What is Food Safety?

When it comes to food safety in a business context, there are many factors to consider. What’s key is that you treat food safety as part of your day-to-day business and manage it proportionately to the level of risk at your work. On this page you’ll find learning resources that are useful to learners of all skill levels.

Food safety refers to reducing the risk of causing illness by improperly handling, preparing, or storing food. By following basic food safety principles, you can reduce this risk and prevent individuals from becoming ill and sick from food-borne diseases.

Several fundamental principles of food safety and hygiene are cleaning, cross-contamination, chilling, and cooking. As a food business, it is important to adhere to such principles to ensure a safe and hygienic environment.

The five key principles of food safety are:

  1. Contamination
  2. Separation
  3. Cooking
  4. Storage
  5. Safe water and raw materials

The five key principles of food safety


There are four types of food contamination:

Cross-contamination: It is essential to prevent cross-contamination when cooking and preparing food.  Raw poultry, for instance, can cause campylobacter and salmonella food poisoning. Those bacteria could cross-contaminate ready-to-eat foods, causing food poisoning.

Biological contamination: Another type of contamination is contamination caused by another living organism, such as a bug. As a result, bacteria can grow on the food, making it unfit for human consumption.

Physical contamination: Physical items can cause food to become ill, such as hair, glass, jewellery, or any other object with its own bacteria. You should avoid such contamination at all costs. Simple steps such as taking off jewelry before handling food, tying your hair back, and washing your hands thoroughly are all that is needed.

Chemical contamination: Illness and food poisoning are caused by this type of contamination. Contamination is usually caused by pesticides that are still present in fruits and vegetables. In addition to kitchen cleaning products, pest control products or food containers made of unsafe plastic may cause chemical contamination.


Separating foods is one method of avoiding contamination. In order to control the spread of juices, raw meat could be packaged in leak proof packaging.


Cooking is a fundamental principle of food hygiene. It seems very obvious, but it’s more about how you cook, rather than remembering to cook that raw chicken. It is important to ensure you cook chicken and other food items with bacteria risks, thoroughly. Once you’ve cooked the meat thoroughly, never return back to the same chopping board or plate that the original raw meat was on.


Food storage is crucial. Once cooked, many foods must be stored in a dry area, out of direct sunlight, or in a fridge with a specific temperature.

It’s important to note how long we can store and consume these foods until they become unsafe to eat when storing them in their right environments.

The location of storage is another aspect to consider. In order to avoid cross-contamination, meat or any other food items that might leak could be kept at the bottom shelf.

Safe water and raw materials

It is important to use safe water and raw materials when preparing your food.

If you are in a country where the tap water is not filtered with any chemicals to ensure it is healthy, then it is best to only use filters or bottled water.

With raw materials, such as fruit and vegetables, it is best to wash these first before preparing them and cooking. Unwashed fruits and vegetables could contain Listeria, a bacteria which can cause food poisoning and other harmful diseases.

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