5 Food Safety Solutions That Will Help Keep Your Kitchen and Customers Safe
What is Food Safety?
Food Safety refers to handling, preparing and storing food in a way to reduce the risk of individuals falling sick from foodborne illnesses.
A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) states that 1 in 10 people suffer from foodborne illnesses every year.
No restaurant owner would like to see their customers fall ill after eating their food. A while back the Mexican food chain, Chipotle, was in the news for a major foodborne outbreak. The issue became so huge, the FDA had to launch an investigation. The company ended up spending $8 billion to deal with the problem.According to a report by CNN, Chipotle lost 44% of its profit that year compared to the year before.
It's therefore important to make sure that necessary food safety measures are in place at your restaurant. We have chalked out a list of food safety solutions every restaurant needs to adhere to before serving their customers.
Food Safety Solution No. 1- Keep Your Kitchen and Equipment Clean
Managing a restaurant doesn't just mean overseeing the kitchen and waitstaff and serving customers. It involves putting in place food safety protocols that ensure customers enjoy food that's safe to consume. Food safety protocols should be part of the food safety training imparted to restaurant staff.
These protocols include cleaning restaurant equipment and kitchen surfaces regularly. According to Food Code, a U.S. Public Health Service, all equipment must be cleaned at least once in 24 hours. Your ovens, grills, cooktops, mixers, deep fryers, vents, ducts, spoons, dishwashers, coffee makers, ladles, and everything used to prepare food must be cleaned every single day.
Your food safety solutions list should also include lubricating the motors and parts of your appliances regularly to ensure smooth functioning. This will ensure that your machines are sanitized and well maintained.
Following these practices will benefit you in several ways.
Consistent food safety
Appliances that are clean and running smoothly will ensure that the meals are good, free of contamination that can cause foodborne illnesses, and delicious. It will also lead to quick and good service, which means more customers and more revenue.
It's no secret that commercial kitchen equipment is costly. No one wants to spend a lot on replacing equipment. With regular maintenance and servicing, you will be extending the lifespan of your appliances.
Safe work environment
Regular cleaning of appliances will free utensils of grease and other particles that can cause kitchen fires. Your kitchen staff must be given proper safety training to ensure that no untoward incident takes place. Maintaining a proper cleaning schedule will help develop a good food safety culture at your restaurant.
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Food Safety Solution No. 2- Store Food Safely
Another key factor to keep in mind when it comes to food safety is storage. Places where food is stored must be spotlessly clean and the required storage standards should be maintained.
Kitchen staff plays an important role here as they handle the food day in and day out. With all the chaos in the kitchen, especially on hectic days, chances are high that the way food is stored is compromised.
To ensure this does not happen, it is important to provide kitchen staff with food safety training. They should be well-versed with-
- Where should different types of food be stored
- At what temperature should food items be preserved
- How to prevent food from getting contaminated
Food safety training for kitchen staff must therefore include-
Proper labelling of food
Every food item must be labelled properly with a 'use by' date. This will ensure that everyone knows what food needs to be used first. By doing this, the quality and freshness of the food will remain intact.
Meats go under
Meat tend to produce a lot of juice which can drip onto other food items if not stored properly. At times, even storing them in air-tight containers doesn't help. The best thing to do is to store meats at the bottom of the fridge. This will safeguard against cross-contamination.
When it comes to storing food, the right temperature is very important. The temperature of your refrigerator must be at or below 40 degrees F, while your freezer temperature should be 0 F. Your kitchen staff must have this critical information.
Store food in air-tight containers
Did you know that air can spoil your food? The minute food comes into contact with air, it decreases its shelf life. For longer shelf life, food must be stored in air-tight containers. This will prevent food from coming into contact with bacteria.
Say no to packed fridges
The biggest kitchen rule is to never pack your fridge or freezer. A crowded fridge will not function to the best of its ability. This can also lead to a drop in temperature, which will mean food contamination. By following the right storage methods, you can ensure food safety.
Commercial kitchens tend to get dirty quickly. Ensure that all storage units and shelves are cleaned thoroughly every day. Food items must be kept at least 6 to 12 inches off the floor to prevent contamination.
Food Safety Solution No. 3- Separate Food During Prep
Practicing good food hygiene ensures that food prepared is free from food contamination and good for Public Health. While storing food correctly is important, preparing food in the right manner also plays an important role in preventing contamination and foodborne illnesses.
Separating raw food from cooked food is the golden rule of storage. This prevents harmful bacteria from spreading and causing contamination. Food contaminated with E.coli can cause serious illness or even death.
Food safety training around food storage must include-
- Separate areas for ready-to-eat food
- Do not use the same cutting board for meat, poultry, and seafood
- Store plates separately
- Raw meat, poultry, seafood must not be kept near cook food on the kitchen counter because it can lead to cross-contamination
- Try to use separate knives for everything. Label them, so everyone knows which knife is to be used for what
- If space permits, provide separate workstations for various foods
- Meat, poultry, and seafood must be kept separate even inside the refrigerator
Food for Thought: According to a report by WHO, only a small number of factors related to food handling are responsible for foodborne illnesses. They include-
- Food is prepared several hours before consumption and isn't preserved at the right temperature, leading to pathogens and toxins
- Overheating, reheating and insufficient cooking
- Poor hygiene
Food Safety Solution No. 4- Ensure Good Hand-washing Practices
Hand-washing has become an important practice for everyone, especially post the Covid-19 pandemic.
