Is your foodservice establishment following safe food handling practices? Whether you’re a restaurant or school cafeteria, food safety should always be a top priority. Over time (especially during peak meal times), employees may become lackadaisical to food safety. Be sure to remind them how important it is and use these tips to ensure your establishment is safe for your customers.
Under-cooking food runs the risk of making your customers ill in a variety of ways from food poisoning to E.Coli. Use a thermometer to ensure foods are cooked thoroughly and maintain a safe temperature if left out. Food Safe Schools put together this PDF which gives a reference on control time and temperature.
2. Avoid cross contamination.
From our Cross Contamination Prevention Guide, did you know cross contamination is the sixth largest contributing factor to food borne illness? Avoid cross contamination and make it easier for restaurant workers by using a color coded system. There is a commonly used color scheme used for cutting boards, knives and gloves. Read more in our Cross Contamination Prevention Guide.
3. Wash hands and change gloves frequently.
There are times when it’s okay to be conservative to save money, but when it comes to food safety, it’s never okay to put anyone at risk for the sake of saving a few dollars. Employees must wash hands and change gloves frequently, especially between tasks and upon exiting/entering the kitchen. To put the importance into perspective, review Foodbeast’s “Handwashing Awareness & Helpful Tips” infographic.
4. Stick by the two hour rule.
If food has been sitting out at room temperature for two or more hours, get rid of it.
5. Accommodate guests with food allergies.
Food allergies are serious and create a variety of reactions from discomfort to anaphylactic shock. Note on menus or menu cards if items contain or are around certain foods. Also, post signage and put in menus a request for customers with allergies to inform the wait staff. In return, employees must understand the seriousness of food allergies and convey the information to the kitchen. Some of the top food allergies are peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, dairy, eggs, soy, gluten and wheat.
6. Have a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM).
iPura covers this in their blog “FDA Retail Food Safety Initiative—Focus on Protection,” which is a FDA initiative that will become more well known as time moves on. Establishments with a CFPM are more compliant with regulations and have less risk factors. Straight from their action plan, the duties of a CFPM are to make their presence a common practice, strengthen active managerial control at retail to ensure better compliance, encourage widespread, uniform and complete adoption of the FDA Food Code and to create an enhanced local regulatory environment for retail food operations.
Food labels help employees know which foods are fresh, which foods need to be used quickly and which foods are no longer good for use and need to be discarded. Ecolab has put together an entire page dedicated to food rotation which includes their “First In, First Out” method to ensure food is served fresh and is safe.
8. Be familiar with your food supplier.
Smart Blog on Restaurants covers this in their blog, “Food Safety Checklist for Restaurants.” By knowing your food distributor and using a trusted one, you can work with them to ensure food is safe and of the best quality. SmartBlog also has this reminder, which is similar to what we said earlier about never sacrificing food safety to save some money: “Be wary of suppliers that are guided solely by price; food safety as a cost, but it’s worth the investment.”
9. Wash foods properly.
That being said, kitchens should also know which foods aren’t recommended for washing. There are quite a few specifics when it comes to proper food washing and the USDA has put together this “Safe Food Handling” guide on their website to help with proper food washing methods.
10. Create a plan and stick to it.
Make sure you have safe food handling practices and your employees follow them. It’s a serious matter. Employees must know safe food handling practices are one of the most important aspects to their job and everyone needs to comply.
How does your foodservice establishment handle food safety? What are some methods that have been successful?