With all the planning, design, decisions on the menu, plus the marketing and promotion, do you really want your new restaurant to fail before its doors even open? Any business owner who ignores food hygiene is running this risk. If you want to succeed in hospitality, you need food safety to be at the top of your agenda.
We can help out with our handy checklist. Read on to find nine restaurant food safety guidelines you need to implement before opening.
1. Cross Contamination Storage
The first rule that a new restauranteur should know is that of storing food safely. Food that is cooked, and food that is still raw, should never be stored nearby. This is in any area, such as freezers and cupboards.
The reason for this is that bacteria from raw food can be extremely harmful. If it reaches your cooked food, then this can be ingested and cause serious health problems to customers. While preparing, you should have a range of cutting boards and utensils for different types of raw food preparation.
2. Wash and Cover Hands
The most likely item to transfer bacteria around your kitchen is the hands of your workers. They are transferring and preparing all kinds of food, so it stands to reason that you need to implement measures against contamination. This can start with a designated station for the washing and sanitization of hands.
Put up signs that promote the correct methods of hand washing. This should mean a hand wash for at least 20 seconds, working between fingers.
To safeguard against this even further, your workers should be wearing kitchen gloves. For each type of food they’re preparing, they must use a new set of gloves. Position boxes of gloves around the kitchen, so they are always within reach of your chefs.
3. Check the Quality of Food Shipments
The quality of food coming into your kitchen should undergo the same quality check as the food going out. Even if you have a fantastic supplier, accidents can happen. Check that meat and fish have been ice packed and stored in vacuum packages.
If you are dealing with unregulated suppliers or local direct suppliers like farms and butchers, then check what food safety checks they have. If they have no food measures in place for the transit of products, they risk contaminating your kitchen and customers.
4. Cleaning for Restaurant Food Safety
As well as keeping your hands and food storage areas clean, your whole food preparation area must be clean. You could leave this until after service, but this will take a long time to fix and could get in the way of other work.
To combat this, instigate a ‘clean as you go’ policy. Clear food away quickly, and wash dishes and cutlery as soon as they have been used. You may employ a designated pot washer for this purpose.
Encourage staff to wipe down counters as soon as they get a break in service. At the end of the day, staff should then clean ovens, grills and stoves, ensuring that they replace any oil in fryers and clean them.
5. Monitor Temperature
Some foods can be raw or rare, and this is why you must ensure you have excellent fresh produce. However, other items need cooking to the exact temperature. If not, they can cause illnesses like salmonella.
Keep a selection of kitchen thermometers for your staff to use. You must have a designated one for each type of produce to avoid cross-contamination.
6. Don’t Allow Sick Workers in the Kitchen
It is inconvenient when staff phone in sick. However, it is better to work understaffed than with ill members of your team. Even if people insist on staying in the kitchen, ill workers must be sent home immediately.
At the base level, you do not want workers sneezing and coughing over your food. In the worst case, anyone with vomiting and diarrhoea can pass on the serious illness to customers. Do not take the risk.
7. Wash Food
Fruit and vegetables must be washed. As they have come from an outdoor environment, you risk bringing contaminants into the kitchen. Even if they are peeled, you must still wash them thoroughly.
Have a selection of colanders which you can use for washing different food types—Wash fruit and vegetables under cold running water. Pay particular attention to tomatoes, as they are often linked to cases of salmonella when not washed properly.
8. Use a Two Hour Rule
Food lying around your kitchen is never a good idea, but in the busy kitchen, preparing food and ingredients in advance is essential. To prevent food from going bad, you should adopt a rule of two hours. Any food not chilled and covered, left out in the kitchen, should be disposed of at two-hour intervals.
This applies to room temperatures. If your kitchen is hotter, or food is in warmer places, then you should adjust the time you are leaving it in the open accordingly. If you are in doubt how long food has been left out, then dispose of it.
9. Get Your Employees Into the Mindset
Food safety starts and ends with your staff. They are on the frontline, and everything they do will have an impact. In a busy kitchen, it is up to them to ensure food safety standards do not slip.
Staff should have long hair tied back. Anyone cooking or preparing food should have hair covered, including facial hair. Jewellery must be removed, and fingernails should be short enough that bacteria and dirt can not get caught under them.
Make Hygiene a Priority
You should enforce the rules above and stress the importance of food hygiene to staff. Hold regular refresher and training sessions so that hygiene is not a task, but an ethos that runs through your business.
If you need assistance and guidance with restaurant food safety, Chaboun Consultancy Services can help. We can work with you to create a HACCP plan that will give your business the highest of hygiene ratings. Call us today for a discussion on how we can help.