By Brian Montgomery
Making sure your business complies with food safety regulations doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. According to the FDA, and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) most outbreaks of foodborne illnesses in commercial food service businesses in the United states can be traced back to at least one of 5 risk factor trends. Let's look at the factors and some simple, inexpensive products that can help you reduce the risks!
Purchasing Food From Unsafe Sources
What exactly constitutes an unsafe source these days? Following the news coverage it seems like large, well-known suppliers are just as susceptible to problems as smaller or less "reputable" suppliers. So what can you do? Know what to look for when your shipments come in. Check the "use by" dates and expiration dates to make sure you're not getting old product. Make sure the packaging is intact, and that the product is arriving at the correct temperature. Then put the food away as soon as possible. A probe thermometer is a must-have tool for anyone receiving your food. We have a great selection of probe thermometers so your staff is prepared to receive food properly!
Improper Holding Practices
Hot food needs to be hot enough, and cold food needs to be cold enough. Generally, Hot food needs to be held at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter, and cold food at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower--However your local regulatory requirements might differ slightly, so it's best to check.
Again, a probe thermometer is your friend for checking temperatures. A refrigerator/freezer thermometer is an inexpensive backup check to make sure your coolers and freezers are working properly.
If you need to cool something that you've prepared for use later, keep in mind that you want to cool it as quickly as possible. A cooling paddle that can be filled with ice is a great way to rapidly cool soups, sauces and more.
I won't put in another shameless plug for thermometers... oh wait, I just did. Make sure you understand your local regulators' temperature requirements for different types of food. Always check the temperature in the thickest part, and in at least two different places.
The issue of contaminated equipment can mean two things. First, it can refer to cross-contamination, where a piece of equipment like a cutting board is used for two different things without proper washing and sanitizing in between. Color coded cutting boards are an inexpensive and easy way to prevent this type of cross contamination, as each color can represent a different type of food that should be cut on the board. Color coding kitchen items for different uses is a great part of a HACCP plan. Our color coded cutting boards are available in various sizes to meet your needs.
Properly sanitizing kitchen equipment is the other way to reduce the risk of contaminated equipment. That can mean making sure your commercial dishwasher is operating properly for items that get run through, testing for the proper concentration of sanitizing solution in your 3 compartment sink, or properly cleaning and sanitizing equipment that can't get washed in a dish washer or pot sink. Noble Chemical's Quicksan is a ready to use sanitizing spray in a quart size bottle that is great for sanitizing work tables, built-in cutting boards, or just about any hard surface!
Poor Personal Hygiene
Making sure all your employees wash their hands properly and often is a key to improving personal hygiene. Our foaming hand soaps and dispensers are effective, easy to use, and economical. You can even get a FREE hand soap dispenser when you buy two cases of qualifying hand soaps.
Disposable hats, hairnets, and of course disposable gloves are also extremely important. And it's always best to lead by example and train new employees properly.
You can find all these products and more at super-low prices on our food safety supplies page!