September is National Food Safety Month, and it serves as a great reminder of the responsibility we have as food industry workers to maintain clean and food safe environments for our customers to dine. Here are five things you can implement today in your kitchen to improve food safety for your foodservice operation.
- Continued Education - Turnover can be high in the food industry, particularly in fast casual restaurants, so it is the responsibility of management and leadership to continue to train staff members on the importance of food safety, and have good kitchen rules for how to do so. It comes from the top down, so be sure to do your part as manager or chef to maintain a food safe kitchen, and your staff will follow. You can even do a mock health inspection to go through the kitchen as a team and point out key safety areas.
- Keep Cold Food Cold, and Hot Food Hot - The temperature of serving and storing food is important. Food between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit is at risk for harmful bacteria growth. That means that you should always thaw meat in the fridge where it can stay below 41 degrees, and NEVER on the counter.
- Avoid Cross Contamination - Veggies should never be cut with the same knife as raw meat, but it can be hard to remember which knife was used. Implementing a color coded system can help insure that workers use the proper knife and cutting board to avoid making a mistake that could be deadly.
- Keep Ice Clean - Ice bins can be the perfect place to grow mold and harmful bacteria - dark, damp, and cool. That’s why it is so important to train your staff on the proper way to clean the ice bins, and to clean them often. Each environment will require a different cleaning schedule because different types of food product can contribute to buildup in ice machines and you may not be able to see what is happening in your machine by looking in the bin . Ice is an ingredient in nearly every beverage that is served to customers, so be sure to treat it well. Additionally, be sure to train your staff to have safe ice handling methods: don’t touch the inside of the bin while getting ice, keep the ice scoop in a clean location and sanitize it often, and don’t ever put outside items into the ice bin for cooling.
- WASH HANDS - This is the easiest thing you can implement to keep your customers safe. Be sure to make it easy for your staff to have good hand washing habits. Again, if they see management washing their hands regularly, they will themselves be reminded. Check out our infographic on how you can wash your hands well and keep the most wanted "Bad Bugs" away from your customers.
Following these simple steps can help keep your operation more Food Safe for your customers. It is important to be diligent in maintaining clean food contact areas, and encouraging your staff to do the same. Follow along with us throughout the month as we explore different ice safety dangers and how we can overcome them.