No doubt you've heard about foodborne illness outbreaks, and you might be thinking, "How do I prevent that from happening to me?" Unfortunately there's no surefire way to make sure an outbreak never happens to you, but practicing proper food safety procedures in your business is a good start. Not only will you score big on your health inspector visits, but (more importantly) you'll keep guests and staff safe from harmful and potentially deadly diseases. Failure to make food safety a priority in your restaurant could risk your customer's health, your business investment and your reputation.
Ready to get started? Great! We'll walk you through notable food safety organizations and certifications, common signs and distinctions you've probably seen on equipment in your restaurant, and specific food safety equipment or supplies you should stock in your kitchen.
The first step in setting up a program in your business is becoming well acquainted with the governing bodies that oversee food safety. Many of these organizations have an abundance of free resources available to help get your business on track for success.
The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (or HACCP for short) is a type of management system that addresses food safety. First developed over 30 years ago by NASA specifically for "astronaut food," HACCP analyzes problem points in the production of food and develops ways to address the hazards at the source, rather than testing the final product for food borne illnesses.
HACCP is a good, effective way to ensure customer safety in your restaurant. Based on 7 principles, implementing a HACCP style of management system is an excellent way to set your business up for success.
You've probably seen the stickers on your equipment and know it's important to have them, but do you know what those certifications really mean? Represented by different organizations, these stickers designate that your equipment has undergone a series of tests to ensure safety level standard that deems the product is safe to use.
At Tundra Restaurant Supply, we sell a variety of supplies and equipment that will help you soar through health inspections and keep customers safe.
Temperature might just be your biggest ally when it comes to preventing foodborne illness. From storing your product in the walkin, to thawing and serving product to the masses, maintaining proper temperatures is key to limiting and slowing the growth of bacteria. No matter the manufacturer, it's important to frequently check and calibrate your thermometer for accuracy.
Color-coded cutting boards and utensils are your friend when it comes to preventing cross-contamination in the kitchen. Colors help designate what type of ingredient to use with that tool, ensuring that potentially harmful bacteria doesn't make its way into your dish and to the customer:
When working with sharp tools in the kitchen, injuries are bound to occur. While most chefs might slap a glove on and continue with service, others may not even take that step and continue on with what they're doing—creating a potential biohazard in your kitchen. You can, however, prevent a majority of injuries by keeping a few cut resistant gloves in the kitchen. You won't break the bank with these cut gloves, but you'll ensure that only the ingredients you want make it into your food.
In the food service industry, you can't go wrong with keeping a stock of disposable gloves, hair nets and beard covers on hand. These disposable items make it easy to keep hair and other unwanted materials out of your food, making it safe for people to eat. A must in most cafeterias, catering and other foodservice activities, these items are an easy way to prevent cross-contamination.
Countertop warmers and buffet servers keep food warm at the proper holding temperatures during service. To prevent bacteria growth and keep customers safe, food should be kept out of the danger zone (between 40° and 140°)—that means your hot dishes should be kept in equipment that can maintain a temperature of 140° or higher. You'll never know when the health inspector will schedule a visit, so make sure you're prepared.
A quick way to speed up bacteria growth on your food is to put hot food directly into the refrigerator or walkin without letting it cool first. Not only will you compromise your food, but you'll put the rest of the ingredients in your refrigerator at risk because your hot dish will raise the refrigerator's internal temperature. Plus, if food stays warm for too long, it can spoil too.
So what do you do? Try using a Rapi-Kool Cold Paddle from San Jamar to safely cool your food and reduce the amount of bacterial growth. Dishwasher safe and made of food-grade plastic, you'll cool down your soups and stock more quickly and safely.
Day labels are required by the FDA and are helpful, multi-colored safety stickers that indicate when sandwich meat was sliced up, or when someone loaded up a bin with fresh lettuce. When you take the guess work out of keeping your stock fresh, you'll never have to worry about expired ingredients. Day labels dissolve easily in water, making it easy to reuse the same container again. Often marked in both English and Spanish,
Part of keeping guests safe is practicing proper food storage. Make sure to date any product that's received and indicate a “use by" date to ensure freshness; trust us, it makes it much easier to practice food safety when you follow the “First in, first out (FIFO) method. And though it may seem like a no-brainer, make sure all food is stored at least six inches above the floor (a requirement by the FDA).
In addition, your food should be stored in a clean, dry location where it is not exposed to splash, dust or other contaminants. Meat should be stored on the lowest shelf possible to ensure that meat juices cannot drip and contaminate other food items. Also invest in air-tight containers (like these popular Camsquare Containers by Cambro); it will increase shelf life and protect your product from bacteria or infestations.
Test Strips and food sanitizers ensure you're eliminating all of the unwanted extras left behind on dirty countertops, dishware, etc. Test strips are simple, quick tests you can do to test the chlorine or ammonia levels in your cleaning solution—it will indicate whether or not your chemical mixture is correct (and doing its job). There are even test strips to show if the machine is reaching the NSF-approved final rinse temperature of 180° F. You'll soon find that properly cleaned dishes not only keep diners safe, but makes your food and drink taste better too.
San Jamar's Kleen-Pail® system makes it easy to keep cleaning and sanitizing solutions separate per HACCP dedicated-use guidelines. The color-coded system makes it easy to stay organized and follow proper safety protocols. Green Kleen-Pails® are used for cleaning solutions while Red Kleen-Pails® are used for sanitizing solutions; both Kleen-Pails® feature Trilingual (English/Spanish on the front, English/French on the back) printing that helps meet health codes and reinforces employee training.