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There are around 2.4 million cases of food poisoning in the UK every year. Many of these cases could have been prevented had restaurants not made food safety mistakes.

When running a restaurant, avoiding food contamination and maintaining good standards of hygiene is absolutely vital. Not only can making mistakes land you with a fine from the food safety inspectors, but it can also damage your business’ reputation and lead to lost customers.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the common food safety errors that restaurants make and how you can avoid them. Are you ready to learn more and make your restaurant better? Then read on.

1. Not Cleaning Utensils Properly

Cleaning cooking tools is a vital part of restaurant food safety. If you’re using the same knife to chop raw meat as you’re using to chop vegetables, you run the risk of spreading bacteria like salmonella to your customers. Any utensils that you use should only be used for one specific task: if you need to use it for something else, you need to wash it in between uses.

Similarly, if you are a chef and need to taste a dish to make sure that it’s right, you need to use a dedicated spoon that you then wash immediately. Never put a spoon into your mouth and then back into the dish, as this can spread illnesses.

You should make sure that you have enough utensils that you won’t run out and can constantly clean used ones.

2. Not Washing Hands

It’s one of the most basic aspects of food hygiene but, shockingly, not washing hands often enough is a very common mistake in commercial kitchens. Not only should you wash your hands after you have been to the toilet and so on, you also need to make sure that you wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling raw meat and other possible illness vectors.

You should have a sink in your kitchen that has a hot tap and enough soap so that everyone can wash their hands well whenever necessary.

3. Not Storing Ingredients Safely

Ingredients should not be stored in a haphazard manner. Storing meat, vegetables, and other ingredients all needs to be done precisely.

Raw vegetables and products that are ready to eat should be stored in separate fridges. If you don’t have multiple fridges, you may store them in the same fridge, with the ready to eat products above the raw ones. 

You should also make sure that you store raw meat below raw vegetables. This is because juices from meat can drip down onto your vegetables, which the customer may then eat. This can expose them to harmful bacteria.

You should ensure that when you get a delivery of frozen food that you freeze it right away. If you let it defrost and then freeze it again, you risk spoilage and bacteria growth.

You will need to make sure that your fridges and freezers are set to the right temperatures as specified by the British government.

4. Peeling or Chopping Unwashed Fruit and Vegetables

Before you cut, peel, or chop any fruit and veg, you must wash it. This is because there may be bacteria on the skins that will then be spread inside the fruit or vegetables by the knife or peeler.

You should wash all fruit and veg under running water. If it’s a hard vegetable or fruit like avocado, swede, or melons, you should use a brush to scrub the skins clean. It doesn’t matter whether you are going to peel them or not: washing fruit and vegetables is essential.

5. Testing Foods to See if They’re Spoiled

Your sense of smell or taste is not sufficient to see whether food has spoiled. While it can be obvious when milk has spoiled, it could still be harmful before you can smell that it’s rancid.

Foods that smell or taste fine may still be off, there is no way to be sure. Not only is it an inaccurate way of checking whether food is still edible, but it can also make you very sick. Even a small amount of off cheese or ham could be enough to make you ill.

Don’t risk either yourself or your customers. Stick to the use-by date as indicated on the packaging.

6. Thawing Food On Your Counters

While it’s often done at home, thawing food on a worktop is a very bad idea. Room temperature is ideal for harmful bacteria and they can multiply very fast.

If you need to defrost food, you should do it either in the fridge, in cold water, or in the microwave. This prevents as much bacteria from growing, which means that the defrosted food poses less of a risk to your customers’ health.

7. Undercooking Meat and Fish

While cooking chicken, how do you check that it’s done? Checking that the juices run clear may be good enough for the home but it won’t cut it in a restaurant. The same is true for any meat or fish.

To check that it’s cooked, you will need to use a meat thermometer and measure the temperature of the meat or fish at its thickest point. Ensure that it is cooked to the minimum required temperature, even when cooking steak and other meat dishes that can be served at lower temperatures.

Avoiding These Food Safety Mistakes Is Your Duty

These food safety mistakes could pose a profound risk to the health of your cooking staff and of your customers. It could also incur a strong reaction from the Food Standards Agency. 

We can help you keep your restaurant hygienic. Get in touch with us to book an assessment today and find out where you need to improve.