What are the 4Cs of food safety?

What are the 4Cs of food safety?

What are the 4Cs of food safety?

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Whether you have been in the food industry for years or just getting started with your culinary career, food safety is vitally important. A simple way to understand and remember the fundamentally important aspects of food safety is to use the 4Cs.

What are the 4cs of food safety?

You can use the 4Cs to prevent the most common food safety problems, they are:

  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Chilling
  • Cross-contamination

Let’s go through each one.


Getting the right cleaning regime in place is really important, ironically you can create significant problems as far as food safety is concerned by cleaning incorrectly. Let’s look at cleaning in more detail:

  • Always wash your hands before handling food and wash them between handling different food types like eggs, meat or vegetables.
  • Clean as you go! Don’t let dirt build up, so when you have finished a task clean the utensils that you have used and the surface that you have worked on. Use detergents and disinfectants properly. Detergents do not typically kill bacteria unless they are antibacterial detergents. Ensuring that you use the right detergent/disinfectants is key. Bleach shouldn’t be used on food preparation surfaces (or ideally in a kitchen) because of the chlorine compounds that it can breakdown into. Much better to use a sterilisation fluid like Milton. Sanitisers, such as the industries standard, Suma-bac D10, are a combination product, combining the grease dispersal properties of a detergent and the microbe reducing properties of a disinfectant. Whichever you choose to use, ensure that dilution rates and contact times are strictly are adhered to.
  • Colour coded cleaning equipment will make life a lot easier and avoids spreading germs from one place to another. You shouldn’t be using the same equipment to clean toilets as you would to clean your kitchen work surfaces. You may also find that your workplace has introduced purple chopping boards and knives. These are known as “allergen free” equipment and are to be used to ensure no cross-contamination of food destined for those with food allergies and intolerances.
  • Set up a proper cleaning schedule to ensure that everywhere is cleaned regularly according to how often it is used and how dirty it is likely to get. The schedule should contain the following times:
    • Before starting work
    • During the working day
    • At the end of the day
    • Weekly
    • Monthly
What are the 4Cs of food safety - image of lady serving food


All food needs to be properly cooked to ensure that bacteria is killed and to avoid food poisoning.

  • For poultry, duck, pork, rolled joints, products made from minced meat and offal, ensure that the food is thoroughly cooked through and not pink. Best practice is that the centre of the meat needs to be heated to 70°C for at least 2 minutes, or 75°C for 30 seconds. Juices should run clear.
  • When keeping cooked food hot it should be kept at 63°C or above to ensure it remains safe. If this is not possible then it should be thrown away after a maximum of 2 hours.

When reheating food, which should really only be done once, it is important to ensure that the food is piping hot throughout. The best practice rule around reaching 70°C for 2 mins applies equally here. Make sure to serve reheated food immediately.


Chilling food is a way of keeping it fresh for longer, but again this needs to be done carefully and correctly.

  • Never put hot food directly into a fridge or freezer, allow it to cool properly first, but do not allow the cooling to go on for longer than 2 hours before chilling. Where possible divide the food into smaller portions, place into a dish which can be placed into cold water to speed up the cooling process.
  • Ensure your fridge is kept at below 5°C at all times and keep doors closed as much as possible to prevent warming the internals. In practice fridges should be kept at 2-3°C.
  • When removing chilled food from a fridge do not allow it to be out of the fridge for more than 4 hours. If it is, then it will need to be thrown away.
  • Make sure to check the temperature regularly to ensure that the fridge is always cold enough.
  • When freezing, make sure that frozen food is placed directly into the freezer and does not partially thaw out.
  • Freshly prepared food should be frozen as soon as it has cooled.
  • Always freeze food at least the day before it reaches its use by date, making sure to label the package with the date on which it was frozen.


Cross-contamination is where bacteria from one food type is transferred to another by direct or indirect contact. This should be avoided at all costs.

  • Use colour coded utensils and boards for different foods like raw meat, vegetable, cooked meats and fish as mentioned above. Ideally completely separate the food preparation and storage areas.
  • Wash your hands after handling any food type and before handling other foods.
  • Never store raw meat or fish above other foods like vegetables or cooked meats and keep them all well separated in storage. Ideally, use separate fridges or containers.
  • Clean thoroughly and often (see above for cleaning).

By following the basic 4Cs of food hygiene, you will dramatically reduce the potential for the food you are preparing to contain harmful bacteria which can cause serious food poisoning. The 4Cs along with the HACCP methodology will help you determine your risk areas and control them effectively.

Food Safety Training

At Chris Garland training we offer a range of Food Safety Courses from a Level 1 Food Hygiene Essentials and a Level 2 Award in Food Safety, to a Level 3 Award in Supervising Food Safety. Our training course can be carried out face to face or online. If you have a specific training requirement or would like ton discuss the best course for you and your team please complete our simple contact form available here, email us on [email protected] or call 07702 343 248. We look forward to hearing from you.

The information in this article is for information purposes and should not be relied upon in place of Food Safety Training.

Chris Garland. Founder and lead instructor at Chris Garland Training.
Chris Garland. Founder and lead instructor at Chris Garland Training.
What are the 4Cs of food safety?

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