Guidelines for Food Safety in Restaurants
We will cover the most critical aspects of a successful program to prevent foodborne illnesses and ensure your guests’ safety.
Poor hygiene is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness, but an outbreak can be prevented by establishing policies and following up with your staff regularly. Keep the following factors in mind when you create a hygiene program:
It takes only a few minutes to wash your hands, but it is a vital step in preventing germs from spreading that can cause foodborne illnesses. Food can be contaminated by a food service worker who forgot to wash his hands once. It’s therefore important to place handwashing stations in the right places and stock them with enough hand soap and toilet paper. You should train your staff to wash their hands the correct way.
Food safety is largely dependent on personal hygiene. Uniforms, aprons, and even hair that is not covered can be contaminated. Good hygiene policies should include the following practices.
- Hair restraints– Food handlers are advised to wear clean hats (including beard restraints).
- Clean Uniforms– All uniforms, aprons, and other clothing should be cleaned. Store soiled uniforms and work aprons away from the food preparation areas.
- Jewellery – Jewelry should not be worn when handling food. It can harbor germs and accidentally fall in food. It is acceptable to use a plain wedding band.
- Eating & Drinking– Employees must never eat or consume beverages near food preparation areas. Liquids must be kept in a cup with a straw and a lid. The staff should be careful when handling the liquid and keep it far away from equipment, food, and utensils.
Every time an employee is sick, there’s a risk to your guests and employees. Be aware of certain pathogens known to spread foodborne illnesses in food service environments. If you have been sickened by one of the following pathogens, notify your manager immediately.
- Norovirus is highly contagious and spreads through food contact.
- Shigella species are often spread through unwashed or contaminated hands.
- Nontyphoidal Salmonella– commonly associated with poultry, eggs, and meat.
- E. E. coli is commonly associated with undercooked ground beef.
- Hepatitis A– Handwashing is best because this pathogen cannot be destroyed by cooking
- Salmonella Typhi is commonly associated with ready-to-eat foods.
The best way to protect yourself from these pathogens is by washing your hands and cooking food at the right temperature. It would help if you did not allow staff to work in your establishment until they have received written clearance from their doctor.
Disposable Gloves Use
When done correctly, wearing single-use disposable gloves can be an effective preventative measure. Gloves should only be worn after washing hands. Post reminders to your staff about when they should change their single-use gloves.
- When handling raw meat
- Please do not touch the food until it is ready to eat
- If your gloves are dirty or torn
- Before beginning a new task
- After 4 hours of continuous use
Proper food handling
The proper handling of food begins when you receive the shipment and continues up until your guests are served. Each step requires constant monitoring and strict controls. Foods that need special handling are (time temperature control for safety). They provide an environment that is more conducive to pathogen growth, particularly at certain temperatures. TCS foods should not be exposed to the danger zone. This is the range between 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
Receiving and Handling
Train your kitchen staff on food safety at all times, including during receiving, preparation, and cooking.
- Receiving– Check temperatures and inspect your food shipments. TCS food should be obtained and stored at the correct temperature. Arriving frozen foods must be solidly frozen. If you see ice crystals or water stains in the packaging, the food could have thawed while being transported. Reject foods that don’t meet the temperature requirements or seem to have been abused in terms of time and temperature.
- Cross-contamination Germs are spread not only by hands but also by contaminated food, tools, and equipment. Pathogens are left behind when raw foods, such as uncooked chicken, come into contact with prep surfaces. They can then contaminate food. Avoid cross-contamination using colored kitchen tools and cleaning after each use.
- Cooking food correctly – Cooking food to the right internal temperature is important in preventing the spread of pathogens. Unwashed hands can spread some pathogens, while others may be already present in food like beef and eggs. Fares must be cooked at a temperature that is safe and reliable to destroy germs.
Holding and storage
All food should be stored at a safe temperature.
- Food-holding is the practice that involves cooking food ahead of time and then storing it at a specific temperature. Hot-holding is the term used to describe a soup that has been made in advance and is stored in a soup warmer. Pathogens may grow dangerously if the temperature of the soup is in the danger zone. Foods that are kept hot or cold must be monitored regularly to ensure they don’t enter the danger zone.
- Proper cooling– Foods that are not properly cooled can also reach the danger zone. When hot dishes are made ahead of time and then placed in cold storage for later reheating, they need to be cooled down using a two-step process. The food must be cooled down from 135 degrees Fahrenheit (or 98 degrees Celsius) to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in two hours. Then, the food must be cooled down from 135 degrees Fahrenheit (or 98 degrees Celsius) to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (or 97 degrees Celsius) within 2 hours. The foods are not allowed to linger in the danger zone for too long.
- Food Storage– The way you store food affects the safety of your food. When storing foods, always remember first-in-first-out (FIFO). Keep the older food in front and the newer ones at the back. This will ensure that the oldest foods are used first. To prevent liquids from dripping onto the food below and contaminating it, TCS foods need to be placed in a specific order on cold storage shelves. From top to bottom, the correct order for storing foods is ready-to-eat, seafood, whole cuts beef and pork meat, ground fish and meat, and real or grounded poultry.
Cleaning and Sanitizing
There’s a common myth that sanitizing and cleaning are the same thing. Both methods are important for maintaining a safe kitchen. Cleaning removes dirt, debris, and pathogens from a kitchen surface. Sanitizing reduces the amount of pathogens.
How to clean and sanitize food contact surfaces
Surfaces that do not come into contact with foods only require a quick rinse. Food-contact surfaces, such as prep tables, equipment, and tools, must be cleaned and then sanitized. To clean and sanitize properly, follow these steps:
- Remove any food particles or crumbs by wiping the surface.
- Use a food-safe cleaner to clean the surface
- Rinse with clean water
- Sanitize surfaces with a sanitizing mix approved at the correct concentration
- Allow the surface to air-dry
Cleaning and sanitizing surfaces that come into contact with food must be done at the right time. Your staff should be trained to sanitize surfaces after completing a task or before preparing new food. If they’re interrupted during their work or have used the same surface continuously for four hours, they should stop and sanitize.
Cleaning and Sanitizing Equipment
Because of the moving parts, kitchen equipment can be more difficult to clean and disinfect than a surface such as a prep table. Refer to the instructions for the specific equipment you own when determining the best way to sanitize it. Use our general guidelines for sanitizing equipment:
- Unplug and turn off the equipment
- Remove any removable parts
- All parts can be washed by hand or in the dishwasher
- Remove any food debris from the equipment surfaces
- Rinse and then sanitize the equipment after cleaning it with a cleaner approved by the manufacturer.
- Allow parts and equipment to air-dry before reassembling.