Maintaining safe restaurant practices is a high priority for food service providers. Restaurants have to go through many steps to retain safe food handling practices and prevent any safety hazards in order to protect their employees and customers. There are different food preparation, storage, and protection techniques that must be used in order to maintain safe restaurant practices. In this blog post, we will discuss how restaurants can avoid cross-contamination and food-borne illnesses when preparing foods, as well as the importance of having proper kitchen ventilation systems installed for safe working conditions.
Food safety standards
There are many safe food preparation techniques that tackle high-touch surfaces to keep safe restaurant practices. One of the most important is preventing any type of cross-contamination from happening, which can lead to food poisoning or allergies if not handled properly.
Counter surfaces should always be cleaned in safe restaurant practices to avoid cross-contamination. It's important that all staff follow safe food handling procedures by washing their hands after touching raw meats, touching dirty surfaces, eating, and smoking during the workday; it will help to prevent any type of contamination from spreading throughout the restaurant. Also, ensure that staff are using tools to handle food, such as tongs, spatulas, and gloves throughout the cooking process.
Replace any cloth towels that are no longer clean with new ones for safe restaurant practices. Dish towels should be washed in a washing machine on the hottest setting possible so they're sanitized before each use , as the hot water helps remove dangerous bacteria.
As recommended by the FDA and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention:
For safe restaurant practices, it's important to always wear hairnets when preparing food, also facial nets if needed. Even if the kitchen staff are wearing a different style of headgear such as hats or berets, they should have their hair pulled back and secured with a sanitary hairnet for safe working conditions. It is also important to avoid touching the face while handling food and cleaning procedures.
Kitchens get hot and humid during the day, which can lead to safe restaurant practices being compromised. With proper ventilation systems in place, kitchens will be a more comfortable temperature for everyone working there, and will avoid sweat from becoming an inconvenience to the food you're serving.
High-touch surfaces need to be regularly maintained and disinfected with EPA-registered products.
Always ensure safe restaurant practices are being followed and food is safe to eat before serving it. Restaurants should always be following a safe, set-way of dish washing in order for them to maintain safe restaurant practices. As recommended by the FDA for safe dish-washing, always use a designated area for dish washing, with at least 60% alcohol- based based sanitizers nearby, heavy duty soap and detergents, and of course regularly washed sponges and rags to ensure a clean towel is always available at arms reach.
Note: Cloths used to wash restaurant seating arrangements need to be solely used for this purpose and should be stored in chlorine sanitizing solution, more specifically at 100 mg per litre. Make sure they are free of any debris or food, if they are, make sure they reach the laundry as soon as possible.
The dishwasher must also wear clothes that are clean or they won't perform their duties effectively; it's safe restaurant practices to always provide dishwashing staff with aprons, hairnets, and gloves. In addition, the dishwasher should wash their hands with soapy water before starting work on any dirty dishes.
A commercial dishwasher or a three sink process can ensure dishes are properly washed, rinsed, and sanitized. Ensure that there is access to both cold running water and hot running water, and make any soaps and detergents readily fillable if needed. Find an appropriate time frame to wash in-house equipment such as tongs, spatulas, knives, etc. to reduce the wear and tear, and the life span of your restaurant equipment. This also ensures that equipment is easy to manipulate and promotes more efficient working conditions.
Staff with any symptoms of sickness should not prepare any food until they have fully recovered and are feeling safe to do so. This is because when sick food workers are present, they may not be able to distinguish the safety of foods, and of course, they can spread bacteria to other coworkers as well as the food being prepared and served. If there is no other choice to have them working, making them wear a mask while preparing food and coming into contact with other food service workers.
Cooking protection equipment should be used when working with any types of foods- especially if they are raw or contain hazardous substances such as oils that can cause fires. The safe food handling equipment should always be used in the right way, like gloves that are heavy duty and not easy to puncture.
The type of cooking protection equipment being used is important for safe food preparation. Handling raw meat with bare hands can lead to cross contamination and it's best to use gloves when in contact with any raw foods, if they're available. If there are no cooking tools or utensils available, then the safe food handling surface should be sanitized with antibacterial soap.
It's best to have separate equipment for different types of foods and ingredients so they don't come into contact with one another. For example, if a food handler is working on raw meat and then moves over to preparing vegetables or other foods without washing their hands properly first, bacteria from the raw meat could travel onto those safe handling surfaces and develop a foodborne illness outbreak.
