Food Safety Guidelines: Keeping Your Restaurant and it’s Customers Safe from Foodborne Illness

Our latest blog series is inspired by National Food Safety month and will examine multiple aspects of food safety. From food safety basics to customers with special diets, we’ll look at ways to keep your kitchen clean, your employees knowledgeable, and your customers safe.

Food safety is important in every kitchen. From the family kitchen in your home, to the caterer on site, to the commercial kitchen at your restaurant, food safety should never be overlooked. Not only can foodborne illness put a kink in your business, it can be costly for your restaurant if you are found to be at fault for any illness that results from improperly stored or handled food. There are many different sources to find food safety information, or even become certified in food safety basics – investments more than worth any expense. In this post, we’ll look at the four most basic tenets of food safety, and then discuss food safety standards nationwide and how they can effect your business.

FoodSafety.org recognizes four steps to basic food safety: clean, separate, cook, and chill. These basic steps should be observed at all times. Start by cleaning not only your hands, but any surfaces and utensils that will be used during food preparation. Separate meat, poultry, and eggs from all other items in your kitchen. Proper food separation should be observed during storage and preparation to prevent cross contamination. This means certain food groups, like meats and veggies, should never share a cutting board or knife during food preparation. Next, be sure to cook the food to a safe temperature, using reliable methods, like a thermometer, to check the food’s temperature during the cooking process. Although customers may request a rare steak, your restaurant is never obligated to serve something that is deemed unsafe or that management does not feel comfortable serving. Decide what cooking temperatures you are comfortable offering, and only serve meats at those temperatures. Finally, store foods properly. Defrosting foods should never be left at room temperature, and should instead be placed in a refrigerator or hot water bath to thaw safely and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

The basic food rules put forth by FoodSafety.org are a great starting point, but there are mandated food safety standards which contain guidelines and restrictions that require restaurants to meet specific criteria. These standards vary from state to state, and sometimes county to county. For example, Pennsylvania Food Safety Requirements state that, “One certified food protection manager required per facility and accessible at all times during facility operation hours.” Ignorance is not an excuse to break the standards and could result in fines or temporary shut downs, both costly punishments. To learn more about your state’s Food Safety Requirements, click here. Food safety certification can be attained through the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe program, which offers both Manager training and Employee/Food Handler training for a fee. Classes like these teach employees food handling basics, and teach managers to recognize and act on unsafe food practices within the business.

Consider the backlash of a potential food safety issues on your business. Every penny spent on educating managers and employees about proper food handling, storage, and preparation is worth the investment to keep your customers healthy, your food safe, and your restaurant profitable.

Resources

Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill image from FoodSafety.org. To learn more about food safety basics, visit http://www.foodsafety.gov/index.html.

For more information on ServSafe certification and regulatory standards, visit http://www.servsafe.com/home.aspx.

 

Written by Teresa Glasgow, Technical Writing Specialist, Future POS, Inc.