How to Stop Food Contamination in Commercial Kitchens
December 19, 2019
Food safety is serious business in the culinary world. It’s imperative that restaurant professionals ensure employees take all necessary precautions to prevent food contamination in the kitchen and dining room. Read on to learn more about food handling and safety protocols to keep your staff and customers out of harm’s way.
Food Safety Tips for your Commercial Kitchen
Food contamination in commercial kitchens can spell disaster for your restaurant. Norovirus, foodborne illness, and chemical contaminants in food can make your employees and customers seriously ill.
There are three main causes for food contamination in commercial kitchens: physical, biological, and chemical. Here are some best practices to avoid all three.
1. Biological Food Contamination
Biological contaminations are responsible for E. coli epidemics, norovirus outbreaks, and bacterial caused illness (aka food poisoning). Completely invisible to the naked eye, these microorganisms can wreak some serious havoc in your restaurant. Biological contaminations are typically passed either through a sick employee, improper handling of food, or cross contamination. Take these steps to mitigate risk:
- Employees must thoroughly wash their hands between each task. Of course, hand washing should always happen before and after every break.
- Never let an employee work when sick with a cold or virus.
- Sanitize work surfaces, utensils, and kitchen equipment after each job.
- Designate specific cutting boards, utensils, and containers for individual food types. For example, one set for raw beef, another for fish, etc. You can also invest in color-coded boards and utensil handles to help keep equipment separate.
- Avoid the food Danger Zone. Keep cold food cold and hot food hot to prevent bacteria from growing.
- Organize your commercial fridge according to food hierarchy storage charts to prevent cross contamination in your walk-in. Purchase food from known and safety-compliant restaurant food suppliers to ensure your ingredients have been properly stored prior to purchase.
2. Physical Food Contamination
Physical contamination can range from the harmless, yet off-putting, hair found in a customer’s soup, to the more dangerous, like a sliver of undetected glass in an entrée. This form of contamination can be easily controlled by implementing strict employee protocols.
- Adopt a personal hygiene policy for your restaurant. Make sure all employees have their hair pulled back and any facial hair trimmed or covered.
- Keep glass out of your kitchen. Encourage your chefs and servers to drink any beverages out of plastic or metal cups with lids. If a piece of serveware breaks in the kitchen, immediately discard any food that might have come in contact with the debris. Follow the same procedure at your bar if any glassware breaks in or near your ice bin.
- Take measures to keep pests out of your kitchen. Store all your food off the floor in rodent-proof lids. Create cleaning schedules and guidelines for all your food service and prep areas.
3. Chemical Food Contamination
Food service chemicals, like industrial cleaning supplies, are essential to keeping your restaurant and commercial kitchen clean. However, if the supplies are not stored safely, they can make their way into a customer’s food. Chemical food poisoning can cause long term illness and even death.
Make sure your restaurant follows proper cleaning and chemical storage techniques to ensure the health and safety of your guests.
- House all your cleaning chemicals and related supplies away from food products. Practicing correct storage procedures will reduce the risk of spills and contamination of food products.
- Never use food service containers for cleaning jobs—for example, a stock pot instead of a bucket.
- Put away or completely cover all food before using any chemicals.
- Choose cleaning products that are made for commercial kitchen use and designated food safe.
The foundation for a safe restaurant starts with precise food handling and safety practices. Whether or not your state requires certification in food safety procedures, it’s highly recommended you educate all members of your staff.
US Foods CHEF'STORE, Where Restaurants Buy Better
At CHEF'STORE we take your commercial kitchen food safety to heart. We offer a variety of bar and restaurant cleaning supplies, kitchen utensils, and storage tools to help your restaurant maintain proper safety standards.