In the age of social media, potential customers scrutinize food businesses very closely. Food safety is one of the critical parameters; therefore, there is a business case for it. Food businesses must show that their food handling and preparation processes are safe. This guarantee of safety necessitates correct training, storage, and food handling procedures.
Importance of food safety practices
Food safety ensures that food contamination, that can affect people’s health, does not happen. Poor personal hygiene of personnel, unclean equipment, low-quality ingredients, and improper storage temperatures can spoil the reputation of businesses. This calls for a strong need to maintain food safety.
Government agencies closely monitor food businesses for this purpose. Food businesses may be served notices or shut down if they do not follow regulations. If a food business follows food safety regulations properly, it gains customer trust.
Government food safety rules
Some common principles across countries are based on the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The regulations are meant to be flexible to the size of a food business, enforcement, and local measures. Local agencies propagate user guides to ensure that your business complies with the regulations.
For example, the apex authority in the USA is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Governed by the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code 2017 mandates the person in charge of a food business to ensure that correct temperatures are maintained throughout the food handling process – cooking, cooling, and holding.
In Australia, the corresponding legislation is known as the Food Standards Code. A key regulation is that food businesses should be responsible for the training and knowledge of food handlers regarding matters of food safety and food hygiene.
Best practices to ensure food safety
There are four standard practices for food safety – clean, separate, cook, and chill.
Food handlers must wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with regular soap and warm water before food preparation. They should also keep their tools dry and clean.
Keep poultry, eggs, seafood, and raw meat separated from other ingredients. Wash containers and utensils used for these materials in hot soapy water before using them for other ingredients.
Each food type has a specific internal temperature range. These temperature ranges ensure that there are no microorganisms in the food. Food handlers must check the internal temperature after cooking. If the food is not in this range, it must not be served to the customer.
The chilling temperature should be below 4°C and the freezing temperature should be below 0°C. Temperature sensors help to ensure that the required temperature is maintained.
Best food practices for specific categories
Here are a few examples of specific food practices that can be followed to ensure food safety:
Fruits and vegetables
- Cut out spoiled or damaged areas.
- Even if the outer skin is peeled off, rinse under running water before preparation.
- If the manufacturer has labeled them as pre-washed, do not wash fruits and vegetables.
- Check for insects and pests like weevils.
- Store at 10°C to 21°C temperatures in a dark, well-ventilated area.
- Use airtight containers instead of cardboard boxes for storage.
- Keep them at least 15 centimeters (6 inches) above the floor.
- Use a humidity sensor to keep the humidity levels at or below 55%
- Remove the parts with freezer burn.
- Frozen goods must be thawed in a microwave, cold water, or refrigerator.
- Frozen food must be thoroughly cooked.
- Do not refreeze before thawing food properly.
- Freeze food at its highest quality and not toward the end of its shelf life.
- Specifically for vegetables, blanch by putting them in boiling water and then in iced water before freezing.
- Avoid products containing unpasteurized milk, except for specific hard cheeses older than 60 days.
- Once taken out, dairy products must not be returned to their original containers.
- The general temperature for chilling is below 4°C; keep ice creams frozen at or below 0°C (do not freeze yogurt, cream, or normal milk; you can freeze skimmed or fresh whole milk)
- For the first two weeks, you can keep butter in the refrigerator below 4°C. After that, it must be wrapped in packaging and frozen at or below 0°C.
- Shelf-stable milk can be stored at room temperature before opening; after opening, it should be chilled in the refrigerator at below 4°C.
- If there is mold on soft cheese (like Brie, Feta, and cottage cheese), discard it entirely. If there is mould on hard cheese (like Gouda, Parmesan, Swiss), remove the affected and surrounding areas.
Pro-tip to automate the process
Food safety is a detailed and cumbersome process. With KNOW’s Restaurant Management Software, you can easily keep track of your daily operations, training, and handovers. KNOW can also help you always be audit-ready by digitizing documentation, automating your recurring processes, and saving hours of time spent on manual tasks.