Best practice for your kitchen

Make sure your food prep is safe and compliant

Serving tasty meals is what makes your business successful. When people come to your tavern or restaurant, they don’t only come for nourishment, they come for pleasure and enjoyment. Eating a great meal is part of our culture and all our great occasions include food.

If food is so important to your business success, it is important that you do right by your food.

It is also costly and the last thing you want is wasted food you cannot serve. 

If food is so important to your business success, it is important that you do right by your food.

There are a few simple things you can do to ensure you are making the most of every bite. Use our handy checklist to assess your kitchen and identify areas where you could do better.

How to use the checklist

This checklist describes some of the best practices for your kitchen. Walk around your kitchen and look carefully at what you are doing. Be honest with yourself, even critical. This checklist is designed to help you identify potential problems and guide you in making improvements.

REQUIREMENT                                          Best practices                                                       My comments

Food storage and receiving 

My food is stored separately from any other non-food items like cleaning chemicals or pesticides.
My food is stored off the floor to make sure it cannot be contaminated.
My food is stored in specific areas to keep like with like.
I store raw food separate from cooked foods. If they are in my fridge, I store the raw food under the cooked foods.
I store open bags/boxes in plastic containers to ensure they are still sealed to prevent contamination.
I use suppliers that I trust to make sure I get the best quality and safe food.
I check my food when it arrives to make sure it is not damaged or off.

I check that frozen food is still frozen when it arrives.

I check that perishable foods that should be stored in the fridge arrive in an insulated truck.

I use different containers and cutting boards for raw and cooked foods to avoid contamination.
I store any takeaway packaging so that it does not collect dust.
I label my food with the date when it arrives so I know what I should use first.

Frozen foods are stored in my freezer.
My freezer is big enough for all the food I need without overloading it (ice build-up means it is too full).

Perishable foods are stored in my fridge.

Pest Control 

My kitchen is closed to make sure no flies or rats can get in.
I do not allow animals such as pets to be in the kitchen when I am cooking.
I clean and check the storage areas regularly to make sure there are no signs of infestation.
I make sure my dustbins are closed when I am cooking.
I keep my dustbins empty when not in use and clean.
I make sure refuse stored outside my kitchen is in a closed bin until collection so that it does not attract pests.


I always wash my hands before I handle food.
The toilet does not open into the kitchen.
There is a handwash basin with hot and cold running water in my kitchen.
I make sure my staff wash their hands before handling food or after handling waste.
I make sure my staff wash their hands between handling raw food and cooked food.
I make sure my staff don’t touch food with their bare hands.
I make sure if my staff have cuts or wounds, they cover them before handling food.
I have rules for my staff:

  • No jewellery.
  • No coughing, spitting, smoking while preparing food.
  • No licking of fingers or tasting and re-using spoons.
  • No false nails.
  • No false eyelashes.
  • Hair must be covered when cooking.

I have a uniform that covers all personal clothes which must be worn when working in the kitchen.
I train my staff in how to handle food in the safest way and I have a record of this.
I supervise my staff to make sure they follow the rules at all times.


I make sure my kitchen is clean at all times.
I make sure I only use cleaning products that I would use in my own home to make sure there is nothing poisonous. (Best practice would be to use chemicals and equipment specifically made for restaurants.)
I use separate cleaning tools for the kitchen and don’t allow equipment from the rest of the house/toilets into the kitchen. 

I make sure all my dishes are cleaned properly before using them.
I do not allow broken, chipped or cracked plates and cups to be used.
I store all clean dishes upside down so that they do not collect dust.
Food handling

When I thaw food, I do this in running cold water and not hot water or in the sun. The best practice is at the bottom of my fridge overnight in a container that will not drip.
When I display food it is covered and kept either warm or cold depending on the food type. This is very important if I cater for functions and I use ice beds or bain-maries for this.

I do not let food stand longer than two hours.
When we are preparing food we keep activities separated as far as possible: Raw preparation, plating/cooked food handling areas, vegetable preparation, and so on, to avoid cross-contamination risks.
I make sure that cooked hot foods are cooled as soon as possible in a fridge in flat dishes and not left on the stove.
I do not wash chicken or meat other than tripe before cooking.
I make sure my cooking oil is checked and when the colour is dark, I discard this.

I make sure my cooked foods are fully cooked before serving them. The best practice is to test the temperature to make sure 75 degrees Celsius is reached.
I make sure that when we handle perishable foods we work as quickly as possible to minimise the time out of the fridge.

I take my customers' comments and complaints very seriously and try to resolve them.

All these points are from the regulations for handling food, called R638 (regulations governing general hygiene requirements) and are a requirement from the Department of Health. The regulations apply to all food businesses and places that serve food, such as school feeding schemes, hospitals and restaurants. Food factories and retail stores also need to comply.

The requirements on your checklist are what the environmental health official would check when they issued you with a certificate of acceptability for your establishment. By completing the checklist and making improvements a priority, you can show you are committed to food safety and making sure your customers have a tasty and safe meal – and that they keep coming back for more.

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