Food Safety & Procedures to Reduce Risk of Contamination
At The Full Pantry, we uphold safe and hygienic standards as a high priority for all our customers, particularly those with allergies.
Below is a summary of the procedures that are in place to reduce the risk of contamination between allergenic foods. Please note that as a bulk food store, we cannot guarantee 100% elimination of risk.
For general practice where customers self-serve in-store, the following procedures are implemented:
Above each category of products, we place designated scoops on a rack.
Our Wheat and Gluten Free section is an area where we regulate point 1 tightly.
Scoops are cleaned daily and re-positioned above these specific categories.
In the case of a customer needing to be particularly cautious about cross-contamination (e.g. Coeliac disease, peanut allergy, sesame seed allergy etc), we ask they notify us of their requirement. We then provide them with a fresh scoop that has not been exposed to the shop environment since having been washed the night before.
In addition, given stock availability, we offer for these customers to obtain the product directly from the bag/box that was received from the supplier, rather than from the container that has been exposed to the shop environment.
Both points 4 & 5 are dependent on the customer making us aware of their requirements, just as a customer dining at a café must make the waiter aware of their dietary requirement.
For orders that are made online, our procedures do not change much from the above explanation, and we still adhere to the following points:
Staff members package items using the scoop designated for that cabinet/category.
This is particularly reinforced in the wheat and gluten free area. In certain circumstances, where the order is clearly for someone requiring GLUTEN FREE products, our staff will wash their hands before packaging that order.
Scoops are cleaned daily (at a minimum); in some cases at various points throughout the day.
In the case of a customer who has an allergy and places an order online, we ask that they make this allergy known to us via the comments section at checkout (e.g. “PLEASE NOTE: PEANUT ALLERGY”). We will then take the extra precautions (as per point 4 above): staff will use a new scoop and, pending stock availability, take the product from the box/bag instead of the usual container. If our stock levels do not enable us this option, we will contact the customer and discuss various options as to how to proceed). Again, in this case, our staff are required to wash their hands before (and sometimes during) the packaging of this order.
While we have thought significantly about, and experimented with, alternative procedures, our current method of practice is the safest against cross-contamination.
Reasons why we do not implement some suggested procedures:
‘Scoops designated to a single product and stored in that specific container’: Unfortunately, this method still relies on the customer to adhere to this principle. This theory has been tested and, with respect to our customers, does not show to be foolproof.
‘Scoops are chained to the side of the container to prevent them from being taken to another one’: Although this sounds good in theory, the reality is that these scoops would not be cleaned as often as they currently are. So even though the scoops would stay in their designated area, the issue of hygiene would be of concern.
In conclusion, we have many customers who have grown accustomed to these processes, and who are very happy to continue shopping with us. We strongly encourage those who have concerns to chat to us in order to feel as comfortable as possible to shop at The Full Pantry. All in all however, we do acknowledge that the nature of our shop cannot completely eliminate the risk of contamination. Therefore, we understand if customers need to shop elsewhere, where packaged products provide the greatest certainty of being allergy free.