Why are Restaurant Food Safety Practices Important?
Foodborne illnesses such as food poisoning and bacterial infection affect over 48 million people in the United States every year. While 128,000 are hospitalized, 3,000 die of foodborne diseases, says the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When you're in the restaurant business, you have to do everything in your power to ensure you don't put Public Health to risk with the food you serve.
Restaurants, and fast-food chains in particular, often become the source of viral and bacterial outbreaks that can end up affecting hundreds. It is therefore critically important for restaurants to abide by food safety practices when serving customers. If food safety is not preserved at a restaurant, not only will it risk the health of customers, but also the reputation of the business itself, thriving as it does on good faith and trust. Moreover, it can also invite federal action that can lead to hefty penalties and even a permanent ban on operations.
10 Food Safety PracticesNo. 1- Institute Food Safety Training
Firstly, it is extremely important that your restaurant staff undergoes Food Safety training on washing techniques, crisis management, cooking techniques, temperature monitoring, food preparation, storage and more. There are various short-term safety training courses offered by service providers who are authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Find out a safety training module that best suits your business and have your staff trained immediately.
On the other hand, you can employ accredited food handlers who have already undergone rigorous safety training and know how to handle food appropriately. You can also have your employees receive institutional food safety training from an accredited course provider. These courses cover everything related to food preparation, food handling, cooking temperatures, proper food storage and more.
Outbreaks of food-borne illnesses can be a costly and damaging to business reputation.
Implement these best practices in restaurant food safety to keep your customers safe and your business protected.
No. 2- Ensure Proper Food Refrigeration
Cooked food when left out in the open at room temperature for a longer period of time, ends up creating a conducive environment for harmful bacteria. Bacterial growth is rapid when cooked food is left at room temperature or in the range of 40-140 F. Bacteria doubles within 20 minutes if food is left in this temperature range for more than two hours. This temperature range is therefore known as the Danger Zone.
As a food safety practice, you must not leave cooked food for over two hours out in the open. When you're outdoors, this time reduces to one hour. Make sure you properly refrigerate cooked food at the right time. Refrigeration is equally important for uncooked food items that are perishable, such as milk, meat and poultry. These need to be put in the refrigerator right away. While the freezer temperature should be 0 F, your refrigerator should be at 40 F or below.
No. 3- Ensure Regular Hand Washing and Hygiene
One of the easiest ways a restaurant can ensure Disease Control and food safety is by having its staff regularly washing their hands before, after and during food preparation. This reduces the chance of cross contamination from one ingredient or food item to another. If you are handling meat or poultry, make sure you wash your hands before going to another food station to pick up anything else. The same rule applies to vegetables, fruits and even packaged food items.
No. 4- Make Sure Food is Cooked to the Right Temperature
The US FDA has come up with a food temperature chart that specifies the right cooking temperature for different raw foods, such as lamb, veal, egg dishes, ham, etc. It is recommended that you follow this chart to know the safe minimum temperatures for cooking raw food in order to prevent harmful bacteria from spreading.
A restaurant food-borne illness outbreak can be devastating.
Food-borne illnesses are on the rise. They’re often caused by poor hygiene and lack of knowledge.
No. 5- Keep Cutting Boards Separate
Keep cutting boards for raw food, cooked food, meat and poultry items separate to avoid cross contamination. Cutting boards exposed to different products can lead to bacterial or viral growth spreading from one item to another. Meat, poultry, eggs and other such animal products often contain bacteria, virus and other microorganisms that are harmful to human health.
No. 6- Wash and Sanitize Equipment for Food Preparation
While personal hygiene is crucial for all restaurant staff to ensure food safety, washing and sanitizing kitchen equipment are equally important practices if you want to serve safe food. From cutting boards to electronic appliances, knives and ladles, every piece of equipment needs to be washed and sanitized before and after the preparation of each individual dish to make sure there are no chances of cross contamination.
No. 7- Rotate Cooking Practices
Rotating food is done to make sure older stocks are cleared out before using the ones with longer shelf-life. This reduces wastage, lowers food costs, and prevents foorborne illnesses like food poisoning. When you use up older stocks first, you eliminate the chances of using expired goods to prepare your food. Moreover, rotating food also helps to better organize the inventory.
No. 8- Make Sure to Separate Raw From Cooked Ingredients
Raw food and cooked food cannot be mixed or kept together in a refrigerator at any cost. This raises the chances of cross contamination from one food to another and may render the food unsafe for consumption. While raw meat poultry need to be kept in the freezer, cooked meat can stay in the refrigerator at a higher temperature range. These cannot be mixed, however.
No. 9- Thaw and Reheat Only What you Need
Thaw meat poultry only a few hours before cooking; do not leave them out in the open at room temperature for too long. Also, reheat refrigerated cooked food right when you are about to serve it, and not too long before. Reheating the food several hours before serving may lead to contamination due to room temperature conditions.
No. 10- Distribute Food to Tables Only When Ready to Eat
Prepare, reheat and serve cooked food only when it is ready to eat. It is not ideal to leave uncooked or underprepared food on the table while your customers are waiting. This will not only affect your customer service but also compromise food safety.
How to Make Sure Safety Guidelines are Followed?
While the above-mentioned food safety practices may seem a lot to handle with all other restaurant and kitchen management operations, it can be made easy by deploying a Haccp Plan. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. This is an established food safety management system that helps restaurants gain an overview of the potential hazards they may experience during food preparationand serving. It also tells them what corrective actions and monitoring procedures can help eliminate these food safetyhazards.
A HACCP plan not only makes sure your restaurant is serving safe food, it also helps you stay compliant with food safety authorities such as the FDA. HACCP management systems such as Zip HACCP further automate the process of safety management, taking care of each and every food safety step and guiding the staff through them all.
Foodborne illnesses are a common problem in restaurants.
Poor food safety practices can lead to food-borne illnesses, which can be costly and damaging to business reputation.