Tips for efficient equipment handling:
- Designate a separate cutting board, blender, and fryer for specific food items
- Install deep sinks and dish drying stations / racks for easy dishwashing
- Set specific work stations for specific foods
- Buy and calibrate several food thermometers for ease of use of kitchen appliances and between staff
- Provide clean uniforms for kitchen staff every day
The first rule in the kitchen is to only allow those working within to enter it, any unauthorized people should refrain from the food preparation zones to prevent contamination. Ensure that staff passing through these zones have clean clothes and do not touch any surfaces involved in the service of food.
Note: Staff working with ready-to-eat food should wear protective gloves and use equipment to suit their food preparation needs. They should refrain from touching anything with their bare hands, as there can be serious injury if working with boiling oil or grills, and can be a violation of health codes.
When preparing any type of food, always remember that all raw fruits and vegetables should be washed before use. Fruits and vegetables can contain bacteria from dirt or bugs which can contaminate other types of foods they come into contact with. When handling canned foods, always wash the can before opening and ensure proper disposal to avoid potential hazards with cuts or puncture holes in bags.
Make sure that any animal meats are properly cooked. Raw animal meats such as, fish, beef, and poultry, often contain bacteria that can contaminate safe food handling surfaces. If there are any raw, unfrozen items in the kitchen, make sure they're stored at a safe temperature to prevent bacterial growth and food poisoning.
Temperature control is important for safe restaurant practices because foods should always be kept safe and cold/hot until ready to serve. If any high-touch surfaces get too hot or cold due to improper temperature control, they may need changing out so that safe restaurant practices are maintained. It's important to never let safe food handling surfaces get too hot, as this can cause bacteria growth and can lead to cross-contamination.
Do not serve room-temperature food to customers, as bacteria can grow at room temperature. Cold food should remain in refrigeration and hot food should remain at high heat. Food that is between 40°F and 140°F (4.44°C and 60°C) are considered the "danger zone", where food bacteria and potential food poisoning takes place. Worse yet, anything between 70°F and 125°F (21°C and 51.67°C) develops bacteria even more quickly because this is considered to be a range of room temperatures. If an item reaches any of these temperatures and remains this way for longer periods of time, more bacteria will accumulate.
Note: Food should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours, especially if you are working with buffet tables that have more bacteria exposure. Having heat retaining containers (food pan carrier, catering bag) and ice-chilled containers (coolers, ice buckets) can help retain the food's taste and safety for customers. However, you need to make sure they are discarded and that any leftovers being kept aside for customers are kept hot / cold to ensure freshness and customer satisfaction.
Ensuring proper temperatures starts with a food thermometer with a range of 0°F to 220°F (-17.78°C to 104.44°C) and placing foods within proper conditions such as, in refrigerators, freezers, warming trays, slow cookers, and heat retaining dish-ware.
As recommended, anything on the highest shelf should hold ready-to-eat foods. On the second shelf until the fifth shelf there is an increase in 10°F (12.22°C), starting from 135°F (57.22°C) working your way downwards to the bottom shelf at 165°F (73.89°C) foods.
When serving food either as a caterer or in the backroom of the restaurant, always ensure that the food within a container is completed before replacing the contents with any newly cooked food. This is because serving trays get contaminated over time with customers or staff handling the food. You can reduce the amount of contamination and retain temperature control by placing lids and covering food when not in use. You can also make sure the food temperature is evenly distributed with frequent stirring motions.
It also makes sure that the older food is being eaten first and the new food can offer the same quality as the first portion that was served. Additionally, bacteria can seep into food slowly reaching room temperature, therefore if safe restaurant food handling practices are being followed, it will be safe to serve.
Discarding the right food comes with experience. Generally, safe restaurant practices includes not using any food that has been prepared or displayed for more than two hours. However, with experience comes learning what is safe to consume and how long certain foods can be served without impacting the taste and safety of it.
The TCS food stands for "time/temperature control for safety" which is a program created by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) that verifies safe food handling procedures, safe working conditions, proper temperature controls, and more. When looking at restaurants through this lens it is important to make sure safe food handling practices are being followed.
The most crucial part of safe restaurant practices is not letting any high-touch surfaces get too hot or cold due to improper temperature control, as this can lead bacteria growth and cross-contamination. This essentially impacts TCS foods the most, since they are high-risk If the proper temperatures aren't met, then that's when TCS foods will step in for safe food preparation and storage.
