Tips to Avoid Bare Hand Contact with Food

You won't find a more debated or controversial topic between food safety inspectors and the restaurant industry than bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods. According to the FDA, you can't do it. This results in many chefs having to wear gloves. As an inspector myself, I've heard all the arguments: "I don't have to wear gloves because I wash my hands so often. "I can't prepare the food properly with gloves on." "If I can't feel the fish while cutting it, then I'll cut my hand!" "The plastic in the gloves changes the taste of the food." For the most part, none of these arguments get very far during an inspection. The food industry either needs to provide better ways to prevent … [Read more...]

Hand Washing 101

  Proper hand washing is the best defense against foodborne illness and spreading disease. There are many opportunities in a full-service restaurant for the transmission of disease when good hand washing practices are not implemented. Proper Hand Washing Procedure Food employees should wash their hands for 20 seconds using a cleaning compound in a hand wash sink in the following order: Rinse hands under clean, running warm water. Apply cleaning compound. Rub hands together vigorously for at least 10–15 seconds. Remove soil from underneath fingernails. Thoroughly rinse hands under clean, running warm water. Dry hands with a disposable drying towel or hot air. For more on … [Read more...]

Good Food Storage Practices

Food storage can be very complicated in a busy and most likely small kitchen. Chefs and managers often have a daily struggle in trying to properly store food. The ultimate goal is to protect the food from contamination that may come in many forms. Sometimes, a restaurant becoming busier, increasing its volume, and exceeding its storage capacity can put safe food storage at risk. In this post, the challenges and hazards associated with different food storage areas are outlined. Restaurant Food Storage Areas Food in a restaurant is typically stored in the following areas: Walk-in coolers Make table coolers Dry storage Freezers The Let's look at each of these in more … [Read more...]

Stop Bacteria Growth, Cool Hot Food Quickly

Cooling hot foods is a very important and difficult task for most restaurants. Hot foods that won’t be served right away must be rapidly cooled down and stored in a cold-holding unit below 41° Fahrenheit (F). If this process is done improperly, bacteria will grow, leading to poisoning customers who eat the contaminated food. Reheating will kill some bacteria, but other bacteria form spores and toxins that are heat stable and won’t be killed in the reheating process. Having an effective cooling process will help protect the quality of the food as well as provide a good defense against foodborne illness. Proper Cooling Times and Temperatures Food must be cooled from 140° F to 70° F in the … [Read more...]

Date Marking Keeps Food Safety in Check

  Dating and labeling potentially hazardous foods is an important part of maintaining quality and preventing foodborne illness. Even if food is held at the proper temperatures, bacteria will still grow but at a lesser rate. Ready to eat/potentially hazardous foods (RTE/PHF) shouldn't be held for longer than 7 days to ensure the growth of bacteria doesn't reach dangerous levels. Date Marking is required for foods that meet the following criteria: Ready to eat Potentially hazardous Refrigerated Held for more than 24 hours Best Practices for Date Marking After food is prepared, label the container with the name of the product, the date it was made, and who prepared it. Make … [Read more...]

Prevent Cross-Contamination in Food

  Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, hands, cutting boards, utensils, etc. The most common form of cross-contamination is from mishandling raw meats. By not separating raw meats from each other as well as from ready-to-eat foods, you are increasing the risk of foodborne illness. Food Storage Foods should be stored in this order if on the same rack: TOP: Ready-to-eat foods/produce/cooked meats Raw fish Raw beef and pork BOTTOM: Raw chicken As you can see, raw chicken should always be on the bottom. If raw chicken is stored above produce, the potential for salmonella from the chicken to contaminate the produce will increase. Eating … [Read more...]

Fight Foodborne Illness: Know the Right Temperature

All restaurants battle with the problem of keeping food in temperature. Knowing the right temperatures for food is key in fighting foodborne illness. Temperature abuse is the most difficult problem to control in the kitchen and can have the worst consequences. All potentially hazardous foods (for example, meats, pastas, cooked foods, cut tomatoes, melons, and cut leafy greens) must not be held between 41⁰ F–135⁰ F. This is what is called the danger zone. If these foods are held in this zone, bacteria that is already present will begin to grow. This is what leads to foodborne illness. What factors are keeping you from controlling temperatures? Equipment: Old, unmaintained, broken, … [Read more...]