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Teknisen turvallisuuden toiminta ulottuu noutoruokaan

Technical safety consulting also extends to takeaway food: the safety of a takeaway meal is completed with appropriate packaging materials and proper handling

Naturally, the safety of restaurant food includes a good level of hygiene in both the raw materials and the kitchen. But what should be taken into account in food contact materials, such as the packaging into which the food ends up? What about the gloves or equipment used in handling the food? Sweco’s food safety specialists also provide support with the safety of packaging materials.

‘Takeaway meals from restaurants have become very popular now that we mostly work from home. For the consumer, it is important that the meal remains warm until it gets home and it is neatly packaged. From the point of view of food safety, however, one of the most important aspects is the material used for packaging and how the meal is processed,’ says Heidi Määttä, food safety specialist at Sweco. 

Määttä is familiar with food legislation, and her job includes consulting with food producers, production facilities, restaurants and food processors. 

‘According to the regulations on contact materials, packaging materials must be food-grade and suitable for the food in question. The selection and careful storage of contact materials helps to keep the food free from any off-odours or off-flavours, harmful amounts of substances transferred from the material or even foreign objects that could subject the consumer to a choking hazard or damage to the mouth or teeth, for example,’ Määttä continues.  

In general, the safety and good hygiene of restaurant food is guaranteed by high-quality raw materials, good cleaning of the kitchen and equipment, cleanliness and good order, hygienic working methods and temperature control during preparation and transport. Operators in the food industry must also ensure that the consumer is informed about the ingredients and any allergens and intolerance-causing substances they contain. 

Safe packaging material can be identified by the labels

The labelling of food contact materials may include, for example, the wine glass and fork symbol to indicate suitability for food contact. Additionally or alternatively, the suitability is stated verbally in the name of the product or elsewhere on the label. The manufacturer of the materials must draw up a declaration of conformity for the material, and the seller or importer must pass on the information provided by the manufacturer of the contact material to the food industry operator.   

‘The labels on storage containers, disposable plates, cutlery and cups should also be checked to see what kind of foods they can be used with. For example, fatty or acidic foods and alcoholic substances require special attention. In adverse conditions, they may dissolve components of the packaging material into the food. The labelling must also take into account the correct usage temperature and whether the boxes or bags are suitable for heating or freezing food, for example,’ Heidi Määttä points out.  

‘The packaging materials must be stored in a protected, dry and clean place, and their cross-contamination with, for example, allergens must be prevented. Only the required number of them should be taken out at a time.’ 

The same principles apply to disposable gloves used in food handling. They must be of suitable material, clean and durable and protect the food from microbiological and chemical contamination.  

‘It is advisable to check the suitability of the gloves for the intended use by reading the instructions and, if necessary, to ask the seller for more information if there are any concerns. Gloves used for handling fatty foods, in particular, should be chosen carefully, as not all gloves are suitable for this purpose, due to the phthalates used in them, for example. The gloves should be changed sufficiently often, and good hand hygiene should be taken care of when using them,’ Määttä says.