Poole’s Plaice was prosecuted in May 2021 after mouse droppings were found. There was a lack of food safety management system in place, food was stored at the wrong temperature and there was also food there that was past its use-by date. The mouse droppings were found on the shelves, on containers with cutlery inside, next to food items, above work surfaces and even on napkins.
Staff training on food hygiene for fish and chip shops
Staff training on food hygiene in fish and chip shops is a legal requirement. All fish and chip shops must ensure that those preparing the fish and chips and serving them to customers are trained and supervised in their food hygiene practices. Having said that, it does not mean that all casual fish and chip shop workers must have an individual food hygiene certificate, but having such certification is a good way of showing that the fish and chip shop takes the health and safety of its customers seriously. It also shows due diligence if the Environmental Health Officers come to check.
Fish and chip shop workers should be trained on food safety that is appropriate for their role in the shop and their tasks as well as their level of overall responsibility.
Training on food hygiene and safety should include:
- Personal hygiene – This should cover topics such as handwashing, covering cuts or wounds and wearing appropriate clean clothing.
- Food storage – This includes understanding temperature control and how to properly store different types of food to prevent contamination.
- Cleaning – This includes how to clean equipment, utensils and work surfaces properly.
- Food preparation – This includes how to properly prepare and handle food including raw fish and potatoes.
- Allergen awareness – This includes understanding and identifying common allergens, particularly ones that may be more likely to be present in fish and chips as well as how to prevent cross-contact. This includes gluten, shellfish and fish as well as other allergens like nuts and milk.
- Waste disposal – This includes how to dispose of food waste properly as well as other materials to prevent contamination.
- Food safety management – This includes understanding the importance of a food safety management system (FSMS), such as a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system, and how to implement it.
There are different levels of food hygiene certification:
- Level 1 – Level 1 is an introduction to food hygiene practices. This training is typically for those who handle low-risk foods such as foods that are already in packaging in a fish and chip shop such as extras like bottles and cans of drinks or fish and chips that someone else has wrapped. This level of certification is useful for those working on tills or taking customers’ orders.
- Level 2 – Level 2 is a basic food hygiene certificate. This is a good choice of certification for staff who prepare and handle fish and chips. Most fish and chip shop workers will need Level 2 certification, particularly those who work with the fryers or who package up fish and chips.
- Level 3 – Level 3 is classed as an intermediate food hygiene certificate. This is for those who have significant responsibilities within the fish and chip shop such as the owner, manager and supervisors as well as those involved in food safety management and HACCP systems.
It is important that all fish and chip shop staff receive regular training in these areas and that the training is updated regularly to ensure that they have the most up-to-date information on food safety best practices.
Food hazards in fish and chip shops
Food hazards are not something that we want in a fish and chip shop. They are primarily what results in a fish and chip shop being closed down by Environmental Health Officers. However, when preparing and handling food in a fish and chip shop, you need to have an enhanced awareness of different food hazards.
The Food Standards Agency describes a food hazard as something that can make food unfit or unsafe to eat. There are four different types of food hazards: biological, chemical, physical and allergenic.
Biological food hazards are microorganisms or other living organisms. Some microorganisms can cause disease or illness in humans if they are consumed through contaminated food, including fish and chips. The most common biological hazards in food include bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi.
- Bacteria – Certain bacteria, such as salmonella, campylobacter and Escherichia coli (E. coli), can cause food poisoning when they are present in contaminated food. Bacteria can be present on raw fish and potatoes as well as on surfaces and utensils that come into contact with food. Some of the most common bacteria found in fish and chip shops include E. coli, salmonella and listeria.
- Viruses – Viruses such as norovirus and hepatitis A can be spread through contaminated food and cause gastrointestinal illness. In a fish and chip shop environment, the most likely viral hazard is norovirus, which can lead to nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
- Parasites – Parasites such as cryptosporidium and Toxoplasma gondii can be found in contaminated food and cause illness in humans. There are some parasites that can be present in some types of fish. This includes anisakis, a type of roundworm that can be found in raw or undercooked fish. It can cause abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Other parasites include tapeworms which are also found in raw or undercooked fish, especially cod, haddock and plaice, which are often served in fish and chip shops. Tapeworms can cause diarrhoea, abdominal pain and weight loss.
