Best Practices for Restaurant Safety: Part 1
As restaurant workers know, the kitchen and the dining area can be a stressful and, at times, dangerous environment. From injuries in the kitchen to poor food handling practices, hazardous situations arise almost daily in the hospitality industry. This is why it is important for hospitality workers and business owners to abide by the best practices for restaurant safety.
Adhering to the best practices for restaurant safety, which are based on state regulated laws and safety codes, not only benefits workers, but also business owners. Business owners understand that accidents happen. Workplace injuries in the restaurant industry cost business owners time and money to compensate workers and replace equipment, and for loss of productivity.
Injuries also impact workers, not only physically but also financially, for loss of income and higher insurance premiums. To ensure safe restaurant practices, knowledge and training are the best methods. So, to help you avoid accidents and injuries in your establishment, here is a brief outline of the best practices for restaurant safety.
Food Handling and Storage
Every year millions of people contract foodborne illnesses, and one of the major contributing factors to foodborne illness is improper food handling and storage. The kitchen is full of foodstuffs, many of which have specific ways in which they need to be handled to be kept within limits for safe consumption. Here are a few tips to help you handle and store your foodstuffs safely:
- Wash your hands often with warm water and soap for at least 30 seconds before and after handling food.
- Do not handle ready-to-eat food with bare hands. Always wear gloves, and change them often to avoid cross-contamination.
- Keep food preparation surfaces clean and sanitized, especially between preparations.
- Always refrigerate or freeze perishable food within a 2-hour timeframe to prevent bacterial growth. Ensure your refrigerator has a constant temperature below 40F and your freezer has a constant temperature below 0F.
- If you need to cook meat or poultry before storing, do so within 2 – 3 days of purchase. Do not store cooked products close to raw products.
- Wrap meat and poultry securely before storing to prevent juices for contaminating other food. Marinated meats should be covered and kept in the refrigerator until needed.
- Cooking temperatures for different meats and proteins vary. Here are the minimum internal temperatures for some popular protein sources, as measured by a meat thermometer, and before removing it from the heat source.
- Beef, pork, lamb, and veal should be cooked to 145F
- Chicken and other poultry should be cooked to 165F
- Ground meats should be cooked to 160F
- When serving food, hot food should be kept at a temperature of 140F or higher, and cold food at a temperature of 40F or lower.
Cleaning equipment regularly prevents cross-contamination of food and reduces bacterial growth, but equipment also needs to be sanitized to prevent pathogens from spreading foodborne illnesses.
- Clean and sanitize work surfaces regularly with non-toxic products that are kept easily accessible to workers. This also included high-touch areas in front of the user, such as cash registers, computer screens, door handles, condiment containers, and menus.
- Train your workers how to properly sanitize equipment, as some equipment requires specific cleaning procedures and products.
- Use color-coded equipment, such as chopping boards, for the preparation of different foods. For example, green equipment and utensils for fruits and vegetables, and red for red meats.
Restaurant workers, both in the kitchen and the front-of-house, are always near the food their customers eat, so it is important for them to maintain high standards of personal hygiene always. This includes:
- Frequently wash hands with soap and warm water, and nails should be kept clean and trimmed to avoid breakage.
- Wear gloves when necessary.
- Long hair should be tied back, and facial hair covered or trimmed short.
- Do not come to work when you are sick. This can be difficult for hospitality workers who rely on an hourly wage for their income. However, working while ill increases the risk of spreading the disease and may make workers’ symptoms worsen.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the second part of this article that aims to protect you and your employees from slips, trips, falls, burns, and cuts!