Some examples of TCS foods are:
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, salad dressing, yogurt, ice-cream)
- Animal meats and vegetarian alternatives (poultry, beef, fish, pork, tofu, soy protein)
- Shells (eggs, crustaceans, mollusks)
- Potatoes (raw, baked)
- Cooked and/or sliced fruits and vegetables (rice, tomatoes, melons, leafy greens, beans)
- Bean sprouts and seeds
- Untreated garlic-and-oil mixtures
Storing any type of raw meat in an area where cooked foods are can lead to cross- contamination because bacteria from one contaminates another leading it unsafe to eat. To prevent safe restaurant practices from being broken, store raw meat in a different area than cooked food and at the correct internal temperature to avoid bacteria growth.
When it comes to storage, we're not only talking about restaurant equipment and food, we're also talking about personal items. Anything that is staff's coats, boots, shoes, bags, should have a dedicated zone away from the main restaurant preparation and service zones. This will not only ensure theft does not occur, it will also reduce contact with food and ensure clean equipment on the premises.
Advanced tips: Cooking and Cooling temperatures
Proper cooking temperatures are crucial for safe restaurant practices and preventing bacteria such as salmonella, listeria, norovirus, staph, campylobacter, etc. If the ovens in your kitchen go over 400 degrees Fahrenheit or under 140 degree Farenheit then you're risking unsafe food handling practices which can lead to bacterial contamination. The only time this is okay if it's cooked properly and monitored with a timer as well as proper food temperature control.
The safe cooking temperatures for beef, pork, poultry products, and lamb can be cooked at 350°F or 120°F (176°C or 48.89°C) while other meats should cook on the lower end with only 325°F or 160°F (162.78°C or 71.11°C).
The safe food handling practice for eggs it to cook them in an oven set between 325 and 400°F (162.78°C and 204.44°C) so they're safe from being contaminated by bacteria. After you've cooked your egg it's important to allow the safe restaurant practices to cool them down before you serve them.
After your meat is cooked and removed from it's heat source, moisture is released from it's muscle fibres. Letting it rest is recommended since it lets the water distribute evenly throughout the meat once again making it tender, and resting also permits water to evaporate from the meat at a slow pace. However, make sure you cover the cooked meat with foil, as this will ensure the water retains it's heat and evenly distributes its moisture. By prematurely cutting the meat and not covering it, the moisture will rapidly release, leaving your meat dry.
Cooking temperature recommendations:
- 165°F (73.89°C): any TCS food, stuffed foods (pepper, pasta, seafood, meat, poultry).
- 155°F (68.33°C): ground meat, tenderized meat, seasoned meats chopped seafood.
- 145°F (62.78°C): seafood, eggs, commercially raised game, steak / chops, roasts.
- 135°F (57.22°C): grains (pasta, noodles, rice), fruits, vegetables, legumes.
Resting time recommendations:
- 30 minutes: beef, lamb, pork
- 15-30 minutes: poultry and game birds
- 15 minutes: other meats
- 5 to 7 minutes: in a rush
Note: 5 minutes resting time should be allocate per inch of meat thickness
Cooling hot foods
It's important to cool hot food down quickly and safely. Never place hot foods on a gas stove to cool down, as this generates heat that will dry out your food. Put it on a rack so that air can circulate all around it and not come in contact with other foods. However, hot foods should not sit out for more than two hours before being put into refrigeration or a freezer.
Avoiding the 2 hour mark comes with making a few adjustments to the cool-down process.
- Avoid placing hot food in your refrigerator / freezer as this will not retain the temperature setting you have set, and essentially raises the ambient temperature which may cause other foods to reach the danger zone.
- Find shallow containers to cool down your food, as this will let it cool down more quickly and more evenly.
- Spread the food out as flat as possible and avoid storing them in containers made with heat retention materials (steel).
- Do not put hot food into a container with cold water or ice. If you want your food cooled quickly then use an ice bath for quick cooling time. If you're going to use ice, it should be 40°F (4.44°C) or colder.
- Consider using a cooling paddle to cool down liquid foods and a commercial blast chiller for solid foods.
- Make sure the food is wrapped up tightly before putting them into a cooler with ice for safe cooling procedures and safe food handling practices.
It's safe to thaw food in the refrigerator and not on a countertop, as this will help you avoid harmful bacteria growth, since the temperature is at least 40°F (4.44°C) and colder. It's also safe to fully submerge meat products (chicken, beef) into cold water for safe thawing procedures until they're either cooked or can be properly refrigerated for proper food safety.
