How to slice a loaf, legally

Just a quick bit of background before I had over to my father. For his entire working life he’s been involved in Environmental Health, from the beginnings of his career as a Sanitary Inspector, all the way up to being second in charge of Aberdeen’s Environmental Health department – everything from noise to water pollution, from food hygiene to dog wardens. Even after his retirement he was involved in food hygiene consultancy and pest control.

One day he sent me this little write up of how, according to official guidelines and laws, you are supposed to slice a loaf of bread, including all the pre-requisites that you should have in place.


It’s quite an eye opener, and while most of it is common sense and right, some of it is just way over the top. However, it’s the proper way you have to cut bread, according to the Government.

While you have a read, I’m off to take a slice of pre-sliced frozen bread out of the freezer and throw it in the toaster. Over to my Dad.

Based on the requirements of the Food Safety Act, the Health & Safety at Work Act, the Private Water Supplies Regulations and the Disposal of Hazardous Waste Regulations

  1. Obtain the following supplies:
    1. Plastic face shield
    2. PVC apron
    3. PVC gloves
    4. Pack of sterile disposable gloves
    5. White hat and coat
    6. Chopping board of such a size that it can accommodate the loaf in question allowing for the greatest horizontal dimension plus the vertical dimension with allowance for error. It must not be grooved
    7. Bread knife
    8. Sterilising solution
    9. Plastic basin large enough to take the chopping board
    10. Clean uncracked plate
    11. Loaf of bread – check the “sell by” date to ensure that the loaf is not out of date
    12. First aid kit
    13. Emergency eye wash kit
  2. Ascertain if the water supply to your work room is from the public mains or not
  3. If it is from the mains, go to step 9 below
  4. If it is not from the mains, contact your local Environmental Health Department and ask for a sample to be taken of the water. This should take about 3 weeks and should cost over £100
  5. If the result is satisfactory, go to step 9 below
  6. If the result is unsatisfactory, consult the Yellow Pages for a water treatment firm who will install the necessary treatment plant
  7. Instruct a firm to carry out the necessary work This should cost about £400 – £500
  8. Return to step 4 to ensure that the treatment plant is correctly purifying the water
  9. Ensure that there is no infestation of vermin in the workroom by asking a Pest Control Firm to install insect indicator traps and rodent bait points. This should cost about £150
  10. Also ask them to install an electronic flying insect killer in the room. This may cost about£100
  11. If after about a week, there is no evidence of infestation, proceed to step 14 below
  12. If either of these steps shows evidence of infestation, seek quotations for the removal of the infestation and the proofing of the room against further infestations.
  13. Instruct a firm to carry out the necessary proofing work. This may cost as much as £300 and may take another week
  14. Remove children, animals and other adults from the work room
  15. Switch on the electronic flying insect killer
  16. Put on the plastic face shield, PVC apron and PVC gloves
  17. Take the bread knife
  18. Check that the handle is intact, and that the blade is sharp
  19. If they are both satisfactory go to step 20 below
  20. If they are not satisfactory, return to step 1(g) above
  21. Check that you have a current Health & Safety Certificate certifying that you have been trained in the safe use of dangerous equipment and hazardous chemicals.
  22. If you have such a Certificate, go to step 24 below
  23. If you do not have such a Certificate, contact your local Environmental Health Department, and ask about a course. This should take about a month and should cost about £100
  24. Take the chopping board and check if the surface is grooved.
  25. If it is not grooved, then proceed to step 30
  26. If it is grooved, dispose of the board and return to step 1(f) above
  27. Take the plate and check that it is not cracked
  28. If it is not cracked, then proceed to step 30
  29. If it is cracked, dispose of the board and return to step 1(j) above
  30. Put on the face shield, gloves and apron
  31. Have copious supplies of water handy in case of spillage of sterilising solution
  32. Study instructions on exterior of bottle of sterilising solution
