As a restaurant owner, the safety of your food should always be the top priority. The taste of the food you serve, the service that you provide, and the ambiance of your location are also important factors, however, if your food isn’t safe, no one’s going to be eating at your restaurant. Remember, it only takes a few mistakes to ruin the great reputation that you’ve built for your restaurant.
Here are some food safety tips that every restaurateur must follow:
This is perhaps the most obvious rule but it’s also the most crucial. One should ensure that everything and everyone is clean to prevent the spread of germs. Employees should always wash their hands properly when switching tasks or after handling raw food, touching dirty surfaces, taking a break, etc.
As for the restaurant’s space and surfaces, they must always be cleaned and sanitized. This goes for all items being used as well such as dishes, pans, and appliances. Food should be cleared right away, tables and counters and floors should be kept spotless, dishes should be done often, trash and leftovers should be disposed properly.
● Purchasing Safe Raw Materials
To guarantee safe food, you must procure safe ingredients. Only get materials from a trusted and known supplier. Look for someone who has been inspected and certified by your local food authority.
You must also inspect all deliveries to check if they are in excellent condition upon receiving. Return the shipment if it seems to have been thawed and refrozen. It would be helpful to have a fixed schedule for deliveries to avoid peak hours. Make sure to clean the storage areas before receiving deliveries so that they can be stored immediately.
● Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
When it comes to production, follow the safe minimum cooking temperatures. The following minimum internal temperatures indicate the temperature for each food type that is hot enough to kill harmful germs that cause food poisoning.
Utilize a clean food thermometer to measure the temperature. It should be placed in the thickest part or at least two inches into the food.
➔ 160°F: Any Ground meats such as beef, turkey, or chicken
➔ 165°F: Poultry, stuffed foods, casseroles and microwaved animal products
➔ 155°F: Sausage and hamburger
➔ 145°F: Eggs, pork, fish and beef
➔ 135°F: Vegetables that will be kept warm, and packaged and ready-to-eat foods like soup or hot dogs
● Avoid Cross Contamination
Cross contamination occurs when bacteria spreads from one food to another. This can happen through food-to-food, equipment-to-food, and people-to-food.
Ensure that raw and cooked food are kept separate. In storage, keep raw meats below cooked or prepared food to avoid leaking. When it comes to equipment, use different cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and fruits and vegetables. Always clean equipment that comes into contact with raw meat after using. Wash hands as often as necessary when handling raw and cooked foods.
● Safe Food Storage
Be cautious in storing and cooling your food just as cautious as you are when cooking it. Food can spoil when left out too long. Avoid having to discard what could have been perfectly edible food by storing them properly. As a general rule, don’t leave food out at room temperature for longer than two hours so as not to enter the “Danger Zone.” According to the USDA, the “Danger Zone” is between 40 °F and 140 °F ( 4.4°C- 60°C), where bacteria grows rapidly within 20 minutes.
Escape the “Danger Zone” by keeping hot food hot (at or above 140 °F) and cold food cold (at or below 40 °F). Place cooked food in chafing dishes, preheated steam tables, warming trays, or slow cookers if hot and use an ice bath if cold.
● Using Disposables Properly
Single use items should be disposed of after one use even if they appear clean or good as new. Disposable items should be stored properly and safely away from chemicals like cleaning agents. Keep disposables sanitary by avoiding touching the surface that comes into contact with the food or mouth. If they are to be taken out of their original containers, stack them with the bottom side up.
● Employee Guidelines
The employees are the ones handling the food in your restaurant. From receiving ingredients, to preparing and cooking the dish, all the way to serving it to the customer and cleaning up. That is why it’s essential to establish guidelines for them to follow in order to maintain the quality of your products and service.
David Rowland, Head of Marketing at Engage EHS, notes that, “Your employee guidelines should focus on personal hygiene. For instance, employees who are sick, especially if it’s infectious, should inform management. They will be advised to stay at home or at the very least, not handle food depending on the situation.” Other important policies are keeping themselves clean, keeping hair restrained, keeping nails short and clean, and avoiding wearing jewelry while on duty.