“Don’t go to that restaurant. I got food poisoning a few weeks ago from there.” If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Each year, foodborne illness affects about 48 million Americans. If your establishment is not focused on making food safety a priority, you could potentially have a foodborne illness outbreak, endangering your customers and harming your business.
Help keep consumers happy and healthy by recognizing the important role food safety plays and implementing safe practices. Here are three practices that, if used, will foster a food safety culture and decrease the risk of customers contracting a foodborne illness.
Use Disposable Gloves Correctly
Gloves play an essential part in food safety. By creating a barrier between your hand and the food you are preparing, clean gloves can prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses. If used incorrectly, they can spread pathogens and other contaminants to the food that could cause illness or disease.
Gloves should be changed after switching tasks, after four continuous hours of use, if they are dirty or torn, or after touching your hair or face. In addition, if you think your gloves might have been contaminated, you should change them. As the old saying goes, when in doubt, throw it out. Hands should always be washed prior to putting gloves on. Failure to do so could result in contamination of the gloves.
Wash Your Hands
Proper hand washing can prevent the spread of pathogens. Other food safety techniques won’t be nearly as effective if they are not combined with good hand washing. Good hand washing begins by scrubbing your hands, under your fingernails, and your lower arms with soap. Dry your hands with a paper towel while avoiding touching the dispenser.
Hands must be washed when switching tasks, and twice after using the restroom. Hands should also be washed if an employee touches their hair or face. New disposable gloves should be put on after washing hands.
Remember to Clean and Sanitize
Using clean and sanitized tools, surfaces, and utensils prevents the spread of harmful bacteria. Cleaning includes using soap and water to remove food, dirt, and pathogens. Sanitizing follows cleaning, killing the bacteria on the clean equipment. It’s important to start with a clean prep station, but equally as important to clean and sanitize after four continuous hours. Four hours is the amount of time that bacteria will grow to harmful levels.
Equipment and surfaces should also be cleaned if there is risk of cross-contamination. Cross contamination occurs when pathogens are unknowingly transferred from one surface or piece of equipment to another or food, which can be potentially harmful. Be sure to clean and sanitize cutting boards after handling raw meat, poultry, fish, or seafood. Wash all fruits and vegetables before placing them on surfaces that will not be cleaned or sanitized before use.
Food safety plays an important role in the reputation of an establishment. Implementing good, safe practices will ensure you are doing all you can to avoid a foodborne illness outbreak. Never give up on food safety; it’s an investment you can’t afford to not make.
For more information about food safety and for other tips, visit StateFoodSafety.com.