  33. Dilute sterilising solution as per instructions
  34. Place sufficient quantity of sterilising solution in bowl to allow for complete immersing of chopping board, knife and plate
  35. Carefully and slowly immerse the chopping board, knife and plate in the sterilising solution, and allow them to remain there for the period given in the instructions on the bottle
  36. Take off your gloves, as the previous pair were in contact with an unsterilised chopping board and knife
  37. Place the used gloves in a sealed bag, and lay them aside for step 70
  38. Wash your hands in warm to hot running water, using a liquid bacteriological soap
  39. Dry your hand with disposable paper towels
  40. Place the used paper towels in a sealed bag, and lay them aside for step 70
  41. Put on an unused pair of sterile disposable gloves
  42. After the appropriate period of time, slowly and carefully remove the chopping board, knife and plate from the sterilising solution, and rinse them under a running cold water supply for 2 minutes
  43. Allow the board, knife and plate to drip free of water
  44. Remove your protective clothing (face shield, apron and pvc gloves)
  45. Take off your gloves, as the previous pair were in contact with unsterilised protective clothing
  46. Place the used gloves in a sealed bag, and lay them aside for step 70
  47. Wash your hands in warm to hot running water, using a liquid bacteriological soap
  48. Dry your hand with disposable paper towels
  49. Place the used paper towels in a sealed bag, and lay them aside for step 70
  50. Put on an unused pair of sterile disposable gloves
  51. Put on a newly-laundered white coat and hat
  52. Take the loaf and check the “sell by” date
  53. If it is within the “sell by” period, proceed to 55 below
  54. If it is outwith the “sell by” period, discard the loaf and return to 1(k) above
  55. Remove the loaf from its wrapper, and check for any evidence of surface mould
  56. If there is no evidence of mould growth, proceed to 58 below
  57. If there is evidence of mould growth, discard the loaf and return to 1(k) above
  58. Place the loaf on the chopping board with the smallest dimension as the horizontal axis across the right hand end or the left hand end of the loaf
  59. Decide on the thickness of the slice you want
  60. Decide whether you are left-handed or right-handed, as the next step will depend on this decision
  61. Take the bread knife and with the handle in your left or right hand (as appropriate) apply it to the surface of the loaf across the uppermost horizontal surface, with the blade pointing away from you, the sharpened edges downwards, at a distance from the relevant end of the loaf equivalent to the thickness of slice you have chosen
  62. Hold the body of the loaf with your free hand, ensuring that this hand is well away from the cutting operation
  63. Applying light pressure, move the knife backwards and forwards across the loaf.
  64. You will find that the knife slowly sinks through the body of the loaf
  65. When the knife reaches the bottom of the loaf, the slice which you have created will detach
  66. Check the slice for embedded foreign objects or mould growth
  67. Place the detached slice on the clean plate
  68. If you need additional slices, return to step 58 above
  69. Remove the gloves. Place in a sealed bag
  70. Dispose of the sterilising solution, the used protective clothing the used gloves and the used wipes by looking in the Yellow Pages for a Licensed Hazardous Waste Disposal Firm and engaging their services. This should cost in excess of £300
  71. Return to the bowl you used for sterilising the equipment
  72. Obtain a bacteriological washing-up liquid
  73. Create a solution of hot water in the bowl with the appropriate amount of washing-up liquid
  74. Carefully wash all the equipment in this solution
  75. Remove the equipment and allow it to drip-dry
  76. After drip-drying, place the equipment in a clean cupboard for further use

Thanks Dad, and now you can toast the bread. Oh dear lord, that’s going to have another procedure entirely, and what about the other slice, the margarine or butter, the filling? I’m bankrupt already and the sandwich shop is shutting down.

1 comment on “How to slice a loaf, legally”

  1. Patrick Reply

    Richard, you make it sound as if you don’t believe this regimen is completely necessary. I always follow such procedures! Obviously.

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