- Fungi – Some types of fungi can produce toxins that contaminate food and cause illness such as Aspergillus flavus which produces the toxin aflatoxin. Fungi are not commonly found in fish and chip shops as they do not grow well in cold temperatures used to store and prepare fish and potatoes. However, if proper food safety procedures are not followed, fungi can grow on food that is not stored or cooked properly.
Chemical food hazards refer to harmful substances that can contaminate food and cause illness or disease when consumed. Chemical food hazard substances can occur naturally in the environment or be added to food either purposefully or accidentally.
Some chemical food hazards include:
- Pesticides – Pesticides are chemicals used in farming to control pests and diseases in crops. If used improperly or in excess, they can contaminate food and cause health problems. Pesticide chemicals are not commonly found in a fish and chip shop environment.
- Heavy metals – Heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury can contaminate food through soil and water pollution, or from the use of contaminated packaging or equipment. In fish and chip shops, heavy metals can come from sources such as contaminated water and the materials used in cooking and in packaging foods. However, fish itself can accumulate heavy metals like mercury from the water they live in. Fish should always be sourced from reputable suppliers who adhere to strict environmental regulations and test their products for heavy metal contamination. The fish should also be cleaned and prepared properly before cooking to remove any potential sources of heavy metals.
- Food additives – Certain food additives, such as artificial sweeteners, colours, preservatives and flavourings, can cause adverse reactions in some people, particularly if they are used in excess of what is considered safe. A fish and chip shop typically comes with plentiful salt and vinegar to enhance the flavour of the food. Another common additive is monosodium glutamate (MSG) which is used in fried foods to improve their taste. Additionally, stabilisers and thickeners are often added to sauces and dressings to improve their texture and consistency.
- Contaminants from packaging – Chemicals from packaging materials such as plasticisers and bisphenol A (BPA) can migrate into foods and cause health problems. However, in fish and chip shops, the most common packaging items are paper, cardboard, plastic and aluminium foil.
- Acrylamide – Acrylamide is a chemical that forms naturally in some foods such as potatoes and bread during high-temperature cooking methods like frying, roasting or baking, and has been linked to cancer. Chips are a food that is particularly high in acrylamide. It has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It has been linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer including kidney, bladder and stomach cancer.
To reduce the risk of acrylamide formation in fish and chips, it is important to follow the proper cooking methods, such as:
– Soaking potatoes in water before frying them. Soaking potatoes for at least 30 minutes before frying can help reduce acrylamide formation.
– Not overcooking foods. Overcooking foods can lead to higher levels of acrylamide formation.
– Using cooking oils with high smoke points. Using oils with high smoke points such as canola or peanut oil can help reduce acrylamide formation.
– Monitoring cooking temperatures. Checking cooking temperatures and avoiding excessive heating can help reduce acrylamide formation.
Physical food hazards refer to foreign objects or materials that may contaminate food during the production process either accidentally or intentionally. These hazards can cause harm to customers such as choking, cuts, and causing damage to teeth.
Physical hazards include:
- Bone fragments – In a fish and chip shop, fish bones are a common physical hazard. These bones can accidentally make their way into the food during filleting or preparation.
- Glass or metal fragments – These can make their way into food during the production process such as if a glass jar or metal equipment is broken.
- Stones or dirt – These hazards can occur if food is not properly washed before preparing it or it is not properly sorted. Vegetables and salads are common places where these hazards occur. In a fish and chip shop, dirty potatoes may pose a physical hazard when preparing the chips if they are not prepared carefully and safely.
- Plastic or rubber materials – These hazards can be introduced during food packaging or equipment used during processing or handling.
- Jewellery, hair or nails – If employees do not follow good food safety practices including good self-hygiene, hairnets, properly fitting clothing and removing jewellery before preparing food, these items can find themselves in the food being prepared.