Do not reheat leftovers in the microwave! Microwaves are not designed to heat up foods evenly; it's more likely that leftovers will be undercooked or overcooked when using a microwave. Often times they don't reach safe food handling temperatures.
There are safe reheating practices in place for meat, poultry and fish. For safe food handling practices you should use the following depending on which food you are reheating:
- Use a commercial oven set between 350°F (177.78°C) and 400°F (204.44°C).
- Cook until it's safe to eat by cooking at 165°F (73.89°C).
- Cook until safe to eat and then place into a 400°F oven for an additional three minutes or so, reaching a safe internal temperature of 160°F (71.11°C).
If you or your staff plan on eating some leftovers, make sure you remember when the item was placed for refrigeration. If you plan to eat the leftovers within three days of refrigeration, then it's safe. If the leftover food is going to be eaten later than three days after being placed in a refrigerator (four or more) and will not have been frozen at any point during that time period, then consider freezing them for safe thawing procedures.
A pre-prepared meal is only good for about a week after it has been made, however this is not true for salads. Salads should be safe for about three days, but if a salad has been sitting out for more than one day it's time to toss them.
When reheating, consult the previous recommendations. However, slow cookers aren't recommended for reheating leftovers as these devices may not heat foods hot enough to kill harmful bacteria, and of course will need ample time to reheat the food you want to consume.
Lastly, do not refrigerate leftovers that have been reheated, toss the remainders.
Food quality complaints
When customers have complaints about food quality, safe restaurant practices should be reevaluated. Communicate with the customer and try to resolve the complaint in a timely manner that's acceptable for everyone involved.
Make sure employees are following safe restaurant practices or your company might face possible legal consequences.
If there is an issue of unsafe foods being served, try issuing a food recall or consulting a professional to find the root of the problem.
Pests are unwanted pests that come from rodents to flies. They're often found in places where they can't be seen, which is why safe restaurant practices must be followed during food preparation and service.
Restaurants that have pests or rodents should take a proactive approach to prevent these issues from being an ongoing problem. You'll need to identify the source of your pest infestation, as well as pesticides and other methods of extermination. This may be an infrastructure problem, a ventilation problem, a sanitation problem, or a food handling problem.
If there isn't safe restaurant practices being practiced, then the product or place might not pass inspection; and if it doesn't pass inspection then you could cause a lot of damage to your business. A restaurant could prevent future pest issues by assessing current infrastructures and resource problems and addressing them accordingly while also taking care to monitor staff at all stages of food preparation from cooking through final service, to ensure compliance with local guidelines for safe food handling.
When a safe food handling issue is discovered at your establishment, the responsible party should take corrective action immediately to correct it if possible or to prevent further problems from arising. For instance, they might need to discard any food that's at risk and safe restaurant practices might need to be updated.
Conduct a product recall on all your inventory and dedicate a a few hours with appropriate staff to remove food contents with contaminants. If you are purchasing this product from another company, contact the offending party to halt any shipment of the tainted food and request their cooperation.
If it can't be immediately fixed, then the responsible party should take steps to recall food issues as soon as possible by ceasing sales of any affected products for instance; or they could even do a voluntary product withdrawal from sale. Reporting it can also reduce potential risks to other restaurants as well.
To find out which foods are safe to use, research ingredients online and talk with food suppliers. Make sure you are updated on the latest news about food to avoid using a food on recall in your restaurant.
Preventing allergic reactions
Food allergy is an adverse immune response that occurs in sensititized individuals after exposure to specific foods or other substances known as allergens.
When safe restaurant practices are not followed, it can lead to food allergies. If the staff is cooking with their bare hands or using utensils that have been used for other dishes, then they could transfer contaminants between foods which could cause an allergic reaction in someone who was previously exposed to this food.
Tips to reduce allergen exposure in the kitchen:
- Always have waiters ask each customer if they have allergies or intolerances to anything and communicate this to every person in the food handling portion of the restaurant.
Note: Some customers may forget to advise staff on allergies, therefore it is always encouraged for staff to ask customers instead and double check with parents if you are asking children.
- Educate staff on the most common allergies such as peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, fish and shellfish, soy, and wheat.
- Make sure the above foods are prepared with caution and ensure utensils, containers, and storage regions coming into contact with them are thoroughly washed and served separately from foods with less risk.
Note: If you can, try serving foods in buffets in sections. Most people will hesitate if they see any allergens next to other food options. Be attentive and evaluate your setup. Make sure that any surface / countertop coming into contact with allergens are frequently monitored and sanitized.
