Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

As a restauranteur, food safety must be part of your core values. Good food hygiene ensures that your food is safe to eat so guests don’t contract a food-borne virus and shut down your dream. Food safety and sanitation are a legal requirement, but they also help your restaurant establish a good reputation.

Taking the plunge can feel overwhelming, but we’ve got your back. Here are eight safety and sanitation tips to prevent any hiccups.

1. Prevent Cross-Contamination

If you wonder “what is the best way to ensure food safety at a food facility?”, the HACCP is a great place to start.

HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) is internationally recognized for reducing the risks of safety hazards in foods during specific points in the process, from conducting a hazard analysis to identifying critical control points. These benefits will reduce any potential health risks, such as cross-contamination.

Cross-contamination occurs when harmful bacteria or microorganisms transfer from one object to another. The results can be dangerous to unaware consumers.

Raw meat, seafood, poultry, and eggs can be the source of deadly bacteria such as salmonella. To avoid a catastrophe, ensure there are separate chopping boards and cutlery for each food group. For example, only use a red chopping board when handling raw meat to avoid cross-contamination.

2. Personal Hygiene

Food sanitation rules are paramount in the kitchen. Ensure your staff is following a strict dress code so the workspace remains sterile and no food gets contaminated.

Staff must:

  • Wear suitable clothing including gloves, hair covering, and closed-toe footwear
  • Not touch ready-to-eat food with bare hands
  • Cover hair
  • Not wear watches or jewelry
  • Not touch face or hair when handling food
  • Wash hands after handling raw meat or waste or going to the toilet
  • Not handle food when ill (e.g. diarrhea or vomiting)

Upholding good personal hygiene will vastly improve food safety and sanitation standards and is good practice for when the health inspector visits.

3. Keeping Food out of the “Danger Zone”

The “danger zone” for food falls between 41 and 135 degrees. Meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy must be stored either above or below the danger zone to prevent contamination.

Store cold foods below 41 degrees and hot foods at 140 degrees or above. As a general rule, temperature-sensitive foods must not stay in the danger zone for over 2 hours otherwise bacteria can grow and spread.

Keep daily temperature logs to stay organized. Ask employees to take the temperature of foods at specific intervals (e.g. upon arrival) and make record-keeping part of their routine.

4. Use Proper Sanitation Techniques

During food prep, sanitize and clean all surfaces including cutting boards and equipment. It’s important to remove food residue, dirt, and germs from surfaces so they don’t come in contact with food.

Employees should follow a daily sanitation procedure as they prepare food. For example:

  • Clear away any food debris
  • Clean the surface with hot soapy water
  • Rinse the area with water and wipe with a clean cloth
  • Spray the surface with a sanitizer
  • Let the area dry

A clean work station is a secret to practicing good food safety habits. Doing this will stop a foodborne illness outbreak and ensure your restaurant stays in business.

5. Follow Food Allergy Protocol

All employees must have food safety training so they understand food allergies. If your employee is preparing food for a food-allergic guest, ensure they double-check ingredients, use separate equipment and prepare food in an allergy-friendly area. Following these practices will prevent cross-contamination, which could end up being fatal.

6. Conduct Regular Inspections

Always check-in with your kitchen to ensure everything is up to par. Kitchens should be sanitary and food safety rules must always be followed. Consider hiring third-party inspectors to examine your kitchen to ensure your employees aren’t violating any commercial food sanitation rules. Feedback from a third-party can help avoid food-borne illnesses and health violations.

7. Design of Food Preparation Areas

Your facility’s design can have a major impact on food sanitation rules. It’s essential that the kitchen’s design encourages good food hygiene practices.

Food safety legislation has requirements for food preparation areas, such as:

  • Floors: Must be an easy-to-clean material so it’s safe to walk on and in good condition
  • Walls: Must be a durable material that is washable, non-toxic and easy-to-maintain
  • Ceilings: Overhead fittings (e.g. lighting) should prevent the accumulation of dirt and risk of contamination
  • Surfaces: Must be smooth, washable, non-toxic, and made of a corrosion-resistant material
  • Doors: Should be easy-to-clean and made from a non-absorbant material

8. Pest Control

Hiring suitable pest control to uphold kitchen sanitation is a wise decision. Pests include mice, cockroaches, ants, and flies, which all can spread harmful diseases to food. If there is an outbreak of pests, be wary as they may carry and transmit diseases such as salmonella and listeria.

Not only will pests repulse guests, but they will cause a ‘Fail’ on your health inspection and close your business. Educate yourself and employees on which pests are most common in your area so you know which pest control methods to use.

Again, cleaning and sanitizing surfaces often will stop pests from inhabiting your establishment. But also pay close attention to food preparation areas, trash cans, floor drains, and storage areas.

Food Safety and Sanitation Is the Secret Ingredient, But Is It Yours?

As a restauranteur, you’re promising guests a night filled with laughs and delicious food, so it’s your duty to keep them safe. Food safety and sanitation is the blueprint of any food establishment, and there’s a reason for that. Food-borne illnesses and unhygienic kitchens can be detrimental to your guest’s health and your restaurant’s reputation, so you must uphold them to keep your dream alive.

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