3 Important Things to Consider in Your Food Safety Management
One of the reasons food safety is such a challenge in commercial and institutional foodservice operations is the fact there are so many different aspects to managing it. While cleaning, sanitizing, and refrigeration are all essential, operators must take a much broader approach and consider all aspects of food safety management.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these safety aspects to see how today’s operators can take a more comprehensive approach to food safety management.
Supplier and Ingredient Selection
Finding high-quality suppliers is crucial for foodservice establishments, even as supply chain challenges continue to put pressure on the industry. While it may be tempting to save money with cheaper alternatives, those ingredients may not be held to the same standards. In a worst-case scenario, food may arrive contaminated. If that happens, the business that served the food is held responsible, even if the supplier is technically to blame.
It’s also vital for operators to pay attention to the supply chain to monitor issues like recalls or food safety regulations. As the pandemic illustrated, supply chain elements can change at a moment’s notice, so operators must be adaptable. No matter what, though, it’s ultimately up to owners to verify the quality of each ingredient, as they’re the ones serving it to the customer.
Technology and Food Safety
Thankfully, high-tech devices make food safety much easier to manage. For example, cloud-connected thermometers can help operators keep track of temperature fluctuations over time. This data can show variations within a single shift or over a longer period, such as weekly or monthly.
High-tech devices are also much more energy-efficient. This means that elements like refrigerators and temperature sensors can help maintain optimal conditions to prevent the spread of germs. Best of all, operators can monitor these devices remotely, making it easier to keep tabs on the kitchen when they’re offsite.
Just as cleaning and temperature monitoring are essential, how owners and workers store ingredients is also critical. Everything from the bins used for different foods to how they’re packaged can affect food safety.
When organizing a walk-in or commercial refrigerator, it’s imperative to separate items based on type. For example, raw chicken should be stored on the bottom shelf, away from all other foods. Similarly, all raw ingredients should be kept away from ready-to-eat items to avoid cross-contamination. If necessary, color-coded bins and containers may make it easier for workers to maintain strict organization protocols.
Proper Shelving and Racking
Shelving is essential for a couple of reasons. First, it has to be sturdy enough to hold different ingredients, including heavy items like raw beef or canned beverages. Second, it must be easy to clean, particularly when spills or leaks occur. As a rule, flat surfaces are easiest for cleaning and can prevent spills from dripping onto foods on lower shelves.
Similarly, workers must be trained on proper storage techniques, such as putting raw ingredients below prepped items and implementing a FIFO-type system (first in, first out).
Packaging is crucial because it can help prevent the spread of disease. Loose packages allow ingredients to spill out, particularly for liquids or items with a lot of juice. So, operators must invest in high-quality packaging that maintains strict food safety standards. Vacuum sealing can work wonders, although it’s unsuitable for every item.
Also, when using a FIFO system, it’s imperative to mark each package as it goes into the cooler. Otherwise, it’s easy for items to get misplaced and rotated incorrectly, leading to waste.
Emergencies happen, and owners must have an action plan for when they do. Even something as simple as a power outage could lead to massive waste and food spoilage. Also, disasters don’t have to be widespread to affect a business. For example, employees must know what to do if the walk-in cooler breaks down and stops working.
While it’s unnecessary to develop action plans for all disaster scenarios (e.g., flooding, earthquakes, tornados, etc.), everyone should have a good idea of what to do when something occurs.
Overall, food safety requires constant vigilance and upkeep, so the more proactive operators are, the easier it is to manage these systems.
Learn more about food safety, as well as some foodservice equipment and supplies that can help operators, by visiting the Alto-Hartley showroom. We’ll also provide a 15 percent in-store discount!