Essential Guide to Ensuring Food Safety In Your Commercial Kitchen
Food safety is a paramount concern for foodservice establishments, customers, and public health organizations. One in six Americans experience food poisoning from foodborne illness each year, resulting in approximately 128,000 hospitalizations. To prevent harm to customers and to ensure an outstanding reputation and compliance with local regulations, foodservice establishments should continue to place a heavy focus on cleanliness and employee training.
To evaluate and improve food safety, restaurants and other foodservice businesses should consider its importance, review regulations, know how to spot hazards, and understand how to prevent food safety issues.
Importance of Food Safety in Commercial Kitchens
Because issues have the potential to affect many people when they happen in commercial kitchens, it’s crucial for foodservice workers to be aware of what can cause contamination. Salmonella, hepatitis, Norovirus, E. coli, and other viruses and bacteria are frequent offenders when it comes to foodborne illnesses.
Additionally, customers are more cognizant of food safety concerns since the COVID-19 pandemic. The above-mentioned contagions have caused hospitalizations and deaths, spelling the end of foodservice operations in some circumstances.
To prevent problems, restaurant management must understand regulations, including those set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition to cleanliness standards, the FDA promotes cleaning hands and surfaces, separating raw meat from other consumables, ensuring foods are cooked to the right temperature, and keeping menu items out of the food danger zone of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
The FDA also has standards known as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, or HAACP that involves testing and analyzing materials produced for consumption that need to be tracked on a regular basis. This creates a shared responsibility for communal food safety. Establishments must comply with inspections, follow food safety standards, and keep a clean, pest-free environment. Should a foodservice establishment not comply, they could be fined, put on public notice, or even shut down for public health violations. In addition to federal regulations, states and local jurisdictions may also have additional rules to comply with.
Identifying Common Food Safety Hazards
Common hazards can include physical hazards, such as foreign objects contaminating the food, or issues created by malfunctioning or ill-maintained equipment. During food preparation, biological hazards such as pathogens (a sick staff member sneezing on food) or cross-contamination (raw meat near vegetables) can enter the mix, creating problems.
Additionally, because foodservice workers work hard to ensure a clean environment, it’s possible to allow chemical hazards into food.
Lastly, it’s vital for any foodservice establishment to have plans and procedures in place for food allergies. This limits the possibility that customers will receive and consume items that lead to allergic reactions.
Implementing Effective Protocols
To prevent food safety issues, restaurant staff must commit to procedures on a regular basis. This includes handwashing and personal hygiene, sanitizing procedures, food handling, and temperature control. Maintaining and calibrating foodservice equipment can also prevent issues. Food preservation methods are also important in ensuring food safety.
Training, Education & Documentation
When addressing concerns, the foodservice establishment’s staff needs to work together. They also must receive the same exact training and refreshers. This involves committing to a culture of safety, even when it’s not legally required.
Part of ensuring compliance means keeping the appropriate food safety documentation, which should include training logs, training plans, HACCP plans and documentation, and details about any corrective actions taken once food safety concerns are spotted. This is typically done electronically and includes equipment maintenance logs.
Preventing Foodborne Illness Outbreaks
To promote a safe culture at a foodservice establishment, restaurant managers need to focus on preventing food safety problems. Identifying potential sources of contamination and making sure to tell staff when something is wrong are just the first steps. The manager should also emphasize communication plans and crisis management in the event of a food safety concern and provide details about how to handlethem. So, when something happens, everyone knows what to do and how to report a problem.
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!