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Airlocks are ventilated hallways or corridors separating toilets or laundries from food preparation areas. Usually fitted with self-closing doors, they are intended to physically separate these areas to prevent accidental contamination of food.


An allergen is a substance that is present in some foods which can cause illness, or in serious cases even death, when it is in contact with the skin or when it is eaten by people who are allergic to that substance.


Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction and is potentially life threatening. It must be treated as a medical emergency 


Bacteria are a type of microorganism that can be found in soil, on animals, on people and on the things people touch and use. If food becomes contaminated by bacteria it can cause food poisoning if eaten. Consumption of food contaminated by bacteria is the most common cause of food poisoning.


A bain-marie is a piece of equipment used to keep food at temperature over a period of time. Most often, a bain-marie is used to keep hot food at 60 °C or higher, but can also be used to melt ingredients for cooking.


The process you undertake to make sure your thermometer is reading correctly is known as calibration. To calibrate a thermometer only takes a few minutes and is essential for good business practices. It is important that the thermometer be calibrated because if it is off by even a degree or two, it could affect the safety of food. Make sure you know how to calibrate your thermometer.

chemical hazard

A chemical hazard in food is when the food has been contaminated by chemicals that are not safe to consume, such as cleaning chemicals, or by naturally occurring toxins, for example the chemical that causes potatoes to go green.


Cleaning involves removing grease, food, dust, stains, smells and taste from food preparation surfaces and equipment

cold storage

Cold storage must keep all food stored inside below 5 ºC. While not being transported, prepared, cooked or served, all high-risk foods must be kept in cold storage.


Detergent is similar to soap and is used for washing food preparation surfaces and equipment to remove grease, dirt and grime from surfaces. It only removes some surface bacteria and does not kill bacteria.


A disinfectant is a chemical used to kill microorganisms on surfaces such as toilets and bathroom floors. They are not food-safe chemicals and should not be used in place of sanitisers.

dry storage

Dry storage is for low risk foods that do not require to be kept below 5 ºC to keep them safe or fresh. This is foods such as flour, cereals, canned foods and sugar. Although dry storage is for low risk foods, these foods must still be appropriately sealed and labelled

first in-first out

Good stock rotation is essential in a food business. Products that have been in storage longer will have the shortest shelf life and should be used before newer products. For example, milk with a use-by date of 14/11 should be used before milk with a use-by date of 20/11.

food contamination

Food contamination occurs when something is found in food that shouldn’t be there. It can be harmful.

food handler

A food handler is anyone who is involved in any activity that involves food.

food intolerance

Food intolerance is a reaction that some people have after eating or drinking some foods.

food poisoning

Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating contaminated food. The most common cause of food poisoning is eating food contaminated by harmful bacteria. Common symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever. Food poisoning can be very serious and can even cause death.

food safety

Food safety is ensuring that food is safe to eat.

food spoilage

Food spoilage is a disagreeable change in food. The food will show obvious signs of deterioration with changes in colour and texture, an unpleasant smell and taste. The food is unfit for human consumption. Food spoilage is a natural process for perishable food, which may occur more quickly if the food has been damaged and not stored properly.


Gastroenteritis is an inflammation or infection of the stomach and intestines generally caused by consumption of harmful microorganisms. It is often referred to as a tummy bug.


Gluten is a protein that is found in certain types of grains, such as wheat, barley, oats and rye. It is therefore also found in food products that are made with these products, such as pasta or bread made using wheat flour. People that suffer from coeliac disease can have an adverse reaction if they eat food containing gluten.


A microorganism is a very small living organism that can only be seen under a microscope and includes bacteria, viruses and some fungi.

personal hygiene

Good personal hygiene means making sure that you, your clothing and accessories are clean. Personal hygiene is very important as it helps to prevent food contamination from hands, clothes, jewellery, nails and other personal items. Washing hands regularly and thoroughly is a vital element of personal hygiene. Good personal hygiene also means not working around food when you are sick.


Pests are unwanted creatures in food premises. Pests must be kept out of food preparation areas as they can spread germs and damage stored food and equipment. Common pests in food preparation areas include mice, flies, ants and cockroaches. Keeping food preparation areas clean helps to prevent pests.

physical hazard

A physical hazard is an inedible object found in food that shouldn’t be there and that could cause physical harm if the food is eaten. Examples of physical hazards include plastic, glass and bandages.

prepared food

Prepared food is food that has had some preparation, such as chopping, mixing or cooking, in order to use it at a later time. For example, chopped vegetables that are stored for later use in a soup are prepared food

raw food

Raw food is food that has not been cooked. Often raw food refers to food that is unsafe to be served raw and that can only be eaten once it has been cooked, such as raw meat and chicken. In this case, raw food should not be handled in a way that will cause the contamination of cooked and ready-to-eat food.

ready-to-eat foods

Ready-to-eat foods’ are foods that are eaten in the same state that they are sold; that is, without further food preparation, such as heating to kill any harmful bacteria.


A food recall is where an authority, such as the Department of Health and Human Services, decides that food is unsafe for sale and that it needs to be recalled from throughout the food supply chain. If the food business you work for is ever involved in a food recall it is important that instructions for the removal of food from sale be followed carefully.


To sanitise means to destroy microorganisms, reducing the number of bacteria on a surface to a safe level. This is usually achieved by the use of both heat and water or by specific sanitising chemicals in the cleaning process. Sanitising is done after cleaning.


A sanitiser is a cleaning chemical and/or hot water that is used to kill bacteria on food preparation surfaces and equipment, or reduce them to a safe level. Sanitisers used for food preparation surfaces and equipment must be food safe.


Self service refers to situations when customers serve their own food from a central area, such as a buffet-style arrangement.

temperature danger zone

The food temperature range between 5 °C and 60 °C  is called the temperature danger zone because food poisoning bacteria can grow rapidly in those temperatures.


A thermometer is an instrument used to measure the temperature of something, that is how hot or cold it is.

When measuring the temperature of food a probe thermometer, calibrated to within at least 1 ºC, should be used to ensure measurements are accurate


A toxin is a poisonous substance produced by living organisms such as bacteria. If food is contaminated with bacteria, the toxins can make food unsafe to eat and cause illness.

undeclared allergen

It is the responsibility of a food supplier e.g. importers, manufacturers, retailers and service providers to declare allergens on a food label, display information about allergens next to food on sale if the food is not packaged, and to provide information about allergens in food if requested by a customer. An undeclared allergen means that  this information is not declared on the label or by the food handler. If this occurs a person with an allergy to the undeclared substance can suffer harm if the food is eaten.


Food is said to be unsafe when it causes physical harm after consumption. However food is not considered unsafe if its inherent nature causes adverse reactions only in persons with allergies or sensitivities that are not common to the majority of persons.


unsuitable food is food that is damaged, deteriorated or perished to an extent that affects its reasonable intended use

vulnerable people

Vulnerable people are young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with illnesses such as cancer. They are vulnerable because they are at higher risk of developing severe symptoms and complications if they become unwell with a foodborne illness.

waterproof bandage

A waterproof brightly coloured bandage should be used on cuts and wounds that are on a part of the body that could come into contact with food or food preparation surfaces or equipment.  

This will ensure that the cut or wound is covered and if the bandage accidently falls into food, it will be much easier to see than a skin-coloured or transparent bandage.

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