Allergenic hazards in food are those which can cause an allergic reaction in people with food allergies.
Allergens are typically proteins that are found in certain foods, and when someone with an allergy consumes them, their immune system reacts by releasing histamines and other chemicals that can cause mild to severe symptoms, including anaphylaxis which can ultimately lead to death. Fish and chip shops can pose allergenic hazards to customers, particularly those with serious allergies or food intolerances.
Some of the most common allergenic hazards in food include:
- Peanuts and tree nuts.
- Milk and dairy products.
- Wheat and gluten
Many of these allergens are commonly found in fish and chip shops, particularly fish, shellfish, wheat (as it’s used in batter), soy (another common ingredient in the batter as well as in dressings), and dairy products such as milk and cheese that may be present in sauces or toppings for chips.
Fish and chip shops must follow the 4Cs of food hygiene to best prevent and avoid food hazards.
The 4Cs are:
According to the Food Standards Agency, a lack of proper cleaning is one of the most common reasons why a food business like a fish and chip shop is prosecuted. Cleaning is a crucial aspect of maintaining food safety in a fish and chip shop. Proper cleaning helps to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, removes physical contaminants and reduces the risk of allergens and cross-contamination.
In a fish and chip shop, some important aspects of cleanliness must be considered:
- Equipment cleaning: Fryers, grills and other cooking equipment should be thoroughly cleaned after each use to remove any food debris and oil build-up. This also helps to prevent flavour transfer and cross-contamination.
- Surface cleaning: All surfaces in the food preparation area, including counters, cutting boards and utensils, should be cleaned regularly with a food-safe disinfectant.
- Floor cleaning: Floors should be swept, mopped and disinfected regularly to remove any spills or debris that can harbour bacteria.
- Dishwashing: Dishes, utensils and other food-contact surfaces should be washed in a dishwasher or with hot, soapy water to remove any food residue and kill bacteria.
- Cleaning schedule: A cleaning schedule should be established and followed to ensure that all areas of the fish and chip shop are cleaned regularly and thoroughly.
- Hand hygiene: Staff should wash their hands regularly and properly, especially before handling food or equipment.
Many fish and chip shops use a ‘clean as you go’ cleaning system whereby the staff clean up continually as they work before doing one final clean at the end of the day.
Proper cooking is critical for ensuring the safety and quality of food in fish and chip shops.
There are several things that fish and chip shop workers should consider when cooking:
1. Temperature control: It is important to maintain proper temperature control throughout the cooking process to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. This includes ensuring that raw fish is stored at the proper temperature and that cooked fish is kept hot before serving.
2. Cook fish to the right temperature: Fish should be cooked to a temperature of at least 63°C for a minimum of two minutes to ensure that any harmful bacteria are destroyed.
3. Use clean equipment: All equipment used for cooking, including fryers and utensils, should be cleaned and sanitised before use to prevent contamination.
4. Use clean oil: Clean oil should be used for frying fish and should be regularly replaced to prevent rancidity and off-flavours.
5. Cook batches in small quantities: To ensure that fish is cooked evenly and to prevent overcooking or undercooking, fish should be cooked in small rather than large batches.
6. Use a thermometer: A food thermometer should be used to check the internal temperature of fish to ensure that it is cooked to the appropriate temperature.
By following these guidelines, fish and chip shops can help ensure that their food is cooked properly and is safe for consumption.
Cross-contamination is a significant food safety concern in fish and chip shops, and it is important to take steps to avoid it. Nearly all foodborne illnesses are caused by cross-contamination when harmful pathogens or allergens are transferred into food from surfaces, utensils or from person to person. When talking about allergens, cross-contamination is referred to as “cross-contact”.
Aside from pathogens and allergens, cross-contamination can occur with chemicals such as those used in cleaning, especially ones that are sprayed into the air where they can settle on food.
Fish and chip shops should ensure that they take steps to avoid cross-contamination.
- Using separate equipment for raw fish and cooked fish to prevent cross-contamination. This includes cutting boards, fryers and utensils.