- Have warning labels on the menu next to foods with potential allergens, either using a symbol or highlighting them in a different color. Always ensure they are noticeable in the ingredient list to your customers.
- Offer single-use items (straws, utensils, napkins) for those weary of using cutlery in a restaurant that serves many allergen-prone meals.
- Do not prepare or serve food with cutlery that has come into contact with allergens.
Delivery and food for pick-up
When it comes to safe food handling practices, delivery and pick-up foods that have been placed in temperatures below 140°F (60.00°C) should be safe until they are received by the customer or picked up by a restaurant associate.
If the food is going to be delivered or picked up in less than two hours, it can stay out of refrigeration without a problem. However, if the safe handling practices are not followed and an item has been left outside for more than thirty minutes before being delivered or picked up then there's a good chance that bacteria will grow on the food, making it unsafe.
- Transport containers / coolers must be sanitized after every use to avoid cross- contamination and unsafe temperatures.
- Place food in sealed containers (higher quality packaging) to avoid spilling and rapid cooling or heating of food.
- Dedicate a region in your restaurant for those delivering or picking up food to avoid crowding and possible cross-contamination of food.
- Food packaging should be made of the least synthetic materials possible to ensure no toxins enter the food (usually more common with hot temperatures) and ensure no extra materials are being wasted per customer by choosing the right size containers.
- Offer sealed utensils and clean napkins (free of food residue)
- Ensure the containers holding hot temperatures can withstand the heat and prevent customers from being injured as a result.
Managing food: The mobile restaurant
When managing food trucks, safe food handling practices are very important.
- Always keep your food as cold as possible to prevent the possibility of spoilage or contamination.
- Grilling is allowed if you have a HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) plan in place that can demonstrate how safe restaurant practices were followed. HACCP is scientifically proven to ensure the safety of your restaurant and the proper handling of food.
- If you cook inside on a stove, then make sure it has been inspected by an approved inspector for safety sake.
- Have a working station dedicated for food preparation, for food cooking, and for the cash to prevent any contaminants from distributing.
- Have proper ventilation and find trucks with sliding windows with screens to reduce food contamination.
Food safety training / certification
Obtain a food safety training certificate before opening your restaurant in order to educate yourself on how best to protect your staff and your customers from germs. Proper education can help improve on-site practices and the representation of your restaurant to both restaurant staff and customers.
When obtaining a certificate, it is crucial to have it nearby for health inspectors to consult and review. Certifications are important for safe restaurant practices because they'll reflect that the restaurant is up to date on their safe food preparation techniques. This includes all health department standards, such as having a clean kitchen environment, properly storing foods at safe temperatures, and training staff in safe food handling practices.
Certifications are also important in that they can show a safe restaurant practices commitment to public health and safety, as well as help with employee retention rates by ensuring safe working conditions for all staff members.
If you don't have safe food handling practices in place, then not only are foods at risk for contamination but the restaurant staff and people eating there could be too.
It's best to find a local food safety training course like the ServSafe food handler certification. Once you obtain this certificate for safe restaurant practices, your staff will be well informed on safe and healthy working conditions to help combat food hazards. This certificate is valid for three years.
Other food safety training courses are:
- ServSafe food handler certification – Serving it safe
- Food HACCP Certification Online Course – reducing hazards in food supply
- Academy of Applied Pharmaceutical Sciences
- SafeCheck® Advanced Food Safety
- Canadian Institute of Food Safety FoodPrep Inc. – Food Handler Certification
- In Good Hands – Thunder Bay District Health Unit
- InstaCert – Food Handler Certification
- Knowledgeware - Food Safety for Food Handlers
- LeanRhino Food Safety Leaders Managing Food Safety
- Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)
- ServeWell – Food Handler Course
- Train Food Safety - Food Handler Certification Course
- Student entering in a non-profit organization (most often no fees)
- Student entering in a Culinary Arts Program (most often no fees)
- Limited food handler's certificate (consult with your inspector)
What's a certified food protection manager?
A food protection manager is a certified individual who has the knowledge and skills to help make safe food preparation practices for retail establishments. They have gone through extensive training, including safe restaurant practices, as well as understanding of microbiology, chemical hazards in foods, legal aspects of safety laws on safe restaurant practices. The certification also requires an established food service experience, including safe food handling practices.
The National Environmental Health Association has a certification program for food protection managers that includes safe restaurant practices training, such as understanding how to prevent and control hazards throughout all stages of the food preparation process. This helps protect both employees and customers from any health risks associated with unsafe foods or poor safety practices.
