When you own or work at a food establishment, be it fast food, sit-down, or anything in between, food safety hazards and food safety compliance are a major issue that is crucial to avoid at all costs.
The last thing anyone wants is customers or employees becoming ill from a mistake that proper education could have helped avoid.
From when you’re storing ingredients, to touching the food before it is cooked, to cooking the food, to how you are storing the food after it is cooked, there are many factors to consider to avoid a potential foodborne hazard during these processes.
To start, be sure your employees have their permits in place, and if needed, enroll them in an online food handler card training to meet your state requirements, ensuring staff and customers are safe from foodborne illnesses.
How do you keep it all straight and maintain an informed staff?
Proper education and an effective food safety plan should be the backbone of your business. Learn more about the three most common food safety hazards you will avoid by having a properly executed plan.
Table of Contents
1. Food Served or Held at Unsafe Temperatures
When a properly-executed food safety plan is in place, guidelines prevent potential illness, and safety is ensured. The following points are some of the scenarios that lead to illness-causing bacteria and toxins:
- Hot food held at a temperature that is too low
- Cold food not held at a temperature that is cold enough
- Fluctuating temperatures (improperly-working refrigeration or freezer unit)
- Hot food not cooled completely before placing in cooler
It is of the utmost importance that you closely monitor all of your equipment to ensure that it is set at the proper temperature and is working correctly.
2. Cross-Contamination of Allergens
Proper guidelines to avoid cross-contamination are included in well-written plans, leaving far less risk of dangerous cross-contamination.
The following points are some ways that could lead to cross-contamination:
- A utensil used to handle pecans (tree nuts) is unlabeled and used for another item
- A knife used to cut a sandwich with nuts is not washed and used for a sandwich without nuts
- An item supposed to be gluten-free is prepared on a surface not dedicated as such and is not properly cleaned
- A blender containing almond milk then used to blend something with dairy milk
Allergens are simple to avoid in most cases, and it is critical that you do everything you can to avoid potential, serious reactions from intolerance or sensitivity-based food hazards.
3. Improper Cleaning or Preparation Procedures
The best-written guide is nothing without proper cleaning instruction. Some of the most harmful food safety hazards stem from cleaning procedures not taken seriously.
The following are just a few of the harmful scenarios caused by negligent cleaning:
- The surface used to prepare raw chicken is not cleaned/sanitized but is then used for fully-cooked chicken
- Gloves worn to handle raw meat are not changed to handle produce
- The container used to hold an expired product reused to hold fresh product
These three examples are just the tip of the iceberg of what needs to be taken into consideration when running a restaurant.
Developing your safety plan gives you peace of mind, your employees the proper education, and your customers the guarantee of safety.
How to Develop a Food Safety Plan
You will develop your food safety plan in accordance with FSMA rules. The FDA created the Food Safety Modernization Act for the sole purpose of creating a standard to keep people safe from food-related illness.
Once you have familiarized yourself with the rules, it will be easier to think of your business objectively.
Websites provide guidelines and resources that may be helpful for the development of your plan.
Successfully Avoiding Food Safety Hazards
Now that you know more about food safety hazards, the food safety plan, and proper food safety plan compliance measures, you’re ready to handle it all.
Not only does a proper plan give you the feeling of power and confidence, but it also gives you the positive feeling that you have done all you can for your customers.
Before you go, check out our other helpful articles for more tips and tricks for business and life!