7 Food Safety Tips for Your Commercial Kitchen
Restaurants and other similar commercial food establishments should follow the standards when it comes to safe food handling.
The Food Safety Modernization Act has helped to prevent the distribution of unsafe food but foodservice operations still need to be vigilant in the handling, storing, cooking, and serving of food to their customers.
Below is a list of tips that food establishments can follow to ensure proper and safe food handling.
1. Hand Washing
In any establishment, a safe food handling procedure starts with the simplest step – proper handwashing.
It’s important that from the very beginning kitchen staff that are frequently dealing with food practice proper hand washing at all times. This simple practice dramatically reduces contamination of food and also prevents cross-contamination.
Food establishments should also consider having a dedicated handwashing sink in the kitchen where soap and warm running water is provided.
Proper technique involves scrubbing the entirety of the hand, under the fingernails, and the part right above the wrists for approximately 20 seconds.
2. Food handling safety
Employees should at all times wear the recommended clothing when handling food. This includes clean uniforms and hair restraints. Aprons are optional but highly recommended.
Wearing artificial nails as well as jewelry and other items that could potentially fall off and contaminate food should be avoided when working with and preparing food.
And since the contact of food with bare hands can contaminate and make the food unsafe to eat, employees should wear clean gloves or use utensils when they handle food. These guidelines should be adhered to by all staff, whether kitchen or serving.
3. Preventing cross-contamination
Food that is ready to eat and those that are raw should be at all times kept separate especially during the preparation phase.
Designated areas of the kitchen are allotted for food products that are raw and such areas should be away from food that is about to be served.
Most commercial kitchen items are labeled or color-coded to prevent any cross-contamination.
Make sure staff know to always follow this kitchen protocol. A standard operating procedure checklist in line with the recommended HACCP standards can help ensure proper sanitation of kitchen products and equipment.
4. Maintain refrigeration
A commercial kitchen would not be able to operate properly without proper refrigeration.
Refrigeration equipment should ideally have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and below. Freezers, on the other hand, should keep food products at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
Make sure the thermometers of this equipment are monitored regularly with the option of installing an alarm should temperature start to rise above safe levels. Kitchen staff or delivery personnel must minimize the period that frozen food is taken out of refrigeration.
Ideally, only during the inspection, movement from one storage to another, and before it is cooked that frozen food should be taken out of cold storage.
5. Food warming
Typically, food is reheated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and kept above 140 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent any contamination. This means that food establishments should invest in food warming equipment.
Food should never be left at room temperature for prolonged periods and should be placed in a shallow container before it is refrigerated to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
Make sure proper cooling technique is followed since a lot of foodborne diseases are due to improper food cooling.
6. Food quality assurance
The quality of the food product should be kept throughout the food preparation process. This starts by making sure food deliveries are inspected thoroughly the moment it arrives, before it is placed into storage, right after it is taken out of storage, through food preparation, and right before it is served.
If, at any point, the food is damaged or showing signs of spoilage, it should be discarded immediately.
It’s also crucial that the temperature of food is checked the moment it is delivered.
If the temperature is above the 40 degrees Fahrenheit threshold, the delivery should be rejected. Whether a 5-star New York restaurant or an independent small hamburger restaurant Montana, quality checks on food products is mandatory.
7. Track shelf life
A common and effective way for restaurants and other food establishments to track the shelf life of food is with the use of a labeling system that is color-coded to ensure food is rotated properly.
Fresh and new products can be marked using green stickers. Foods that need to be consumed within 24 hours can be labeled with yellow stickers.
Food products that need to be consumed immediately can be labeled with red stickers. Food products past their expiration date should be discarded immediately.