Using colour-coded utensils and kitchen equipment is a critical way for commercial kitchens to stay on top of their food health, safety and hygiene.

It’s quick, easy and visual for everyone to know what equipment should be used for what foods and how they should be cleaned and stored.

While this might be a staple for commercial kitchens, it’s also a good practice for home or shared kitchens – it can be beneficial for homes with young budding chefs who like to get involved in cooking and meal prep.

This blog breaks down colour coding, how to use it, and why it works.

Why should commercial kitchens use colour coding?

From large industrial bakeries to fine dining, boutique cafes and even food vans, colour coding can form a vital part of a healthy and safe kitchen.

If you work or own one of these catering environments, you’re likely already using HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) to control and eliminate risks. Food Standards Enforcement Officers will look for a robust HACCP system when inspecting any catering environments – so how can you show quickly and clearly that you have a system that supports HACCP?

You guessed it, colour coding.

When everyone in the kitchen knows that the red tongs, chopping board and red-handled knife are all exclusively used for chicken and nothing else, Food Standards Enforcement Officers see a clear and direct way that you’re keeping food hygiene a clear priority.

Why use colour-coding in your kitchen at home?

Whether you work in a commercial kitchen or not, implementing this same strategy in your home environment can significantly help reduce any risks or issues associated with food contamination for you and your family.

It’s also a fun and easy way to start teaching young children about food hygiene and staying safe in the kitchen.

Plus, who doesn’t like a nice colourful kitchen to cook, bake and saute away in?

How should you use colour coding?

You could colour code however you like, but for ease, there is a general way to do this (and in a commercial kitchen, it helps new staff to know you’re following the same rules as other kitchens!).

Here’s what colours should be used for what:

White: Best used for bakery items and dairy products, but not eggs.

Yellow: Best for any cooked meats.

Green: Best for fruit and salad.

Brown: Best for preparing vegetables.

Red: Best for raw and uncooked meat items.

Blue: Best for raw fish.

Keeping a wall chart in a highly visible area that outlines what colours are used can ensure everyone is on the same page.

What items can you colour-code?

You’re probably already familiar with using colour-coded chopping boards, but there are lots of options when it comes to the different types of utensils and equipment you can colour code within your kitchen.

And the more items you add to this code, the clearer it is what should be used for what and the more control you’ll have over eliminating food contamination risks.

Other equipment you can easily colour code includes:

Food tongs: These are used widely within a kitchen for all kinds of things, so it makes sense to colour code these.

Knives: Again, you’ll use all kinds of different knives for different cooked and uncooked foods. Colouring these by the handle is a great idea to keep everything safe.

Brushes: – Essential for baking goods, especially when raw egg is often used.

Thermometers: These are used for all kinds of foods, including hot drinks, baked bread, and meat, so it’s a good idea to colour code these too.

Mixing whisks: In a kitchen where you might have different allergens, such as gluten, powdered nuts and raw egg, using colour-coded whisks for meal prep and baking can help eliminate risks.

This list is not exhaustive, and we bet there are many other things you can find to colour code in your kitchen once you start looking.

Finding colour-coded options is relatively easy, and you can usually find items in various budgets to suit your financial needs.

Have you tried colour-coding yet?

It’s a common practice, but not everyone does it – especially in small kitchens like food trucks or vans. This is where food safety and hygiene can easily slip if you’re not careful.

No one is immune to falling foul of the risks of not consistently maintaining sound systems to keep a healthy kitchen in place. Even NOMA, one of the world’s most highly rated restaurants, gave 67 guests food poisoning back in 2013 for failing to adhere to hygiene standards.

Colour coding your equipment is an easy, straightforward and fun visual way to keep everyone on the same hygiene page – and stay on top of your food safety where it matters most. To find out more about food hygiene, contact us today.