Promote Food Safety in your Restaurant

Focusing on safety is extremely important in the foodservice industry. As a highly competitive and dynamic industry that demands high customer satisfaction to succeed, it is essential to prioritize food safety to maintain trust and loyalty among your customers.

Food safety is integral to maintaining an experience that your customers will love. One or two bad experiences with illness might lose you a few customers. However, multiple food safety outbreaks could ruin your reputation, possibly shutting your doors for good.

Creating a food safety culture is important to maintain your restaurant's high standards and retain your customers' trust. Wonder where to start? Here is how to ensure safety is at the forefront of your storage design and processes.

Promote Food Safety in your Restaurant

1. FIFO (First In, First Out)

To ensure that ingredients remain fresh while 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.

Rotating inventory this way helps create an organized storage system while ensuring ingredients are used before they expire or rot. This rule is an efficient way to keep a clean and sanitary kitchen environment.

To implement a proper first-in, first-out system, you need to properly reorganize your current restaurant storage space. Start by giving each item its own designated space. Each ingredient should also be clearly marked with a proper labeling system.

Think of your organization through this lens: people who have never been in the kitchen should be able to figure out where each item is meant to go. Organization is the cornerstone of restaurant food safety.

To add even more organization to this process, consider using dividers to create individual cubbies for each supply. By making this small investment in time and resources, you can rest easy knowing that your supply areas are being monitored properly, contributing to your restaurant's overall health and safety.

2. Limit Cross-Contamination

When prepping to serve your customers for the day, cross-contamination is one of the worst mistakes you can make. It’s important to remember that contamination is a dangerous mistake. Nothing is worse than a restaurant experience that ends in illness due to process issues in the kitchen.

Following proper restaurant food storage guidelines is important. Here are some things you can do to avoid causing contamination:

Cooler Organization

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.

Looking for a safe cooler storage solution? Check out our options here.

Prep Phase

During the prep phase, invest in color-coded tools to promote food safety. 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.

Color Guide:

Red – Raw Red Meat

Yellow – Poultry

Blue – Seafood

Green – Vegetables

Black – Cooked Meat

Allergy Awareness

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to contamination and food safety is allergens. Keeping track of ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction is extremely important for the health and safety of your patrons.

When it comes to dangerous ingredients, ensure they are kept in their own area and easy to spot when the 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 for prep and specific cutting boards and associated tools.

Staff Training

Finally, invest in training. Managers and workers should be well trained in kitchen safety. Programs like ServSafe provide all the training your team needs to have a full understanding of maintaining a safe environment.

3. 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, ensure 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 the tasks that need to be done, you create a repetitive system that keeps everyone on track.

4. Proper Labeling

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 for your restaurant patrons.

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 products 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 for anyone who comes to work in the kitchen, especially new employees.

5. Employee Hygiene

One of the greatest skills you can teach foodservice employees is proper food-handling hygiene.

All the precautions 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 wash 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, but it can also 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 maintaining a safe environment.

Metro Can Help You Maintain Food Safety In Your Restaurant

For a restaurant you can be proud of, build a safe environment through proper storage and actions. When you focus on food safety, you help create an environment that is safe and enjoyable for your staff and customers alike.

To view Metro’s full range of foodservice solutions that help promote health and safety in restaurants, visit our website