One thing you should know about me is I love food. I love thinking about new recipes, preparing fresh dishes and most of all I love eating both my own creations and what other, far more talented people, can deliver with those beautiful ingredients!
What we consider ‘food’ is constantly evolving. The creativity and level of innovation in cooking is amazing. You only need to look at famous chefs like Heston Blumenthal, combining science with cooking to create weird, wacky and exciting dishes.
Crucially, the fundamental question should always remain: Is this food safe?
It can be difficult for regulatory bodies, such as the Food Standards Agency, to produce guidance quickly enough to keep up with innovation and consumer trends. Add into the mix, copycat companies or people at home attempting to replicate the dishes without the same level of skill and control, and disaster is often not too far away.
HACCP must be applied to determine if this new process or piece of technology for food preparation results in safe food. It is vitally important that any new method or technique is properly analysed and considered before implementation. For example, a number of restaurants I audit already use liquid nitrogen to instantly freeze foods and put on dramatic, show-stopping theatre for their customers. It certainly impresses me.
As a food safety expert, my role is not to discourage creativity for fear of ‘safety issues’ but to properly consider, highlight and implement systems to appropriately manage identifiable risks. Liquid nitrogen-cooled foods may look fantastically impressive but at temperatures of -195°C, it needs to be handled and served carefully to avoid injury to both chefs and customers! As ever, a sensible and practical balance must be sought.
Some of the key questions I may consider in various scenarios are:
- What’s the level of contamination in the raw product?
- How can the level of contamination be reduced so the food becomes safe for the customer?
- Could this process potentially increase the level of contamination in the product?
- How can we prevent this?
Our philosophy @Leisure_safe is to welcome and positively encourage creation and innovation. Our role is to provide the necessary support and guidance to help convert those exciting new ideas into a workable reality!
And I am waiting for the day a restaurant gets a 3D food printer– imagine a loved one’s chocolate face for dessert!