Focusing on safety is extremely important in the foodservice industry. Food safety is an integral part of maintaining an experience that your customers will love. Here is how to make sure that safety is at the forefront of your storage design and processes.
FIFO (First In First Out)
To ensure that ingredients remain fresh while also limiting waste, enact the first-in, first-out rule in your restaurant. When placing new ingredients into storage areas, old products should always be moved to the front for easy access and monitoring. This rotation helps put together an organized storage system while also making sure ingredients are used before they become expired or rotten. This rule is an efficient way to keep a clean and sanitary kitchen environment.
To implement a proper first in, first out system, the first thing you need to do is properly reorganize. Each item should have its own designated space. Each ingredient should also be clearly marked with a proper labeling system. People who have never been in the kitchen should be able to figure out where each item is meant to go.
To add even more organization to this process, consider using dividers to create individual cubbies for each supply. By making this small investment, you can rest easy knowing that your supply areas are being monitored properly.
When prepping to serve your customers for the day, one of the worst mistakes you can make is cross-contamination. Contamination is a dangerous mistake. There is nothing worse than a restaurant experience that ends in illness due to process issues in the kitchen. Here are some things you can do to avoid causing contamination.
One of the easiest places for cross-contamination to occur is within your cooler. Coolers house a dangerous mixture of both cooked and raw foods that, when placed incorrectly, can directly lead to cross contamination. To prevent this, keep your cooler clean and follow the cooler hierarchy. The cooler hierarchy shows how to organize products in the safest way possible to avoid contamination.
During the prep phase invest in color-coded tools. By simply making it company policy to use a blue cutting board and knife when cutting raw fish, you can help limit cross-contamination in your prep process.
Raw – Raw Red Meat
Yellow – Poultry
Blue – Seafood
Black- Cooked Meat
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to contamination is allergens. Keeping track of ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction is extremely important for the safety of your patrons. When it comes to dangerous ingredients, be sure that they are kept in their own area and easy to spot when staff is cooking. Food allergens that should be monitored include- tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, seafood, dairy, eggs, wheat, and soy.
These items should be used with caution, and staff made aware of their potential dangers. Reminders should be placed near these products in the form of a label or color. A color that is commonly used to point to food as an allergen is purple.
These allergens should have individual areas set aside for prep and specific cutting boards and tools associated with them.
Finally, invest in training. Managers and workers should be well trained in kitchen safety. Programs like Servsafe provide all the training your teams needs to have a full understanding of maintaining a safe environment.
Maintain a CLEAN work Environment
Please keep it CLEAN. One of the worst things a restaurant can do is keep an unclean back-of-house operation. This is not an easy task, but it is possible if you invest in the right tools.
To help make cleaning easier for your staff, invest in storage solutions that are designed to be cleaned.
Believe it or not, some storage solutions are not equipped to handle the regular cleaning that needs to be done in your restaurant. To avoid corrosion and contamination caused by your storage, make sure that your solutions are built to handle a kitchen environment. Before buying your shelving or worktable, be sure that it has a corrosion-resistant finish or material.
When it comes to building a proper process for cleaning, make sure that there are organized, written expectations for your staff to follow. By creating a checklist with all of the tasks that need to be done, you create a repetitive system that will keep everyone on track.
Though it has been addressed in other areas of this article, labeling is still important enough that it constitutes the need for its own category. Properly labeling food is an imperative part of creating a safe experience.
When prepping, each item should be labeled with the date it was prepped and the date it should be discarded.
Having a proper system for dating product will help ensure that old prepped goods won’t make it to your customer’s tables.
When it comes to storage, ensure that labels are present in coolers, freezers, and dry storage areas. Providing labels on shelves to map out where individual products are stored is a great way to create a friendly space to anyone who comes to work in the kitchen.
One of the greatest skills you can teach foodservice employees is proper food-handling hygiene.
All of the precaution taken in design and cleaning are for naught if your staff is unaware of the hygienic practices they should be following.
First, staff should be washing their hands and changing their gloves between each prep item. Staff should also be washing their hands whenever they do any out of kitchen activity.
Activities that should be followed by handwashing include
- Eating during break
- Going to the restroom
- Handling trash
- Handling cellphone
- Handling dirty dishes
- Sneezing, blowing your nose, coughing
- Opening doors
- Prep especially raw meat and fish
To properly wash hands make sure that hands are scrubbed for at least 20-30 seconds with hot soapy water. You should be scrubbing your hands for the equivalent of the Happy Birthday song. When washing hands be sure to put some focus on your wrists and forearms as well. If it has a chance of touching the food it should be washed.
Employees should also be very careful about their actions around food. Make sure that sneezes and coughs are fully covered and if there is a chance that the food may be contaminated it should be discarded.
When it comes to uniforms it is essential that employee uniforms are clean for use every shift. Dried old food on a uniform is not only unsightly it can cause contamination when touching orders from that day. Keeping a professional and clean appearance is not just pleasing to the customer’s eye it is imperative to maintain a safe environment.
For a restaurant you can be proud of, build a safe environment through proper storage and actions.
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