Did you know that 1 in 6 people get sick due to foodborne illness every day?
Even more alarming, many pregnant women and elderly people are at a higher risk of falling sick to such illnesses. This is due in large part to a weakened immune system.
For many restaurants, ensuring proper hygiene regulations are enforced, while also maintaining that the entire staff meets these regulations is, of course, imperative, yet immensely challenging.
Falling short to these health codes will not only warrant an inspection from the food department, but it could cost your business millions in lost revenue in the form of legal fees and lawsuits - in addition to negative attention publically.
A single foodborne outbreak could taint the image of the restaurant and cause irreparable damage, which is why food safety needs to be a priority.
Through practical strategizing, attention to detail, and proper staff training, it is possible to minimize food illness in your eatery.
Here are the 5 best ways to prevent food safety hazards in your restaurant.
Cleanliness, the mother of all food safety tips, and food safety go hand-in-hand because food safety is impossible to achieve in an unclean area.
Maintaining cleanliness eliminates contamination, which is one of the largest sources for foodborne diseases.
You can ensure a clean environment in the workplace by strongly promoting handwashing. Proper handwashing is not about simply rinsing your hands under running water; it’s more about the process. The entire procedure should take less 1-minute and should involve anti-bacterial soap and hot water.
Train your staff to dry their hands before touching any food items. Furthermore, one of the best ways of preventing poor food safety is by installing hand washing stations or hand sanitizing stations throughout the facility.
It is also important to ensure that all employees are washing their hands after
- Going to the restroom
- Handling raw or uncooked meat, poultry or fish
- Talking or messaging on the phone
- Coughing or sneezing
- Handling dirty dishes
- Cleaning the table or kitchen surface
The best way to eliminate germs and bacteria is with this step. Though washing your hands regularly will promote good hygiene, sanitizing the restaurant will prevent the outbreak of unwanted foodborne illness.
Sanitizing includes cleaning the kitchen area, chopping boards, surfaces, trash cans, equipment, floor drains, crockery, and everything, which is prone to dirt.
You need to regularly sanitize the surfaces to prevent the growth of bacteria and pests.
Here are a few ways of sanitizing the eatery.
- Clean the dirty table and kitchen surfaces using a damp cloth and disinfectant
- Allow the surface to dry
- Never allow a sick worker to prepare fresh food
- Unused food at the customer’s table should be cleared without coming in contact with the fresh food
- Stick to the 2¬-hour rule of discarding the food. This primarily applies to buffets and catered food
- For buffets and outdoor catering, never add food to the pan, which is lying open at room temperature
Aside from using water, soap, and disinfectants, you can use heat on utensils and flatware.
Run the dishwasher safe items in a high-temperature dishwasher. For non-dishwasher safe flatware, soak them in hot water for at least 30-40 seconds before washing.
There is a science behind preparing food at different temperature levels, as the majority of pathogens grow the fastest within a temperature range of 41 degrees Fahrenheit to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. This is also referred to as the danger zone.
At a temperature below 41 degrees, though the pathogen may live, they will not reproduce. The danger zone lies between these two temperatures when the bacteria enjoy ideal conditions for reproducing.
Therefore, follow the given below temperature zones provided by the USDA for various food categories.
140 degrees - Holding temperature for all cooked food
145 degrees - Lamb, beef, veal steaks & roasts, seafood
155 degrees - Hamburgers and sausages
160 degrees - Ground meats, egg dishes, veal steaks, lamb veal, pork
165 degrees - Casseroles, poultry, stuffing and reheat leftovers
Do you know how long you can keep food in the danger zone?
For food lying in the danger zone, it doesn’t take much time to spoil. Food lying open on the kitchen surface, on the guest’s table or near the oven for a long time could be full of harmful bacteria.
This is why it is always important to abide by the 2-hour rule for discarding the food. Furthermore, ensure that the prepared or perishable good is not left in the open for more than 2-hours before storing it in the refrigerator.
There is no comparison when it comes to saving a few dollars at the cost of your customers’ health and livelihood.
In the restaurant business, cross-contamination occurs when bacteria or allergens transfer from one object to another. Therefore, it’s recommended to keep raw and cooked food separated.
Though invisible to the human eye, the transfer of contaminants from fresh to cook food occurs extremely fast and is dangerous for the customers.
Also, when storing food in the same refrigerator or area, designate different sections for cooked and uncooked food.
It’s advisable to store raw food at the bottom shelves to avoid spillage over the cooked food items. You can reduce cross-contamination by having separate chopping boards for hot and cold foods.
For instance, never chop raw meat and poultry items on fruits & vegetables chopping board.
The bottom line, one way to prevent poor food safety is by using food safety and task management software. The applications help you follow the industry’s best practices to maintain hygiene in the restaurant.