Preventing Food Contamination | Stay Sanitary with Zip HACCP
Never risk a missed step with food contamination practices
This post examines the ways that Zip HACCP can assist in maintaining appropriate levels of sanitation and hygiene within a food service business and avoiding issues of contamination.
The FDA and local health code enforcers tend to make a pretty big deal out of issues relating to food contamination in restaurants. As infuriating as this may be to owners, who may see the extra precautions as a nuisance, there's no denying that these agencies making a big deal out of the issue are totally warranted. The potential for very serious, potentially even life-threatening illness that can spawn from serving contaminated food to a customer is abundant and poses a risk not just to the restaurant's reputation, but to its ability to remain open. Indeed, this can cost not only return customers but the livelihoods of you and your employees.
So clearly it's a serious issue with the potential for serious repercussions. You've probably read the seemingly endless FDA guidelines on preventing food contamination from occurring in the first place. You probably even practice a few of them, but there's no denying that, to some extent, these precautions can be tedious. The thing is, it isn't necessarily the precautions themselves that can drain the patience out of you and your staff so much as it is assigning these duties to employees and ensure that they are carried out correctly and efficiently.
Luckily, this post exists to help demonstrate the value of a restaurant management app, in this case, Zip HACCP, in doling out these responsibilities and making sure that they are handled properly the first time. We're going to take a look at some of the basic precautions that you should already be taking with your restaurant or business, and then we'll have a look at how Zip HACCP can help make this process easier, more efficient, and ideally more impeccably done.
Food Contamination Precautions
First, let's get something basic out of the way. When we refer to food contamination, there are two different kinds we could be referring to. The first is cross-contamination, which involves two food items that should never come in contact crossing each other's paths. A timeless example of this is in cases where someone has a food allergy, say to something like peanuts. In many restaurants, where a peanut dish is served, it might be near impossible to keep cross-contamination at bay at all levels. Some, though, have an entirely separate freezer and workstation for dishes that involve peanuts, meaning the odds of cross-contamination are cut down. However, should a knife from that part of the kitchen happen to end up being used on the other side, then the entire area would be deemed contaminated, and food production would need to halt until the whole kitchen is deep cleaned and the threat of contamination is eliminated.
Most forms of contamination are some version of cross-contamination. Whether it's the peanut example from above, or an issue involving raw meat (and its associated bacteria) coming in contact with already cooked food, the basic premise of cross-contamination remains one of the single biggest threats to food hygiene and food contamination prevention. The other major food contamination concern is outside germs/bacteria/chemicals, coming in contact with food. I consider this a separate concern strictly because cross-contamination typically involves food and it's own related bacteria, not outside contaminants. In this case, we look at things like a sick chef preparing a meal and accidentally coughing without properly covering their face and things of the sort as one of the main culprits. It certainly isn't a pleasant thought, but it is unavoidable in a work environment that involves human beings.
Zip HACCP and Food Contamination
Now that we've established what the two main forms of food contamination are, and some examples of each, let's get into the real reason you're reading this article- to learn how to streamline the process of preventing such issues. Since there are two distinct types of food contamination at play, we're going to break down the ways that Zip HACCP can help with each different type.
1. First, let's take a look at how Zip HACCP can help manage and prevent cross-contamination. One of Zip HACCP's most important features is its ability to create, store, update, and manage checklists. These lists can be everything from making sure the ordering gets done to ensuring that the kitchen is cleaned at the end of each day. Right here, we have a new, more direct way to hold employees accountable for making sure that the kitchen and workstations are cleaned, and cleaned properly, in an effort to remove forms of bacteria and other contaminants from the area from the night before, or even first thing in the morning, to make sure that the risk of cross-contamination is cut down significantly.
2. Another benefit of these checklists has to do with monitoring who is completing the tasks so it can be determined if they are doing the quality of work that they're expected to. If an employee puts down that they cleaned the countertops, for example, and you see that the countertops are still dirty, then that employee directly is the one to talk to. There is no more time wasted trying to determine who cleaned what so that the right person can be disciplined; it is all there, right within Zip HACCP.
3. As for our second major type of contamination, this is a little bit harder to manage, though still not impossible. When it comes to food contamination from outside the food itself, the main point of contention is human bacteria. While it might be a bit tedious to have employees mark down every time they've washed their hands, it is still possible. An alternative to this is having each employee check off that they've washed their hands at the beginning of a shift so at least you can be certain that any potential contamination that follows is a result of contaminants already in the kitchen. It may not be an end-all solution, but it is certainly a preventative measure to at least demonstrate your business' attempt at controlling food contamination.
There you have it, our overview of food contamination and how Zip HACCP can help your restaurant control this major concern. As always, if you've got any questions about this subject, our company, or any of our apps, including Zip HACCP, feel free to get in touch with us. While you're here, though, you should check out this article post we did on everything you need to know about upgrading your restaurant's technology.