Temporary food permits
If you're a food service establishment that needs to serve safe food temporarily, such as for an event provided with catering / food trucks, or throughout a construction / renovation, then it's important for you to understand the temporary food permit.
A designated representative from this establishment should complete an application form requesting authorization for operation under a Temporary Restaurant Permit; additionally they'll need to submit a copy of the Temporary Restaurant Permit.
They must also provide documentation that shows safe restaurant practices have been maintained and followed during operation under a Temporary Restaurant permit, such as safe food handling certificates or other proof of safe food preparation. The Food Protection Manager will need to ensure safe restaurant practices are being practiced in order for you to be granted safe restaurant practices.
The permit is only valid for a limited time, and must be renewed if your temporary restaurant status still applies after the expiration date of your current Temporary Food Permit.
Federal regulatory systems
Food safety regulations are set by the government to protect safe restaurant practices. They ensure that food is safe for consumption and safe restaurant practices are being followed.
In Canada, there are specific laws in place which require food handlers to wash their hands often and provide or prepare a variety of foods at different temperatures (40 ˚C/104 ˚F to 60 ˚C/140 ˚F).
The Canadian Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) outlines safe food handling practices and safe restaurant practices. The SFCR is enforced by the Canada Agriculture and Agri-Foods at a National Level, in partnership with provincial / territorial governments.
In the United States, the FDA has something called the safe food handling regulation which outlines safe restaurant practices. With safe restaurant practices, they focus on food safety at all levels such as:
- Overseeing safe restaurant practices by ensuring safe food handling and safe restaurant practices are being followed.
- Monitoring allergens to make sure food is safely handled for consumption.
- Mandating certain processes that must be done with food (ex. hands touching surfaces and then food).
In both countries, it is mandatory to wash hands and surfaces often in order to reduce bacteria (and ensure safe cooking protection equipment are functioning). It's also essential that staff are trained on how to handle food properly as well as having a regular routine for checking temperatures of food products.
In addition, provinces / states have their own food regulation systems which are useful to check out, all depending on the location of your restaurant.
Some restaurant trade associations in Canada are:
- Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) which is for foodservice management professionals.
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is the federal agency responsible for safe and accessible food in Canada.
- Food Safety Association of Nova Scotia
- Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association
- British Columbia Hospitality Industry Service Centre Society
- The Canadian Barbecue Producers Association (CBPA) focuses on BBQs, smokers, offset or direct grills.
Some restaurant trade associations in the United States are:
- National Restaurant Association - an industry trade association for foodservice management professionals.
- International Association of Concessionaires - an industry trade association representing owners and operators in the concessionaire business, including restaurants, recreational facilities and sporting events.
- National Alliance For Hispanic Health (NACHH) - a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health status of Hispanics by reducing disease risk through education and advocacy.
- National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF) - is a nonprofit organization that provides workforce development and training programs to foodservice professionals through the National Restaurant Association's Culinary Institute of America, including hospitality skills, safe food handling practices and sanitation certification courses for managers and employees.
Practices that cause food safety risks
Restaurant staff are often preoccupied with performance and speed in the kitchen, however the most important step that many may lose focus on is food safety. There are a few common practices that may be influencing the restaurant environment and essentially causing food to go bad. Below is a brief list of the most common and detrimental ones (that may not always be controllable).
- An underperforming staff with no prior training or basic knowledge of food-handling practices.
- Rush orders or high-traffic influencing a lack of time for effectively practicing safe food-handling practices.
- A lack of enforcement or guidelines for staff to follow safe food-handling throughout their shifts.
- No budget to improve major changes needed to meet restaurant food safety.
- No discipline or consequences made if food-handling is done incorrectly.
- A strong priority for income over food quality.
- A lack of responsibility over inspection reports.
Restaurants have to go through many steps to retain safety precautions and practice safe food handling practices. Anything from restaurant cleanliness, restaurant safety hazards, cooking protection equipment, certifications, temperature control, preventing allergic reactions and avoiding cross-contamination, safe food preparation, food storage, and storage maximizing. Yet, once a protocol is established the hard work will become routine, and benefit you more than you might think.
Food safety is a priority for every restaurant, and it's important to know how safe food handling practices are followed in order to maintain safe restaurant practices. Reaching out for help either to other restaurants, online or in-person training, hiring extra staff, or hiring inspectors can set you on the right path. The answers are there, however taking the responsibility to apply them to your restaurant will not only improve your food quality, but improve the working environment overall, and your customer satisfaction.