One of the most important rules in food preparation (other than always washing your hands, of course) is a rule that picky kids all over the world have been telling us for centuries: “Don’t let my food touch!” That’s right, it’s important to keep foods separated during storage and preparation. Separate all food from chemicals, keep ready-to-eat food away from raw food, store food at least 6 inches off of the floor, and be sure to clean and sanitize your cutting board at least every 4 hours.
Managers: You may want to take some time out of your busy schedule to reemphasize these important practices in order to avoid foodborne illness outbreaks at your restaurant. Try introducing this Keep ‘Em Separated Poster to your staff and briefly running through the practices it describes.
Download Image: Keep ‘Em Separated Poster
Don’t Store Food with Chemicals
Store food and chemicals separately to keep food from becoming contaminated by the chemicals. Chemically contaminated food can lead to a number of illnesses and bodily injuries, some of which can be very severe.
Store Ready-To-Eat Food Away from Raw Food
The same goes for storing raw food with ready to eat food: keep them separated. Normally, the bacteria in uncooked food will be cooked out once heated to proper temperatures, but when that same bacteria comes into contact with ready to eat foods, the food will never be heated to a point that will kill the bacteria. Bacteria, like Salmonella and E. coli, are commonly found on certain meats. Each type of meat has an assigned cooking temperature to help kill off the particular bacteria common to that meat. When these bacteria are not heated up and killed off properly, they can grow to dangerous levels.
Some pathogens are easily spread by pests like flies. When a fly lands on your food, it is possible for it to transfer pathogens that it picked up from a source, like the bathroom, directly to your food. Therefore, it is always recommended to keep food covered prior to serving in order to protect it from airborne threats.
Store Food at Least 6 Inches off the Floor
Food, even packaged food, stored directly on the floor is extremely susceptible to infestation and disturbance by bugs and rodents. When food is that easily accessible, pests break into packages and eat the contents; some pests may even choose to make the food container their home. For this reason, the rule is to keep all food stored at least six inches off the floor.
Be sure to go over the other tips included in this poster, which deal with proper cleaning and sanitizing practices. When followed, these practices can help keep bacteria and other harmful substances from contaminating the food you prepare, which in turn, helps keep your customers safe.
This poster can be a great tool to help keep these practices in mind. Hang it up in a place where all who handle food will see it regularly; and follow up regularly to ensure that your staff is following these practices effectively. Also, feel free to check out our other food handling and work safety posters we have available at no cost to you. And, as always, be safe!
— Thomas Larsen