You are probably already well versed in proper food safety protocols for running your restaurant or food service business, but it is always a good idea to brush up on the basics of common food safety issues every so often to refresh your memory.This is especially true when it's your job to also train your staff in proper food handling techniques.
The food service industry is one of the few industries where a "simple" mistake or "minor" oversight can quickly turn into a nightmare of sick customers and HACCP compliance issues. Left unchecked, these problems can escalate into a temporary closure or a full shutdown of your restaurant, not to mention completely ruining your reputation.
To help you avoid the headaches, we've compiled a quick and simple list of the most common food safety issues you should pay close attention to.
Hand washing is the most critical aspect of kitchen hygiene for every employee, and should be covered on the job from day one. Perhaps it seems a bit silly to have to teach people how to properly wash their hands, but it won't seem so silly when your customers start getting sick due to one uninformed employee. Take the time to go over the golden rule of food safety issues - proper hand washing procedure, and be sure it's posted in all restrooms and above the hand washing station in the kitchen and backrooms, too. It's also a good idea to add this quick lesson to all employee handbooks, employment agreements, and training materials.
Washing, sanitizing, and properly drying all tools and work surfaces should be your next big lesson to all new employees. Skipping the cleaning and sanitizing lessons is a great way to get your restaurant shut down for good. As with hand washing information, go over the procedure for each new hire and hang signs in appropriate areas as reminders. This is another great item to keep in the employee handbook and training materials for food safety guidelines.
Beyond simply washing and sanitizing tools and work surfaces, controlling cross-contamination risks also involves proper handling of different types of food. Even if your restaurant doesn't deal in a particular kind, it never hurts to go over all food safety issue information anyway. Who knows? Perhaps down the line you may decide to expand your menu to include some new foods. Isn't it better to be prepared now than waste time retraining everyone later?
Some cross-contamination basics include- Any raw meat, seafood, poultry, or eggs should always be stored, handled, and prepared away from all other foods. This includes any prep surfaces, like sinks, where vegetables or fruits will be washed and prepped. In addition to proper sanitizing and cleaning procedures, color-coding your cutting boards, kitchen tools, and prep areas will help stop cross-contamination. Keep an updated checklist of proper food handling procedures, so employees are always prepared.
Generally speaking, the Danger Zone is between 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit, but individual foods may require more detailed care. Be sure to know what your ingredients require to avoid any potential food safety issues.
Foods kept between 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria, which leads to customer illness and your reputation being ruined. Keep logs of your food storage, prep, and service temperatures with frequent temperature checks. It seems like a tedious task, but you can make this process more streamlined by using a food safety management system that syncs with your thermometers and logs temps for you. With such software on hand, you can quickly and easily pull up logs for inspectors to show them how on-point your staff really is and how safe your foods are.
Beyond washing hands and proper sanitizing of work areas and tools, your staff needs to know what kind of behavior you expect in your kitchens, storage areas, and front end.
Food safety issues include work safety rules, and they should be stressed just as much as the sanitation aspects. Make sure your rules are posted in the staff areas and that training materials cover them, too. If a new rule is put in place, be sure every employee has access to the updated list and that everyone understands the ramifications of breaking these rules. It's more than just getting in trouble when it comes to kitchen safety; customers could become ill, and your brand's name could suffer.
Where does the leftover food go at the end of the night? How are your disposal areas kept, and how often are they cleaned? Food safety issues and general waste disposal may seem less important than food handling and kitchen sanitizing, but it's not. Without proper disposal procedures, garbage and food waste could build up in your dumpsters, inviting rodents and other pests to move right in. From there, it's just a matter of time before they discover a new and gloriously bountiful harvest in your kitchen and pantry.
Keep daily logs of disposal activities, and be sure to check up on the employees in charge of keeping those areas clean. Daily sweeping helps, but be ready to wash and sanitize the area every so often to help ward off any pests.
Food safety issues are no joke. You're dealing with potentially deadly consequences if you skimp on equipment and training. Following proper food safety guidelines ensures your customers stay healthy and your brand's reputation continues to improve. However, we know it's a lot to keep track of, and it might even seem daunting. With today's modern technology, keeping checklists, logs, and reports is as easy as using one simple app. Even if you're not there, in person, you can keep track of task lists and safety checks on your mobile device, all with one quick glance.
Check out this great article on the use of new and powerful apps, such as Zip HACCP, to track, monitor, and update every aspect of your business, including food safety information, with a click, tap, or flick. If you're ready to get your food safety procedures under control, head over to Hubworks and try Zip HACCP free