A key requirement of food preparation businesses in the hospitality sector is providing utmost care to food safety. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has raised the issue on a higher note and has become more important for public awareness. Good food hygiene always guarantees that prepared food is safe to intake for every consumer as it prevents harmful microorganisms from spreading foodborne illnesses. You will be surprised that one of every six Americans is affected by these foodborne illnesses yearly. So, it is very important for food preparation businesses to comply with food safety laws and protect their reputation.
Fortunately, this is the month of September, National Food Safety Education Month. So, it is ideal for every restaurant owner to emphasize food safety issues. But before we dig deeper to understand the importance of food safety in restaurants and explore the best practices, it is important to know about National Food Safety Education Month. So, let's explore what National Food Safety Education Month is.
National Food Safety Education Month
Although it's crucial to follow the safe food handling processes throughout the year, National Food Safety Education Month is the ideal time to reinvigorate your focus on food safety. If we look at the origin of this month, it was created by National Restaurant Association, a non-profit educational organization run by the restaurant business association, in 1994.
This annual event aims to allow everyone to understand and reanalyze all the works for preventing foodborne illnesses. Furthermore, it encourages every food industry professional to evaluate the progress, create new goals, and share the new issues on food safety. Besides, it also aims to promote general awareness among consumers who are not concerned about food safety for most of the year.
After the modernization of the Food Safety Act of 2011, it is completely under the responsibility of the Food and Drug Administration to take every preventive measure for the facilities and food products under their authority. FDA has recommended the following four simple steps to prevent foodborne illnesses. These include:
- And Chill
Undoubtedly, the FDA is committed to spreading many social media messages to educate others about good food habits and food safety. Many food safety education materials are found in their updated Education Resource Library. Apart from that, they have published Everyday Food Safety videos to educate every individual about how to buy, ready, and store foods safely. Therefore, whether you are a farmer, food processor, restaurant owner, or professional chef, you should celebrate National Food Safety Education Month to keep the public safe.
Importance of Food Safety in Restaurants
Foods available at restaurants come through a long and tiresome process, including everything from transportation to storage, before presenting them on the plates in front of consumers. So there is always a chance for bacteria and other harmful microorganisms to infiltrate and contaminate those food products. It is always a big concern for every restaurant owner as it can damage their restaurant's image and reputation and eventually negatively affect the restaurant's sales.
If we look at the example of Chipotle, a popular Mexican food chain, many consumers were affected by the outbreak of E. coli bacteria after dining at Chipotle in 2015. This forced the food chain to close its maximum outlets in the United States. As per the report of MarketWatch, the value of Chipotle's stock experienced a steady decline of 18% within the first two months of the incident. Undoubtedly, this resulted in financial loss and damaged their image, reputation, and brand equity. Although Chipotle has taken many initiatives to recover from the loss, many consumers still remember them for the outbreak and link E. coli with Chipotle.
However, not all restaurants can't recover from such a food safety disaster, so they must prioritize food safety. Individuals at every level of the food supply chain should hold the responsibility to evaluate the food products in detail and handle them with great safety. Besides, they should focus on some major areas of food safety, including temperature guidelines, proper sanitization before handling the shipment or preparing the meal, and further following the proper inspection and handling techniques. Restaurants that have put their uttermost importance on preventing cross-contamination on their food products always prioritize food safety.
Best Food Safety Practices for Restaurants in 2022
We will familiarize you with some best safety practices for restaurants in 2022.
Go through and Follow the Government's Guidelines
Proper homework is essential before implementing food safety practices in the restaurant business. Fortunately, food safety is a well-studied subject, and you can find many evidence-based data available on the internet to alleviate its risk factors. However, every restaurant owner and chef must go through all the government's guidelines to implement the best food safety practices. For example, if your restaurant business is in the United States, you should go through the FDA Food Code. This will definitely help you to keep in line with the regulations and recommendations from the pertinent governing body.
Follow the 2-Hour Rule
There is no doubt that if foods are left at room temperature for more than a certain timeframe, they can spoil quickly. Food products like meats, dairy products, and sauces can cause serious sickness among consumers if they are left out at room temperature for too long. You must never keep food products out of refrigeration for over 2 hours in your restaurant's professional kitchen. If the temperature of the food product is higher than 90 °F, you should never leave that out of refrigeration for over 1 hour. This rule is backed by scientific evidence based on how quickly bacteria and other harmful microorganisms grow in food products between 40 °F and 140 °F.
Never Keep the Raw and Cooked Food Close
Food products can effortlessly be cross-contaminated. So, if you touch any cooked food after picking up the raw product, there is always a chance of transferring some harmful bacteria to the cooked food from the raw product. Therefore, it is always important to keep the raw and cooked food at a safe distance in your restaurant's professional kitchen.
Keep your equipment and utensils always clean and in good condition
The maintenance and cleaning of the kitchen are essential to avoid contamination and infestation.
Equipment such as stoves, ovens, hoods, and sinks must be cleaned regularly weekly and some every day. In addition, refrigerators and freezers should be checked regularly so that there are no out-of-date products and they are always clean.
Regular inspections are important to keep animals and insects out of the kitchen.
Chefs and cooks should follow food safety rules, wash their hands frequently, and keep their personal equipment clean.
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Food safety may not be the most alluring part of the restaurant business, but it is one of the most important aspects of maintaining its reputation. After going through this article, we hope you'll be well on your way to ensuring that your consumers and employees are safe and healthy in 2022 and beyond.