Food Safety

Food Safety 101

Here’s your guide to the food safety supplies and equipment you need to ace your next health inspector visit and protect customers.

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.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a large, governing body responsible for protecting the public health and by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of our nation’s food supply and more. The FDA notifies the public and business owners when certain foods are recalled, or when outbreaks occur. Should an outbreak occur in one of your establishments, you’ll work closely with the organization to help pinpoint the root cause of the outbreak.
State and Local Health Departments
Laws vary from state to state (and even county to county), which makes it imperative for you to become very well acquainted with your state and local health departments. Not sure how to locate your health department? Visit the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) for a map to help you locate your health department. In some cases you can even acquire a copy of the form used to grade you on health inspection visits. Check in with your local health department and see if this is an option—there’s no better way to score an A on a test when you have a copy of everything you should be reviewing and taking action on.
What is Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)?

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.

HACCP 7 Principles
  1. Hazard Analysis
  2. Identify critical control points
  3. Establish critical limits for each critical control point
  4. Establish critical control point monitoring requirements
  5. Establish corrective actions
  6. Establish record keeping procedures
  7. Establish procedures for verifying the HACCP system is working as intended
Looking to implement a HACCP food safety program? For more information about these 7 HACCP principles and how to apply it to your restaurant, check out this blog post.
ServSafe®
ServSafe® refers to a certification program launched by the National Restaurant Association. In the ServSafe Food Safety Training Program, restaurateurs have access to a current and comprehensive list of education materials in the industry. The ServSafe® Food Protection Manager Certification Exam is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-Conference for Food Protection (CFP). Recognized by many federal, state and local jurisdictions, successful completion of the ServSafe® program is a great way to jumpstart your food safety efforts.

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.

NSF
NSF International (NSF)
NSF International (formerly known as the National Sanitation Foundation), or NSF for short, is an independent, non-profit organization that certifies the design and construction of food service equipment. In the 1990s, the NSF expanded its services to go beyond sanitation and into global markets. Many have come to recognize the NSF certification mark as a sign that the product complies with all standard requirements. Because NSF-approved items are typically guaranteed to be in compliance with local and state health departments, restaurants and other food service establishments look for NSF certified products to boost their inspection scores.
UL
Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
The Underwriters Laboratories (UL), is a global, independent safety consulting and certification company that has participated in the safety analysis of many of today’s new technologies. Focused mostly on restaurant equipment and electrical and gas safety standards, the UL certifies, validates, tests, inspects, audits, advises and trains. Restaurateurs have come to recognize the UL sticker as a sign that the equipment has met rigorous standards for soundness of design, electrical safety and structural integrity, making it safe for food service. You’ll find that UL tests for similar standards like the NSF International; as such, due to the cost and time requirements of testing, you may find many manufacturers may not opt for the NSF testing once they’ve received their UL certification.
CE
European Union (CE)
Originating as an abbreviation of Conformité Européenne, meaning European Conformity, the CE mark designates that the manufacturer claims compliance with the applicable health and safety standards defined in the EU legislation for its product. The CE certification is mandatory for products looking to sell in certain countries.
CSA
The CSA Group (CSA)
Formerly known as The Canadian Standards Association, The CSA Group tests and certifies products for safety and performance requirements. The CSA mark distinction, recognized by many government and code officials, regulatory and regulation bodies, clearly designates when products have passed a series of tests to ensure it meets safety standards.

At Tundra Restaurant Supply, we sell a variety of supplies and equipment that will help you soar through health inspections and keep customers safe.

Thermometers

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.

  • Inventory Check
    When your product arrives, be sure to gather a temperature reading before it even hits the shelves of your walkin. Use an infrared thermometer (like this FoodPro Thermometer by Comark) to get an accurate reading without piercing the surface of your product. If your thermometer is reading a temperature above 40°, don’t accept the shipment and have a few choice words with your supplier.
  • Equipment Check
    You should keep fridge thermometers in your walkin, pantry, refrigerator, freezer—basically anywhere you keep food stored. Unfortunately equipment is known to break on occasion, and you don’t want to inadvertently serve food that’s gone bad. On the other hand, what good is a thermometer if you don’t check it? Keep temperature logs. Not only will you need these for the inspector, but hopefully you’ll discover if something is broken before you have to throw away all that food; additionally, keeping a record of temperatures also proves useful as something to reference if an incident does occur with one of your patrons.
  • Cook and Kill Bacteria
    The most effective way to kill harmful bacteria is cooking food to a temperature of 140° or higher—and that goes for holding temperatures too. Plan a “bacteria-free buffet" (the FDA’s words, not ours) by keeping hot dishes at a temperature of 140° or higher, and cold dishes at 40° or colder; failure to do so might land your food within the “Danger Zone," (40° and 140° Fahrenheit where food poisoning causing bacteria proliferates). When you need to grab a temperature on the fly, we love this Digital Thermometer by Comark.

Color-Coded Kitchen Supplies

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:

  • Red = raw meat
  • Blue = raw fish
  • Yellow = raw poulty
  • Brown = cooked meat
  • Green = produce
  • White = dairy and bakery
  • Purple = allergen free

Cut Resistant Gloves

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.

Disposable Gloves

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

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.

Cooling Paddles

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

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,

Food Storage

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.

Food Sanitizers and Test Strips

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.

Sanitizer and Cleaning Buckets

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.

Food Safety 101