- Washing hands regularly: All staff should wash their hands properly regularly, especially before handling food, to prevent the transfer of bacteria and viruses.
- Storing food properly: Raw fish should be stored separately from cooked fish to prevent cross-contamination. Additionally, all food should be stored in sealed containers or packaging to prevent contamination.
- Cleaning equipment: All equipment including fryers, utensils and cutting boards should be cleaned and sanitised regularly to prevent bacterial growth.
- Using separate packaging: Separate packaging should be used for raw and cooked fish to prevent cross-contamination.
- Labelling allergens: Allergenic ingredients should be clearly labelled on all packaging and stored separately.
- Training staff: All staff should be trained on proper food handling procedures and cross-contamination prevention techniques.
Proper chilling is an important step in preventing food hazards in fish and chip shops:
1. All food that needs to be chilled should be stored in a refrigerator as soon as possible after preparation.
2. Appropriate containers should be used with tight-fitting lids to prevent contamination.
3. The fridges must be kept at 5°C or lower.
4. Freezers must be kept at -18°C or lower.
5. Any raw fish should be stored in the correct containers below any cooked ingredients in the fridge.
6. Frozen foods should be defrosted in a fridge overnight before being used.
7. Staff must follow the instructions for chilling on any packaging or raw ingredients.
8. The fish and chip shop staff should ensure that the fridges and freezers are regularly emptied and cleaned. Any spoiled or out-of-date food should be removed and disposed of appropriately.
Personal hygiene in fish and chip shops
Practising personal hygiene is important in all aspects of our lives. However, when you are dealing with other people’s food and other people’s health, maintaining excellent personal hygiene is even more crucial. Fish and chip shop workers often use their hands to prepare, handle and package food ready for customers, so excellent handwashing is a must. Aside from this, personal hygiene rules also include what we do with regard to our hair, fingernails, illness and personal habits such as smoking and chewing gum.
Every worker in a fish and chip shop should have some training on the following aspects of personal hygiene:
- Direction on proper handwashing techniques before handling any foods or ingredients as well as washing hands after handling raw foods, allergens or money.
- Long hair should be tied back and covered with a hairnet. The same goes for beards.
- Nails should be trimmed short and should be natural without any nail polish.
- Jewellery and watches should not be worn.
- Workers should not wear strongly scented toiletries as the scent may contaminate foods.
- Clean and practical clothing should be worn. This may include an apron, gloves, a hat and sensible, non-slip footwear.
- Chewing gum and smoking should not be permitted.
If a staff member from the fish and chip shop is ill, they should report their illness as soon as possible to their supervisor. Those with sickness and diarrhoea should not be permitted back to work until 48 hours have passed since their last episode. For cuts, sores and burns, these must be covered with an appropriate brightly coloured dressing even if they are not infected.
Food allergens in fish and chip shops
For people with serious allergies, takeaway food such as that from a fish and chip shop is too much of a risk. However, this is very much down to individual circumstances regarding allergens and the severity of the allergy.
Fish and chip shops do commonly handle a number of allergens, including:
- Fish: This is an obvious allergen found in fish and chips shops. If you’re allergic to fish, you will probably find yourself avoiding any kind of fish establishment.
- Crustaceans/Molluscs (Shellfish): Some fish and chip shops do sell shellfish as well as regular fish, particularly prawns and scampi. Shellfish is a known allergen in many people.
- Wheat: Fish and chip shops use wheat flour to coat the fish before frying. Wheat is one of the 14 allergens that must be listed on packaging and menus by law. Aside from allergies, many people are intolerant to wheat or suffer from coeliac disease.
- Milk/Dairy: Some fish and chip shops may use dairy products in their recipes, particularly where the batter is concerned. This means that milk or butter may be found in the products. For those with a severe dairy allergy, fish and chip shops that use dairy products should be avoided. Many people also have lactose intolerance and avoid dairy for this reason too.
- Soy: Soy is sometimes used in batter or as an ingredient in tartar sauce – a sauce commonly served with fish.
- Egg: Some batter recipes may contain eggs.
