If you want to attract customers to your dining establishment, you not only have to elevate the ambience, decor, and cleanliness of the seating area but also establish a food safety mindset in yourself and your employees. Because, after all, customers’ dining experience does not end with dining in your restaurant—if they fall sick or contract a disease after eating at your establishment, they are sure to blame the food you serve. Still, it would not end there because they would narrate their experiences to their family and friends. Before long, your restaurant, cafe, or eatery will become notoriously known for serving food unsafe to consume.
But we have good news for you—you can easily avoid damaging your reputation if you just implement a few simple food safety practices in your kitchen! We have compiled a list of such practices in this article, so you don’t have to. Just treat it as a checklist, and as long as you have everything checked, you are good to go.
Wash Your Hands
The easiest way germs can contaminate food is through your hands, and although gloves do help, they don’t guarantee cent percent protection against germ contamination. Therefore, you must wash your hands thoroughly with some hand soap and water before handling any food items or utensils. Also, wash your hands before and after preparing food, especially raw meat, poultry and seafood and before handling cooked or ready-to-eat food. Finally, and most importantly, whether you’re handling food or not, as long as you’re a part of the kitchen crew, you must wash your hands after using the toilet, touching rubbish/bins, coughing or sneezing, and handling live animals.
Economical Bactericidal Hand Cleaner
BACFREE is a halal and NSF-approved general-purpose antiseptic hand cleaner specially designed for light-duty hand cleaning where strict personal hygiene is required. BACFREE effectively retards bacterial growth on inanimate surfaces (e.g. dispenser, nozzles and triggers) so the possibility of cross infection is limited.
Keep Your Utensils Clean
A dirty kitchen attracts pests such as cockroaches that can carry harmful bacteria. So, to keep pests at bay in your kitchen, clean all kitchen surfaces like countertops with an appropriate disinfectant and hot water. Instead of just rinsing cutting boards, use the same method to wash cutting boards as well. Use a brush to scrub stubborn food and dirt particles—sanitise plastic cutting boards with an appropriate detergent. A smelly dishcloth or towel is a sure sign of bacterial growth. Wash these often in hot water. And lastly, don’t forget about kitchen sponges because, just like all other surfaces, they can also harbour millions of bacteria. Therefore, you must disinfect sponges as well.
Chlorine Detergent Sanitiser
OVACHLOR is a powdered chlorinated detergent, designed for cleaning and sanitising hard surfaces, kitchen wares and food manufacturing equipment. OVACHLOR cleans, sanitizes,and bleaches in one single operation.
Tannin Stain Remover
DESTAINER is a blend of non-caustic alkalis; sequestrants, detergents and oxidants formulated for the removal of tannin and food stains. It is generally used for the periodic removal of the build-up of stains not removed by everyday washing. It is also safe for use on all crockery, Melamine, plastic ware, stainless steel and chrome. Care should be taken with aluminum or zinc and their alloys as these may be stained.
Prevent Food Contamination
Raw food can contain dangerous microorganisms, which can cause foodborne diseases. When raw food is mixed with cooked food, the juices from raw meat or seafood with the microorganisms may be transferred to the cooked food. This is known as cross-contamination. Cross contamination is the most common cause of food poisoning.
Cross contamination can also lead to food-related illnesses resulting from harmful bacteria such as salmonella. High-risk foods such as raw meat or products made from eggs can transfer salmonella bacteria into our gut when eaten raw or undercooked. Read the article “Food Safety: The Dangers of Salmonella in Food Processing” if you want to know more about the diseases (causes, commonly infected food items, implications and prevention).
If you want to reduce the chances of cross-contamination of other foodborne germs and illnesses such as norovirus, salmonella, clostridium perfringens, campylobacter, staphylococcus aureus (Staph), follow the tips mentioned below:
- Wash knives and cutting boards between uses, especially when working with raw and cooked food. Where possible, use separate cutting boards for raw and cooked food.
- Wash knives thoroughly especially after cutting raw meat, seafood and poultry, before cutting other food.
- Use different serving plates for raw and cooked food. If you use the same plate, wash between uses.
- Place raw food in tightly wrapped plastic bags or covered containers in the refrigerator to prevent raw food juices from dripping on to other food.
- Place dry food above wet food to prevent juices from contaminating the dry food.
Prepare Your Food Well
Another important step in the prevention of food cross-contamination is the thorough cooking of food, as it helps to kill all the harmful bacteria in food. So, remember to Cook food thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, eggs and seafood. If the meat is pink, it is not thoroughly cooked. Always cook food at high temperatures (above 75°C). But even if the outside looks cooked, you have to ensure the centre of meat and poultry are well-cooked as partially cooked food increases the risk of bacterial growth. Lastly, food like stews, soups and curries should be brought to boiling temperatures when cooking.
