Food Safety checklist - – the ultimate food hygiene guide

Following a food safety checklist is the best way to ensure that you ace your EHO inspection whenever it comes around. When your food hygiene score is quite literally on the door, getting top marks is crucial for your business. Find out how you can set your kitchen up for success.
Gemma Thomas
Feb 2024
4 min read

This food safety checklist guide is the perfect starting point to make sure your business is compliant. You’ll be getting that five-star hygiene rating in no time.

Food hygiene rating

If you want to dive straight into creating your food safety checklist, explore Trail’s digital templates. We’re the #1 hospitality checklist app, and our platform is designed to keep all of your critical task lists and processes in one place. Try it free today.

Why do you need a food safety checklist?

A food safety checklist is a powerful tool used to reinforce good hygiene practices and to help you comply with food quality standards.

Performing regular food safety inspections can prevent accidents, protect you from legal action, and of course, prepare you for EHO inspections.

Digitising your checklist with an app like Trail adds more advantages. As well as reinforcing your processes, a digital checklist helps you maintain secure records over time and can be kept in one place alongside other checklists, reports and digital forms. You’ll be able to have complete confidence in your business’s commitment to food safety over a long period of time.

What should it cover?

Environmental Health Officers measure the following:

  1. How hygienically food is handled
  2. The condition of your premises
  3. How you manage and document food safety

With that in mind, your food safety checklist needs to cover:

We’ve turned all of these checks into digital templates that you can start using today. Check out our list of food safety checklists here and start creating processes that work for your business, or dive straight into a full food safety management template with a free trial.

4 Steps to better food safety

1. Keep clean 🧼

  • Wash hands before and after handling food, and don’t forget to wash hands after going to the toilet (we’re all seasoned experts in hand-washing now, so no excuses.)
  • Disinfect chopping boards, utensils, and surfaces thoroughly, especially if they’ve been in contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.
  • Make sure your kitchen and food are free from pests and insects.

Our templates can also help you carry out sink checks and dishwasher checks.

2. Cook thoroughly 🍳

  • Food must be cooked at 70°C for food to be safe.
  • Take thermometer readings to ensure you’re compliant.
  • Take extra care when cooking meat, seafood, eggs and poultry.
  • Reheat cooked food thoroughly.

Use our cooking & holding temperature checklist.

3. Separate food 🥩

  • Use different chopping boards when handling raw foods.
  • Use individual plates and utensils for cooked and uncooked foods.
  • Ensure that allergens are separated and handled carefully.

Use our allergen control checklist.

4. Store food at safe temperatures 🌡️

  • Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours.
  • Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer with an appliance thermometer (the refrigerator should be at 4°C or below and the freezer at -18°C or below).
  • Thaw food in the fridge, not at room temperature.

Use our fridge & freezer temperature checklist.

Is a food quality checklist different from safety?

When it comes to food hygiene, you might see ‘food safety’ and ‘food quality’ used interchangeably. If your priority today is to ace your future EHO inspections, then our information about food safety checklists is exactly what you need.

However, other definitions of food quality include ‘all properties and attributes of a food item that are acceptable to a customer.’ If you are looking for a food quality checklist that helps you to maintain the presentation and flavour of your dishes, you might find our wider range of templates helpful. Take a look at Trail’s cooking temperature checks, allergen separation and delivery checks templates for more inspiration, or create your own checklist in the app to cover the elements of food quality that are most important to your business.

Why it’s essential to use a food safety checklist

Even though there are regulations in place to prevent incidents, food contamination causes 420,000 deaths globally every year.

Carrying out regular food hygiene inspections can help you identify food safety risks, so you can take action and prevent any serious health problems. This not only protects your team and customers, but it also protects your business from any lawsuits (and headaches).

Environmental health officers can inspect your business without warning, so the only reliable way to prepare is to ensure that best practices are followed consistently every day. Our comprehensive guide to EHO inspections includes more information on how to prepare, including insights from a former EHO.

Incorporating food safety checks into your day-to-day operations can also encourage staff to form good working habits. Using a digital checklist system like Trail prompts the right person to complete their tasks at the right time, so compliance becomes second nature for staff.

Food safety risks to avoid

The following factors cause food contamination, potentially causing food poisoning or putting you at risk of poor EHO inspection results:

Poor hygiene – if food handlers have bad personal hygiene, don’t wash their hands, or wear inappropriate clothing, they can contaminate the food.

Unsanitised facilities and equipment – unclean chopping boards, utensils, or surfaces can infect food.

Poor food handling – using low-quality food, storing food inappropriately or using the wrong cooking methods, can all impact food safety.

Bad food safety management and documentation – if businesses don’t have a robust food safety management system in place, they are more likely to make errors and have food-related incidents.

If the worst happens and you suspect that there has been a case of food poisoning in your establishment, you need to record all of the details so that it can be properly handled. Use Trail’s food poisoning report template to help you digitise a standard process to follow in these scenarios.

How Trail can help you stay on top of food safety

Trail takes the guesswork (and the paperwork) out of your food safety. Our digital checklists help you manage risk, save time, and drive a culture of safety. So you can rest easy knowing teams are fit for work and food is being stored, handled and prepared correctly.

Streamline food safety practices – Checklists are woven into your team’s working day alongside other tasks. Everyone knows what to do and when to do it. Food safety becomes a habit.

All-in-one app – No more trawling through binders. No more time wasted on repetitive paper checklists. Just simple bite-sized tasks, all in one place.

Avoid incidents – Trail alerts your teams to take corrective action as soon as a problem is detected. Plus you can record evidence that the problem has been fixed, protecting your business against lawsuits.

Performance visibility – Get insights on your productivity, compliance and more. Dashboards and daily reports highlight issues, so they can be resolved quickly without the need for time-consuming and expensive audits.

Discover more ways Trail can help you level up your compliance, or start your free trial with Trail today.

What customers are saying

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