Every professional chef dreads the possibility that someone may contract “food poisoning,” or foodborne illness, from his cuisine. Food poisoning prevention entails educating your entire staff and keeping an immaculately clean kitchen and a well-stocked disposable glove dispenser. Damage control after the fact can be extremely complicated and sometimes impossible, so review proper safety measures with your employees frequently to prevent serious consequences for your customers and your business.
Foodborne Illness Facts
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, estimates that 48 million Americans – about one in six – become ill from foodborne disease each year. Of these, 128,000 end up in the hospital and about 3,000 fatalities occur. The elderly, pregnant women and their unborn children, babies and small children, and people with suppressed immune systems are especially at risk. Foodborne illness can cause violent flu-like symptoms, dehydration, malnutrition, and even renal failure. Keeping some fundamental safety rules and maintaining spotlessly clean restaurant supplies and appliances helps chefs and restaurant owners preclude tragedy.
Preventing Foodborne Illness in Your Commercial Kitchen
Review the basics of food safety with your staff at regular intervals, preferably every few months, taking care to also educate each new hire. Make certain that all employees wash their hands frequently, especially after handling raw ingredients or using the restroom. Warm water and soap constitute necessities, and hand washing must last for a minimum of twenty seconds to ensure effectiveness. Explain clearly that raw meat, poultry, and seafood must always stay separate from finished dishes – or, better yet, in their own area entirely. Check your refrigerator and freezer to make sure that they are set below 40° F and at 0° F, respectively. Instruct your staff to wash produce thoroughly, clean sponges and towels, and bleach the counters often. Keep an eye on the clock as well. A staff member may become busy and lose track of how long a dish has been sitting out. Remind everyone that many foods cannot stay at room temperature for more than about two hours. Make good use of your professional meat thermometer. Educate your employees regarding safe food temperatures. Display posters detailing this information: food must not be kept between 40°F and 140°F; poultry needs to have an internal temperature of 180°F if whole and 165°F if ground; the correct temperature for red meats is 145°F; and pork, ground beef, and ground veal require a temperature of 160°F.
Following these guidelines will result in a safer, healthier food preparation environment. Taking food poisoning prevention measures protects your customers’ health and your establishment’s reputation.