Foodborne illnesses are caused by pathogens that are not visible to the eye. Hand-washing is the easiest way to destroy these pathogens and contain the spread of diseases. Restaurant owners must ensure that their staff adheres to the food safety rules by washing their hands regularly.
Restaurant staff must wash their hands after-
- Trash disposal
- Clearing and cleaning tables
- Washing dirty dishes
- Smoking, sneezing, coughing, eating, and drinking
- Using the restroom
- Coming into contact with harmful chemicals
- Handling raw meats
These simple step-by-step instructions must be followed by everyone in the food industry-
- First, rinse your hands with hot water, if possible, to remove dirt.
- Apply soap and scrub hands properly. Ensure that you clean between your fingers and under your fingernails.
- Rinse your hands properly to remove any residue.
- Dry your hands with a paper towel. Use another one to ensure that your hands are completely dry.
- Finally, apply a hand sanitizer that acts as an antiseptic. Follow this by drying your hands thoroughly.
Did you Know?:
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Food Safety Solution No. 5- Cook Food at the Correct Temperature
Ensuring that edible products are cooked at the right food temperature is a vital component of food safety for restaurants. Furthermore, hot meals should be kept hot, and frozen products must be preserved at the proper temperature.
Eateries can prevent food-borne infections by employing effective food preparation techniques. This is significant because it ensures that food safety regulations are followed and that restaurant patrons are fed high-quality meals.
The kitchen staff needs to know the right food safety temperatures. To ensure this, a food thermometer must be used.
Here's a list of food items and their ideal cooking temperatures-
- Fish must be cooked at 145 F
- Ground meat should be cooked at 160 F
- Chicken and turkey at 165 F
- Whole cuts like lamb, beef, ham at 145 F, following which allow the meat to rest for about 3 minutes before it can be consumed
- Leftover food and casseroles at 165 F
Furthermore, bacteria can grow on food that has been fully cooked. As a result, hot food should be kept at or above 140 F. Vegetables and dairy products, for example, must be kept at or below 40 F.
If you have to reheat food, it must be heated till the internal minimum temperature is at least 165 F. Reheating must be done quickly; therefore, steam tables and warmers are not an ideal choice to use.
All these procedures must be kept in mind to ensure that your restaurant adheres to standard Food Safety norms.
Fast Facts: As per the Food Safety Agency, food safety policies should reflect the 4 Cs-
Use HACCP Software to Monitor Food Safety
HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) is a term that is prominently used in the culinary world. It is a set of principles and practices that helps identify, evaluate and control food safety hazards.
HACCP came into inception in 1960 when Pillsbury Corporation, in collaboration with NASA, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Air Force space laboratory, collaborated to provide astronauts with food that was safe to consume in space.
FDA considers HACCP the most effective and efficient way to ensure that food products are safe. (2001 FDA Food Code).
HACCP is based on 7 principles.
1. Implement a hazard analysis
First, food and beverage companies must specify the steps in their operations and identify the regions where hazards are most likely to occur. After you've sketched out each process, you can figure out which dangers can be avoided, minimized, or controlled with a good HACCP strategy. ZIP HACCP by Hubworks is the perfect software to tackle food safety issues. It has hazard control checklists which let employees know how to tackle food safety issues.
2. Determine critical control points (CCPs)
CCPs are measures implemented to control food safety hazards. These could include cooking and cooling food to a specific temperature, packaging and metal detection. Zip HACCP is linked to the Blu 2 Bluetooth temperature monitor, making it easier than ever before to manage food storage temperature.
3. Establish critical limits
A critical limit is the minimum or maximum value that reliably prevents, eliminates, or reduces a hazard.
4. Establish monitoring procedures
These procedures should be monitored frequently to keep your CCPs within check. Monitoring will also allow you to determine whether your processes are effective or not. Zip HACCP gives you the flexibility to manage all aspects of your restaurant from within the app without being physically present at the site.
5. Establish corrective actions
Although the HACCP system is developed to prevent hazards, mishaps still happen. You must then use a corrective action to remedy the problem and prevent it from happening in the future. Corrective actions should point out to the problem and its cause, along with preventive steps. Zip HACCP provides instant alerts for any critical issues that arise.
6. Establish verification procedures
Verification actions must be established to guarantee that the HACCP plan is valid and effective. Auditing CCPs, reviewing records, testing finished items, and calibrating instruments are some examples. Zip HACCP allows you to create the food safety audit checklist your restaurant needs.
7. Create and use record-keeping and documentation methods
Record-keeping is an integral part of the HACCP plan. Clear and easy to understand documentation makes it easy for you as well as any auditor to understand your plan.