There isn't an official definition of food safety compliance, mainly because the rules and regulations you should follow will differ depending on where you're located and what type of food service you provide. However, there are some basic food safety rules every restaurant should follow. In addition to these rules, and to help food service companies better serve their customers, HACCP was created. It is an internationally recognized management system addressing food safety using analysis and control of hazards such as biological, physical, and chemical.
It's a lot of words that simply mean a system was set up to identify possible food safety issues and ways to control them, reducing illness and contamination to your customers. When you follow proven food safety guidelines, some of which we've included in this article, you're in compliance. It's just that simple.
If you check the official HACCP website, you'll notice it goes into an exhaustive list of how to identify hazards and how to make a plan to control them. It's informative, and worth a thorough read when you have time, but it can be condensed down to a much simpler format. For this article, we're going to cover the day-to-day things you can do to be sure your restaurant is in compliance with food safety regulations. This article is less about hazard identification and making actions plans, and more about specific examples of things you'll run across while managing your food service business.
If you're already running a restaurant, you probably already know what you need to do to keep the food safe and your customers healthy, but it's always good to go over the basics again. This overview should be useful in getting you up to speed and bringing your business to compliance quickly and painlessly. It's also an excellent resource when training new staff.
1. Food and General Supply Storage
Food, spices, and other edibles should always be stored away from any cleaning supplies. This means the cleaning closet should not be located in or near the kitchen and food prep or storage areas. Anyone moving between the two areas should also follow all cross-contamination prevention practices.
2. Cleaning Procedures Should Always Be Clear
Basic cleaning and sanitizing rules for all food services include specific handwashing procedures, kitchen and food storage cleaning and sanitizing methods, and dining area cleaning. Don't neglect your waste disposal area. Proper disposal of waste and recycling are important aspects of running a safe and clean restaurant. Dirty dumpsters attract pests, and once they've moved in, many pests are difficult and expensive to get rid of.
3. Raw Meats, Poultry, Seafood, and Eggs Pose a Special Risk
These items should be kept away from all other foods. They should have their prep areas and tools, such as cutting boards and washing stations, ideally color-coded for easy and quick identification. This helps prevent cross-contamination, one of the major issues every restaurant faces.
4. Dry Storage and Refrigeration
Having appropriate refrigeration and dry storage is a must, so be sure to check local regulations regarding these aspects. Check all product labels for storage and handling instructions, and follow them closely. For example, if something says to keep in a cool, dry location, you don't want to store it next to the ovens.
5. Temperature Matters
Maintaining safe temperatures of all foods at all stages is a critical aspect of food safety compliance. Frequent temperature checks and accurate logging are integral to your success and your brand's reputation. A single incorrect reading not only means your restaurant is no longer in compliance, but you risk making your customers sick, too.
6. Keep Impeccable Records
Food safety compliance means you will need to keep accurate logs of everything you do. That includes task checklists, food temperature logs, ordering histories, employee records, and corrective action logs for the times when things just don't go as planned. Should your restaurant ever be inspected or audited, your logs will go a long way in proving you've paid attention to every small detail. Poorly kept records can be a career-ender.
7. Don’t Skimp on Staff Training
You can study and plan and log everything perfectly, but if even one of your employees doesn't fully understand the job, it can spell disaster for your company. Be sure to train your staff well right from day one, and continue to provide high-quality training throughout their employment. Your employees are the face of your business, so help them do a great job, stay in compliance, and help your brand continue to grow.
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It can be confusing deciding how to handle all this information, all those procedures, and so many logs. Putting it all down on paper is time-consuming, and if something happens to your original document before you can make copies, it's gone forever. What a mess! Staying in compliance means keeping everything in order and having logs to prove everything has been done correctly, but there's a lot of room for mistakes when dealing with that many pieces of paper or logbooks. Don't panic just yet, though. There's an easy way to do it all!
With all of the food safety information you need to remember, regulations to follow, and employees that need training, finding ways to streamline these processes will help save time and money. If tracking and logging and reporting everything on paper aren't appealing to you, you're not alone. The old way was messy, frustrating, and a big waste of the time and talents of managers, owners, and staff alike. It wasted money in the form of extra papers, loose files, and dusty logbook clogging up storage space.
Now that mobile apps have proven to be so useful in everyday life, it was just a matter of time before someone thought of a way to help foodservice professionals. Efficient and affordable food safety compliance is now available in a simple digital format. Zip HACCP is a one-stop app that covers every aspect of food safety compliance, including logging temperatures in real-time and listing corrective actions, as well as checklists for all types of procedures to keep your restaurant in compliance. Zip HACCP is a powerful food safety solution you can trust.
Looking for more information on HACCP standards and food safety? We've got some great resources here on the Hubworks blog, particularly “The Definitive Guide to HACCP and Food Safety | 7 HACCP Principles,” for you to check out!