Mastering Restaurant Safety: Tips and Tricks
Any trendy new restaurant can suffer closure at the hands of a health inspector if they don’t practice good food safety. Regulation is constantly growing in this industry, especially at the state level, making it sometimes feel overwhelming just to sell food to the masses.
Yet, much of food safety boils down to following a few simple rules. These rules will help you adhere to the standards set by your state and city, maintain an educated staff of professional workers, and avoid the potential for foodborne illnesses.
Knowing the Standards
Every state and territory will have different regulations on how to handle food. You might need a food handlers card in California, or a specific license to sell certain products. For example, in Connecticut, you would need a license to sell frozen foods (like ice cream or frozen pastries).
There are also wage and labor standards to keep aware of as well. The ACA, which is currently up for debate, mandates health insurance for businesses that have 50 or more employees. There are also overtime laws dictating how much employees must be paid and the number of consecutive hours they can work.
Also, don’t forget about licensing fees if you decide to display TVs for sporting events. You would need to pay a fee to cover the performance of those events that goes beyond your cable bill.
Educate Your Staff
Food safety begins and ends with how staff handles the food customers will eat. If they aren’t educated on the fundamentals, as well as the specifics to your business, then you’re opening yourself up to health hazards and poor ratings.
Step one is to institute an across-the-board-zero-tolerance policy regarding hand washing. Make sure everyone is near obsessive with hand washing before touching raw or cooked foods. It’s a good idea to create a system to hold everyone accountable, and to use goals and positive reinforcement to ensure compliance.
You can also mitigate risk in other ways. Food safety is about anticipating potential dangers. Looking around your kitchen, what do you see as a potential problem?
Avoid Cross Contamination
Cross contamination is easy to control at home, where you don’t have so many ingredients passing through the same space rapidly. Put those same practices in place at a restaurant and you’re either looking at food-borne illnesses or services that grind to a halt.
Here are some quick ideas on how to mitigate the risks that come from cross-contamination:
- Color-coded cutting boards and knives for certain kinds of meat
- A designated sink for vegetable washing
- Thoroughly sanitize all workspaces
- Make sure you’re monitoring temperatures. The “danger zone” is right around 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit
There are many ways to enforce a cleaner kitchen, but avoiding cross contamination will save you from expensive fines. Explore some policies and observe what’s happening among staff for opportunities to make meaningful changes.
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes of your favorite restaurant to make sure everything runs smoothly, and no one gets sick. Remember, food safety can be a boon for promotion. If the public knows you serve good, clean food, you may beat competitors in the same price range. With a system of accountability, you can enforce the most important rules that keep your kitchen running smoothly.