Many of the food safety hazards that occur in restaurants are preventable. Food safety threats may include cross-contamination, where one food comes in contact with another contaminated food. Items like chemicals, spices, and raw animal products can also pose health risks for employees and patrons when not stored properly.
To help ensure the safety of your employees and customers, you must create a food safety plan that outlines necessary measures to implement to eliminate these hazards. Employees, managers, and owners should review this plan regularly to ensure it is current and up to date.
To give you a better idea, here are seven things to consider when creating your food safety plan:
1. Food Preparation And Cooking Procedures
Food preparation and cooking procedures are critical to your food safety program, including all activities within your establishment. These may include using only commercially prepared ingredients in your food operations, where possible.
If you must use homemade ingredients, be sure they’re processed in a manner that does not pose risks to human health. For instance, you may include a guide to proper cooking temperatures that will destroy harmful bacteria.
Join Our Small Business Community
Get the latest news, resources and tips to help you and your small business succeed.
2. Food Safety Inspection Procedures
A certified food service manager or supervisor must inspect all food items. The manager or supervisor shall verify that each item is safe for consumption and has been appropriately labeled and date marked. They will ascertain that all food items are stored correctly and by the establishment’s required temperature control plan.
In this section, you may also indicate that the food service manager or supervisor must perform food inspections of all food preparation areas. The inspection process may include assessing whether your staff follows the proper procedure of separating raw and cooked ingredients to prevent contamination from microorganisms during the food preparation.
You may also include the detection of contaminants using equipment like ultraviolet light or x-ray. Some contaminants that a food x-ray can detect may consist of metal fragments, pieces of glass, and hard plastics. If any contamination is detected, the manager or supervisor can investigate it to identify the source of contamination and prevent it from happening again.
3. Serving Practices
You must implement serving practices in your restaurant’s food safety plan because they can make a big difference in your customers’ safety. For example, suppose you have a buffet line catering to numerous customers or a self-serve hot bar. In that case, many nosocomial pathogens are likely to be transmitted from person to person.
Thus, in the ‘Serving Practices’ section, you can include requiring your employees to wear hairnets and gloves, and wash their hands thoroughly before handling food. You may also require a handwashing sink for your staff with clean running water and antibacterial soap. Make sure the sink is accessible and nothing is blocking it. This can prevent contamination through hands, fingers, and other objects.
If a dishwasher isn’t available, your staff may use a hot-water dispenser or sink with a suitable spray nozzle to wash by hand. Instead of using paper towels or cloths that are prone to contamination when handling food, this strategy can help prevent cross-contamination.
4. Temperature Control Guide
Temperature control is vital in restaurant food safety because it can prevent foodborne illnesses caused by bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella. Improper temperatures can lead to bacteria growth and spoilage, which can cause severe issues for both employees and customers.
This guide may include information on the appropriate temperatures for different types of food, such as keeping all potentially hazardous foods (PHFs), like ready-to-eat foods, below 41 degrees Fahrenheit (for cold foods) or above 135 degrees Fahrenheit (for hot foods). These include foods from outside sources brought into your premises if you don’t have an adequate cold chain established.
This section may also include how to use and operate your temperature control equipment. For instance, your staff must know how to properly use insulated coolers or freezers to maintain the required temperature for the PHFs in them. They must also know how to keep track of time when removing PHFs from these devices and to cool them down before storage or delivery.
5. Frozen Food Storage
Frozen food needs to be kept in proper storage areas because they’re perishable and will spoil quickly if not stored properly. You must include a ‘Frozen Food Storage’ section in your restaurant food safety plan to prevent foodborne illnesses.
This section may also discuss how you should handle frozen food items that are past their expiry date or that have not been properly stored.
6. Wastewater Treatment System Plan
If you have a facility where you prepare, cook, and serve food, you must have a wastewater treatment system. Wastewater treatment systems are designed to remove harmful bacteria from leftover cooking liquids and other by-products so they don’t contaminate the environment or become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
This section may include a clear plan for how the wastewater will be disposed of. For instance, you may indicate how often your staff will filter the wastewater and the type of filter used. You may also include a list of chemicals used in your facility to address any concerns related to their use, which might affect the maintenance of your wastewater treatment system.
7. Food Handler Training
Food handlers must know how to handle food properly, cook food safely, and maintain proper sanitary conditions. Therefore, they must go through appropriate training to be familiar with their duties, which means they must be trained extensively in sanitation and safety procedures.
Your food safety plan’s Food Handler Training section must include background checks on all employees handling food. You may also include fingerprinting and criminal record checks as part of the process. These checks ensure that each employee knows what they are doing before starting work at your restaurant and handling food served to customers.
A food safety plan is something you should have in place for your restaurant, and this serves as a checklist to follow for your food business.
This also gives you a framework to ensure that everything is running smoothly while helping you avoid any significant issues that may arise regarding food safety. This way, you can work with your staff members and ensure that your ingredients and food stay safe and clean from day one.