Aside from the foods listed above, there are others that must be declared by law.
- Other gluten-containing cereals such as rye, barley and oats.
- Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashew nuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, pistachios and Brazil nuts.
- Sesame seeds.
- Sulphur dioxide and sulphites in certain concentrations.
Fish and chip shops must clearly label their products and disclose any allergens present in their food. Customers with allergies should also make the staff aware of their allergies before any food is prepared so that appropriate measures can be taken to avoid cross-contact. Fish and chip shops should also have measures and protocols in place to avoid cross-contamination between allergenic and non-allergenic foods.
Unlike pathogens like viruses and bacteria, it’s impossible to cook allergens out of foods. Therefore, it’s always wise to proceed with caution if a customer declares an allergy and inform them whether the premises handles their allergen.
Safely storing food in a fish and chip shop
Proper food storage in fish and chips shops is crucial to maintaining food safety. There must be strict systems in place for storing food, including:
- Keeping raw and cooked food separate. Raw fish and other ingredients should always be stored separately from cooked food to avoid cross-contamination.
- Food should be stored in appropriate containers that are airtight and clean and are the right kind for the food that is being stored. Cooked food should be stored in covered containers.
- Label and date all food. This is important so that expiration dates are known and so that people know what food is being stored in any particular container.
- Food should be stored at the correct temperature to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Wet fish should be handled immediately on delivery and the contents of the box should be separated and re-iced. It should then be put into a specific fish fridge otherwise it will not remain fresh. The wet fish must be kept moist and should be stored at around 1-2°C. Wet fish should only be kept for two days before it is used, so fish and chip shops must have good, regular suppliers.
- Frozen fish should be delivered at a temperature of at least -15°C. Once it has defrosted, it should never be refrozen.
- Potatoes should be stored on pallets somewhere dry in temperatures between 7°C and 10°C. If the area is damp, the potatoes will sprout and may go mouldy. They should not be stored near walls and there should be no more than six bags in height. The area should also be kept dark as well as cool. Potatoes don’t come with use-by dates on their packaging, so it’s important to write the date they were delivered on the packaging when it arrives so that you know how long it has been stored. The older potatoes should be stored on the top so that they are used first.
- If plain flour or pre-mixed batter is being used, these bags must be stored somewhere dry. The bags should never be stored anywhere damp. Loose flour can be stored in tubs or bins that have tight-fitting lids. If a batter has been mixed, it should be kept cool and preferably stored in the fridge. The batter should never be allowed to reach a tepid temperature. You should only make enough batter for what you need as you should not store batter overnight. If the batter is kept overnight and used the following day, the batter’s colour goes darker and also loses its crispness more quickly.
- Any batter scraps can be stored in a metal-lidded container outside of the building before they are disposed of. This is because, surprisingly to many, batter scraps can spontaneously combust!
- Cooked chips should be stored in the chip box, which normally has infrared heaters inside. Sometimes these units also have thermostat controls. The chips should be rotated regularly in the box. Fresh chips should be placed at the back and standing chips brought to the front.
Hot holding is commonplace in fish and chip shops. The hot holding equipment must keep the fish and chips (or any other items) at the right temperature to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria:
- Food should be kept hot using appropriate equipment such as warming cabinets.
- The temperature of hot holding equipment should be checked regularly, to ensure that it is maintaining the correct temperature.
- Food should be prepared and served as quickly as possible after cooking to prevent it from cooling and potentially becoming unsafe.
- Food should be cooked in small batches so that there is not too much food being kept in the hot holding equipment for too long a time.
- If food is to be reheated, it should be done so quickly and at the appropriate temperature to prevent bacterial growth.
- Food safety charts should be used to check the time that the food has been in the hot holding equipment to ensure that it is used within a safe time frame.
Safely serving food in a fish and chip shop
Most fish and chip shops serve food that is taken away from the premises either wrapped to take home or elsewhere or unwrapped to be eaten immediately outside. Some fish and chip shops do have seating areas to eat but are not considered cafés as there is no table service or facilities. Other fish and chip shops operate like cafés or restaurants. Some fish and chip shops operate as a combination of the two.
