Sanitation and food safety are essential in keeping food establishments such as restaurants and diners clean and safe. Food handlers must prevent food contamination to avoid illnesses and fatalities. Most food-borne illnesses are caused by contamination arising out of unclean practices of food handlers working in unsanitary environment.A restaurant and other food establishments can maintain cleanliness by observing the following:
Bacteria and other microorganisms that people spread to the food they handle are the most common causes of food-borne illnesses. Food handling starts from the time food products are harvested or collected, sorted out, stored, transported, and prepared, until they are served to the end-users. That means a number of people handled the food in one way or another before it is served and consumed. It also means that a number of people can potentially contaminate the food.
The most basic step to food handling safety is educating food handlers to practice basic personal hygiene. This includes washing of hands and exposed arms as often as necessary when handling food, especially when switching from touching raw food to cooked food. Personal hygienic practices also include using food-grade gloves, wearing head cover, refraining from wearing jewelry, and other practices that will prevent food contamination.
Training restaurant food handlers on the importance of personal hygiene is essential to food establishments providing the best service to their customers. Most states now require food handlers to get a food handler certification.
- Clean Contact Surfaces
Proper cleaning and sanitizing of utensils and contact surfaces are essential in all food preparation areas. Unsanitary equipment and environment can potentially spread harmful microorganisms that may contaminate the food and the people who will consume them. The presence of disease-spreading pests such as rodents, cockroaches, flies, and others can also spread bacteria and viruses. Food handlers must thoroughly clean the work surface before letting food products get in touch with it. They must avoid cross contamination by using the same surface for different kinds of food items such as raw meat and raw fruits or vegetables. They should make sure that raw vegetables must not in contact with any kind of raw meat or poultry.
Surfaces where food is prepared must be sanitized with a sanitizing solution each time they are used. That is the reason why food establishments always keep a tub of sanitizing solution in the work area.
- Sanitizing Equipment
Kitchen equipment must be cleaned and sanitized before and after use. They get in contact with food and if they are not properly cleaned, the bacterial growth may contaminate the next batch of food items they will get in contact with. Equipment such as kitchen knives, meat slicers, and others must be thoroughly cleaned, including the hidden crevices where small particles of meat may lodge in.
- Good Housekeeping
Good housekeeping practices can help maintain the cleanliness and safety of the food preparation area. Kitchen chemicals must be handled correctly and safely in order to prevent contamination. They must be stored away from food and they must be in sealed and labeled containers. The kitchen must not undergo cleaning with the use of chemicals while food preparation is ongoing. It must be done preferably after the cessation of food preparation activities.
- Safe Storage
Food must be kept at the correct temperature and at the proper amount of time. The danger zone in food preparation is the internal temperature between 41 degrees Fahrenheit and 135 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the period when microorganisms are like to grow. Food handlers must be aware of the different temperature requirements of each food group.Storage of food items must be done in such a manner that there will be no cross contamination. Raw food should not be stored together with cooked food. Different food items must be stored in different containers and compartments.
Food establishments have the responsibility of serving good and clean food. Maintaining their cleanliness will be key to the success of their business.