Have you ever stopped to think about the safety of the food you order in a restaurant? How was the delicious meal prepared to ensure you eat a healthy meal free from germs, bacteria, and other harmful organisms?
Many people do not think beyond getting full and licking their fingers at the delicious meal. In many countries, food and sanitation ensure food is clean from the farm to your plate. One of the most critical phases is heavy metal testing which can be harmful when consumed.
What is food safety?
Food safety is the process of ensuring that food is prepared, stored, and handled properly to avoid foodborne health complications. All food-handling institutions must reassure consumers of their customers.
Health Guidelines For Restaurant
All food joints should practice the following to promote health and safety;
- Wash hands
Most people had not been washing their hands until the pandemic. The need to clean the hands often with soap and running water can be the difference between a sick customer and a happy one.
All food handlers at home, roadside joints, hotels, cafes, and all should wash hands with soap before preparing and handling food.
- The simple procedure can never be overemphasized;
- Wet your hands under running water
- Apply a generous amount of soap on the palms of the hands
- Rub the hands for at least 20 seconds. While at it, pay attention to the fingertips and fingernails between the finger space and the thumb.
- Rinse the hands until all soap and dirt is washed away
- Sanitize surfaces
It is imperative to sanitize all working surfaces before preparing food. Some food preparation places to sanitize and clean include working tables, storage areas, chopping boards, kitchen equipment, trash bins, and floor drains.
A thorough cleaning should be done at least every two weeks in bustling restaurants. During the general cleaning, scrub the walls, doors, and windows. You should also check other rarely used places because crawling insects can hide there and contaminate food equipment. Pests are responsible for spreading diseases such as Salmonella and Listeria. Walls should be repainted every year and floors polished.
Sanitization and cleaning of food preparation areas remove dirt and micro-organisms that may turn the surfaces into breeding places.
Typically, restaurant managers should put a proper cleaning schedule. There should be a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly cleaning and sanitation procedure. The daily cleaning procedure for working surfaces looks like this;
- Scrape all food that remains into the trash can and clear the table of food particles
- Clean the working surface with hot soapy water. Scrub the table appropriately
- Rinse the surface with plenty of clean water
- Wipe the table with a clean, dry cloth
- Apply a generous amount of professional sanitizer and rub through the working area
- Let the surface air dry
Heating as a sanitization method
You can effectively sanitize some kitchen equipment by using heat. For instance, flatware is best sanitized with heat. However, one must first soak the items in steaming hot water of up to 180 degrees for at least 30 seconds.
Alternatively, run the utensils through an extremely hot water dishwasher. You can add a chemical sanitizer such as iodine, chlorine and other recommended compounds.
- Wash fruits, vegetables and other foods
All fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly under running water until clean. Clean fruits and vegetables to remove bacteria and organisms that may cause diseases such as salmonella. Therefore, potatoes, carrots, beetroot, and others should be cleaned well after preparation before being put in the pan. Use a vegetable brush where necessary.
However, pre-packaged food items are typically cleaned appropriately before packaging. Read the food label to ensure it reads pre-washed.
- Be wary of cross-contamination
It is possible to clean and sanitize surfaces and food items yet get them contaminated. Cross-contamination is the unintentional transfer of micro-organisms, bacteria, allergens and dirt transfers from one object to another.
Although the transfer of harmful organisms are invisible to the naked eye, cross-contamination can be fatal although the transfer.
How to prevent cross-examination
It is necessary to separate different types of foods. For instance, a chopping board used for meat should not be used for vegetables.
Use color-coded chopping boards to help in differentiation. Color-coded boards help the kitchen staff to keep track and avoid cross-contamination. Equip your kitchen with cutting boards for meat, cooked products, vegetables and raw items.
- Check food storage
It is imperative to prepare and store food items at appropriate temperatures. Micro-organisms thrive in warm temperatures. It is critical to appreciate that different foods are safe under specific temperatures.
The temperature range that encourages the multiplication of bacteria is called the danger zone. Bacteria multiply between 40 and 135 degrees food temperature. The longer food remains in the danger zone, the greater the chances of contamination and bacteria growth.
The following are high-risk temperature-sensitive foods:
- Meat and poultry products
- Potatoes and other baked vegetables
- Fish and seafoods
- Sliced lemons, tomatoes and leafy green vegetables
- Cooked food such as beans, soups, vegetables, and rice
- Untreated oil mixtures
Temperature-sensitive foods should stay within the danger zone for a maximum of four hours, after which they become harmful to eat. However, one can reheat or chill within these four hours, to redeem to the food-safe temperature range.
Allergic Reactions in food restaurants
- Always use different cutlery for allergen-free and regular meals
- Beware of the top 8 allergen-prone foods, including tree nuts, soybeans, eggs, peanuts, wheat, shellfish, milk and fish.
- Use designated working surfaces for allergen-free dishes and products
- Train the kitchen staff on food handling for allergy-prone customers
Food poisoning can happen anywhere because the microorganisms cannot be seen with the naked eyes. It is imperative to train every on proper food handling techniques. Simple routines to prevent food contamination include cleaning and sanitization, maintaining the appropriate temperature for foods, ensuring proper storage, avoiding cross-contamination. It is also a lawful requirement for restaurant food handlers to get a clean bill of health from the public health department.