If you work in the food service industry, you know how important it is to maintain safety with and around food. In fact, foodborne illness outbreaks have increased by 40% in the last year. Believe it or not, there is much more to food safety than just making sure your hands are washed. By the end of this article, you should be equipped with practical tips on how you can play your part in proper food safety.
First and foremost, when you begin the process of mitigating foodborne illnesses in your work environment, you must train all levels of employees on procedures and protocols for food safety.
- Health of Employees
People are still one of the main components that factor into food safety. In order to protect other employees as well as consumers, it is imperative that any employee who shows symptoms such as vomiting, sore throat and fever, diarrhea, jaundice, or infected cuts and burns should not come to work. Managers and businesses need to provide adequate support to allow employees to uphold these boundaries by offering sick leave, integrating wellness programs, develop a protocol for managers to send sick employees home, and refraining from reprimanding call ins. Missing a shift or two of work is worth keeping hundreds if not thousands of people safe from being affected by a foodborne illness.
- Proper Hand Hygiene
As we mentioned before, washing hands is not the only, nor primary, means of keeping illness at bay. However, the biggest offender of improperly washed hands is what we call a Staph infection. The best way to keep this common bacterium from affecting you and others is by proper hand washing. To promote regular and proper hand washing, we suggest designating certain sinks for hand washing and posting instructions for handwashing nearby. It is recommended that after lathering up with soap, employee scrub their hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Proper Glove Use
After hand washing, glove use is your second line of defense against the spread of pathogens. When you employee great food service work gloves like disposable nitrile or disposable vinyl gloves, you guard against the spread of common pathogens like Hepatitis A, Salmonella, and Listeria. You should remember to change to a new pair of gloves when you begin a new task, or after you’ve been at the same task for 4 hours. And of course, you should always change to a new pair of gloves if the pair you’re wearing gets ripped or damaged in any way.
- Food Storage and Temperature
Maintaining a safe temperature food can be a tricky challenge because of all the different modes of transportation that food goes through to get to its final destination. This is especially important to monitor when it comes to food items like seafood, meat, and other ready to eat foods that can become unsafe if the temperature is allowed to get too high. One way to help keep food temperature in check is by creating checklists at different parts of the process. For example, upon delivery, you should have a checklist that allows employees to check food packaging, temperature, and appearance.