Handling Different Types of Foods
No, not all food items are handled the same way. What’s considered safe for one type of food is considered highly unsafe for the other. But knowledge on handling techniques is not widely spread among those who handle food on a day-to-day basis. So follow the tips mentioned below for food handling:
Handling frozen food
- Do not thaw food at room temperature. It is safer to thaw food by defrosting overnight in the refrigerator, or by using the microwave oven.
- Do not hold marinated food at room temperature. Keep marinated food in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.
Handling dairy products
- Do not leave dairy products sitting at room temperature. Take only what you need to consume and return the unused portion to the refrigerator.
- Rinse all fruits and vegetables thoroughly in a basin of tap water to remove any dirt, bacteria or chemical residues.
- Soak the vegetables in a basin of fresh tap water for 15 minutes.
- Before cutting and cooking, rinse the vegetables once more in a basin of fresh tap water. Special detergents or washes for fruits and vegetables are not needed.
- Do not store ripe fruit with vegetables as ripe fruits produce ethylene gas that can cause green leafy vegetables to turn yellow.
Store Foods at Safe Temperatures
Food products must be stored in refrigerators/chillers and freezers at safe temperature ranges. The temperature of the refrigerators/chillers shall be maintained at 4°C or below, while the freezers shall be maintained at -18°C or below. Also, avoid keeping your food near sources of extreme heat as bacteria multiply quickly in food kept in the temperature danger zone (between 5°C to 60°C).
Store frozen meat in the freezer at -18°C. For storage of frozen meat in larger packaging, thaw the meat just enough (to about -10°C) to separate into smaller portions, then deep freeze in individual packs. Ensure there is sufficient space in-between items placed in the freezer or refrigerator so that cold air can circulate freely around them.
Nuts can keep better and longer in airtight containers when stored in a cool, dry place away from light. It is best to keep them in an enclosed cupboard or in the fridge. And mouldy food should be discarded as it may contain harmful mycotoxins. Washing or cutting the mould off your food won’t get rid of the mycotoxins, so our best advice would be to discard the food item entirely.
Follow the recommended list below for storing foods:
Do not Freeze
Use by date
Do not Freeze
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb, Pork
Shrimp, Scallops, Crayfish, Squid, Shucked Clams, Mussels, and Oysters
Live Clams , Mussels, Crab, Lobster and Oysters
Lean Fish (cod, sole, etc)
Fatty Fish (mackerel, salmon, etc)
Frozen Dinners and Entrees
Keep Frozen Until Ready to Heat
Egg, Chicken, Ham, Tuna, Macaroni Salads
Does not Freeze Well
Soups and Stews
Chicken Nuggets and Patties
The top three rules to remember with thawing are:
- As far as possible, thaw meat without opening the package to prevent contamination, dehydration and absorption of foreign flavours.
- Thaw only the amount required.
- Place the frozen meat in the refrigerator or use the microwave oven to thaw the meat safely.
In general, the time required for thawing 500g of frozen meat is as follows:
- Refrigerator: overnight
- Microwave oven: 3 – 5 minutes
(Note: thawing times vary with size, thickness and shape of meat.)
Do not refreeze meat that has been completely thawed as it may cause deterioration in quality. Improper handling and refreezing of meat may lead to the growth of bacteria to levels that can cause food poisoning. Instead of freezing unused portions, keep them chilled in the refrigerator for up to two days. Alternatively, extra portions can be cooked first and then stored chilled or frozen until the next meal. And as stated above, remember to separate raw meat from cooked or ready-to-eat food to prevent cross-contamination.
Ensure Proper Disposal of Garbage
The way you treat kitchen garbage can affect your business and the environment. By throwing out old food, your dumpster can attract pests and vermin like rats, mice, and flies. Keeping your trash and recycling areas neat and tidy is essential. Make sure that every container has a lid that closes. You must also strive to limit your waste. You may benefit from investing in a composting initiative that breaks down food and organic scraps. Making the shift can reduce costs and environmental impact—at the same time.
These food safety tips are absolutely essential to keep in mind if you want your kitchen to stay free of germs and bacteria and if you want your customers to stay happy and satisfied. And the best thing is, just a little care goes a long way in proving your efficacy and credibility as a finessed eatery.
We have been doing the research, and we compiled every last useful tried and tested tip based on science we have been practising for years. So now, all you have to do is get your pens and paper ready, cross off all the tips on our list that you follow, and add the ones you don’t. Remember, food safety is embedded in an organisation only when the company sees it as a cornerstone instead of a cost for the company.