Food safety is of utmost importance for restaurants, catering companies and other food services organizations. One food poisoning episode can effectively tear a good reputation in shreds – a reputation you have worked hard to gain. As a restaurant owner or manager, part of the job description is to be vigilant when it comes to ensuring that food safety and sanitation procedures are followed at all times. Otherwise, your staff can easily make mistakes that can jeopardize your restaurant’s food safety standards.
Here are some common mistakes that you should be on the lookout for:
- Overloading the refrigerators. Your staff may think that cramming as much inventory into the refrigerators is being space-efficient. It is not. A cramped refrigerator results in poor circulation of the cool air. The containers stuck in the center may not maintain the necessary temperature they need so that they don’t spoil. Be sure to leave ample room in between items. Of course, freezers are a different case, as keeping the freezer full helps it do its work more efficiently.
- Poor labeling procedures. HACCP has procedures on how restaurant staff should label ingredients, especially those where the packaging has been opened. Also, when storing inventory, follow the first-in, first-out method so that you ensure that the oldest stock is used first. Make sure that expiration dates are also noted when transferring the raw ingredients into a new container. The same goes for cleaning materials, detergents and pesticides – these should have clear labels as well.
- Forgetting to clean the less-obvious areas. Sometimes, it is easy to miss areas that are not as noticeable. These include the flatware caddy, walls, counter cracks, ventilation filters, exhaust hoods, as well as nooks and crannies of the kitchen equipment. These can house insects and vermin, as well as grime and other contaminants that may compromise food safety. You should also take the time to regularly clean and sanitize key food equipment such as fillers and slicers. This can be a challenge, since you will need to take these apart. However, you need to make time to do this for food safety purposes.
- Failing to treat and respond to injuries immediately. The kitchen is a place where nicks, burns and wounds are common. No matter how busy a staff member is, they should immediately get treatment for injuries, particularly when these are on the lower arms or on the hands. They should also don safety gloves until the injury has completely healed.
- Taking short-cuts in hand washing. Because the kitchen is a bustling place, it can be tempting to take the quick way out. A staff member may haphazardly wash his hands or skip hand washing altogether. If there are no available single-use napkins, he may simply choose to wipe his hands on his apron or reuse an available dishtowel.
- Forgetting about water supply issues. Be on the lookout for any warnings regarding water issues, especially when you are using the water for your ice maker. If there are any potential problems with the water supply, you can temporarily use bottled water or, at the very least, boil the water first before using it.
Most of these mistakes can be easily remedied by personnel training and by instilling a culture of safety among the staff. Schedule regular training sessions for personnel and ensure that all new additions are up to speed about your procedures.