Food Safety Tips Everyone Should Practice
Food Safety procedures are the most important element to any kitchen or food business. Without these procedures, the risk of infections and foodborne illness increases exponentially.
Those who are new to the kitchen present a higher risk of spreading these illnesses. A major factor leading to this elevated risk is lack of knowledge on proper food safety practices.
In an effort to keep you, your coworkers, and those you serve safe, here are 5 important food safety tips to bring with you into the kitchen.
It seems easy enough to understand, but so many food service workers forget the basic principles of cleanliness in the workplace. Hand washing is the easiest and most effective way to prevent the spread of diseases and foodborne illness. But food safety isn’t dedicated solely to hand washing. Washing fruits and vegetables, workstations, cutting boards, and utensils prior to use all plays a key role in preventing foodborne illness.
It’s completely normal to scratch the itch on your nose or face. However, when you’re in the kitchen or food service industry, this simple act can lead to major problems. When you touch your face, lick some food off your fingers, or touch another person, you increase the risk of spreading disease.
Washing your hands after touching any part of your body will decrease the risk of spreading foodborne illness.
Proper hand washing when it comes to food safety involves scrubbing your hands under warm soapy water for 20 seconds. There’s not a predetermined amount of times a food service worker should wash their hands per shift. However, approved hand washing procedures should occur after each of these scenarios:
- After each trip to the restroom
- Before leaving or entering the kitchen
- Before and after preparing foods
- Tending to a sick person
- Touching an animal
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- Before and after touching raw meat, eggs, poultry, fish or their juices
- Before putting on food safe gloves
Cleaning surfaces is another vital element to ensure food safety and prevent food borne illness. Each surface that comes in contact with raw meat, raw eggs, poultry, fish, or their juices should be thoroughly sanitized before moving to the next stage of food prep.
Scrub each surface with hot soapy water and wipe it clean with a paper towel. Dishcloths only harbor hidden viruses and will not prevent the spread of disease. If you choose to use a dishcloth in cleaning surfaces, it should be placed in the hottest water possible in a washing machine before it can safely be used again.
Surface cleaning isn’t restricted to the kitchen. Door knobs and handles, walls, table tops, money, and credit cards all carry viruses and potentially harmful microorganisms.
Conistent cleaning and disinfecting surfaces will lead to a healthier food environment and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.
Knives, cutting boards, slicers, and other kitchen utensils will all come in contact with raw and potentially harmful foods. To ensure you’re using proper food safety techniques, each utensil should be clean before and after each use.
Faucets, handles, and sinks should be kept clean as well. To clean them effectively, use hot soapy water and a paper towel to dry.
Most kitchens and food establishments have health service approved cleaning supplies for hands, utensils, and equipment. No matter what type of soap or cleaning supply is provided, it’s up to you to ensure you’re using them properly and as often as you should.
While you may not bring your entire house with you to the kitchen, microorganisms on your clothing, shoes, and hair follow you around. These invisible organisms can spread a disease faster than you can blink.
Keeping a clean car and home can prevent the spread of these disease carrying organisms.
Your car interior reflects your own personal hygiene efforts. And since your car is where you spend most of your time before work, remove food debris, beverages, and trash often.
Cleaning bed linens, clothing, kitchens and bathrooms on a regular basis will not only keep you and your household healthier, it will also aid in the prevention of food borne illnesses.
Food Safety for Life
One in six Americans are affected by foodborne illness every year. These illnesses include salmonella, norovirus, staphylococcus, and others. Most of these illnesses remove themselves from the body within 48 hours. However, some food borne illnesses such as Listeria and E. coli may require hospitalization.
While not every case of food poisoning is avoidable in many cases it can be prevented with proper food handling procedures. Surface cleaning, utensil handling, and overall good hygiene are among the leading elements of food safety.
But hand washing reigns supreme.
The best way to practice proper food safety through hand washing is to lead by example. Washing your hands in the kitchen, bathroom, and at home will start an effective hygienic routine. Encourage coworkers, family members, and roommates to wash their hands often as well.
With the spread of hand washing and overall cleanliness, the spread of foodborne illness can be reduced drastically.
Are you practicing good hand washing procedures?