In the past, fish and chips were traditionally wrapped in old newspapers. Today, this does not happen. However, to maintain the tradition, paper for wrapping can be bought that looks like newspaper! Today, most fish and chip shops serve their food in plain paper wrapping, cardboard boxes or sometimes polystyrene. Many businesses choose paper or cardboard rather than plastic or polystyrene for sustainability and recycling reasons. Fish and chip shop workers must practise good personal hygiene (as described above) when serving food in fish and chip shops.
Waste management in a fish and chip shop
Fish and chip shops often produce large quantities of waste including packaging waste, oil and fat waste, and food waste. Each type of waste must be handled and disposed of correctly.
Once the frying oil has been used to its maximum, it needs to be disposed of responsibly and legally. The consequences of disposing of oil incorrectly can not only result in drain blockages and damage to the environment, but they can also result in legal action:
- Oil should not be poured down a sink or drain. This may be obvious but the prevalence of fatbergs in the sewers and drains suggests otherwise.
- Oil should be wiped from utensils before they are washed and the kitchen towel should be disposed of in the correct bin. This prevents oil from entering the water.
- Waste oil should be kept securely in an airtight container with a screw tap to prevent it from leaking and to prevent odours. The containers should also be stored safely so they are not likely to get knocked over.
- Staff should be trained in oil disposal to ensure everyone complies with Section 111 of the Water Industry Act 1991.
- Waste oil should be collected by a specialist collection service. The Environment Agency can provide a list of authorised oil collectors.
- Batter scraps can be a huge fire risk if they are not disposed of correctly. They are one of the biggest causes of fires in fish and chip shops. This is because they retain heat and if they are packed tightly together in a bin, the temperature can continue to rise. If it gets hot enough, the batter scraps can spontaneously combust. According to KFE Leaders in Frying Excellence, the oil content of the scraps literally adds fuel to the fire. What’s more, plastic bins that are not fireproof means that fires can spread easily. You should ensure that scraps are doused in cold water before being disposed of and they should also be disposed of in metal, fireproof containers.
Pest control in a fish and chip shop
No one wants their fish and chips to be below par or contaminated by pests. Reading about the pest infestation in the fish and chip shop mentioned above is enough to make you never want to set foot in that fish and chip shop again (thankfully, it’s under new ownership and has a much-improved food hygiene rating now).
Common pests in fish and chip shops include:
- Rodents – including rats and mice.
- Insects such as cockroaches, flies and ants. Flies in particular are attracted to the strong odours produced in fish and chip shops. Cockroaches seem to be attracted to the warm, moist environment of a fish shop as well as grease and food residues.
- Stored product pests such as flour weevils which may get into batter mixes or ingredients.
- Birds – pigeons, house sparrows or other birds nesting on the premises can be problematic. Seagulls can also be troublesome outside of a fish and chip shop, particularly as many of them are by the seaside in the UK.
Preventing pest infestations in a fish and chip shop is essential not only to comply with the law but for the health and safety of the customers and staff. Fish and chip shops should prevent and control pests by:
- Keeping the fish and chip shop clean and tidy. This includes cleaning the floors, walls and counters. Food spills should be cleaned promptly.
- Disposing of waste correctly, particularly food waste as this is what attracts pests the most. Bins should be tightly sealed.
- Storing food correctly in tightly sealed containers. Containers should not be on the floor to prevent pests from entering them. When a food delivery arrives, the contents should be inspected carefully to make sure no pests are being introduced to the fish and chip shop.
- Sealing any pest entry points such as cracks and gaps around windows, pipes, doors and floor. This will help to prevent pests from entering the fish and chip shop.
- Using products if pests are suspected to catch and/or eliminate them.
- Hiring professionals in to clear any pest infestations so that the job is done properly.
- Training the staff who work in the fish and chip shop to promote the importance of good practices and how to prevent pests.
By following such tips, the fish and chip shop can remain as safe and hygienic as possible.