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Food Safety: A Quick Review

Food Safety: A Quick Review

Photo of a man and woman, both in foodservice aprons, standing in a commercial kitchen and smiling. The text "Food Safety: A Quick Review" and the Big Plate logo are over the photo.

We know that food safety is a HUGE priority for your foodservice operation, so we’ve put together a quick food safety review for you (or your team), just to keep everyone fresh on this important subject. This information comes straight from the ServeSafe coursebook, so you know it’s reliable!

Foodborne illnesses (diseases transmitted to people by food) can cost your operation so much:

  • Loss of customers
  • Loss of sales
  • A damaged reputation
  • Negative media exposure
  • Poor staff morale
  • Lawsuits
  • Legal fees
  • Employees missing work
  • Increased insurance premiums

We’re here to help you avoid all these devastating consequences of foodborne illness.

Photo of a man and woman in a commercial kitchen. The man is holding a knife and standing at a cutting board with raw chicken and fresh carrots on him. The woman looks on, disgusted and worried.

Food Contaminants

There are three categories of food contaminants:

Biological – pathogens like viruses, parasites, fungi, and bacteria

Chemical – cleaners, sanitizers, polishers, pesticides, etc.

Physical – foreign objects like metal, bandages, glass, dirt, fish bones, etc.

Food can become contaminated with any of the above in a variety of ways.

A photo of TCS foods, including cheese, eggs, beef, chicken, and fish on a wooden surface.

Foods Most Likely to Become Contaminated

TCS food is food that requires time and temperature control to limit the growth of pathogens. Examples of TCS foods are:

  • Milk and dairy products
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Fish
  • Shellfish & Crustaceans
  • Poultry
  • Baked potatoes
  • Soy proteins (tofu & meat alternatives)
  • Cut fruit and vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Heat-treated plant-based foods (cooked rice, cooked beans, cooked vegetables)
  • Sprouts & sprout seeds
  • Untreated garlic & oil mixtures
Photo of fresh vegetables on a cutting board. A chef's hands are visible cutting the vegetables.

Prevent Contamination

Closely monitor the following areas of your food service operation to prevent contamination and practice food safety.

1. Purchasing

First, purchase food from approved, reputable suppliers. Be confident that your suppliers deliver fresh food and that they receive, hold, and transport the food safely.

2. Prevent Cross Contamination

Second, prevent cross contamination. This happens when contaminated ingredients are added to food that receives no further cooking (intentionally or accidentally), when food touches contaminated surfaces, when a food handler transfers contaminants, or when dirty cloths touch clean surfaces. Color-coded cutting boards can be a huge help in this effort.

3. Practice Good Personal Hygeine

Always practice good personal hygiene. Make sure you have the required hand washing signs at your hand washing sink and in all bathrooms to remind employees of the importance of washing hands. Disposable gloves and a good first aid kit are also essential.

4. Clean and Sanitize Properly

Next, clean and sanitize properly. Make sure you have test strips to ensure your sanitizer solution is mixed correctly.

5. Properly Control Food Temperature

Thaw food properly. You have the option of three safe methods for thawing food: in the refrigerator, under cool running water, or in the microwave (as long as it will be cooked immediately).

Control the temperature of food, the length of time it takes to get to the desired temperature, and the length of time the food is held at the proper temperature. The best tool for this job is a good thermometer. Controlling time and temperature starts with purchasing and receiving. It includes storage, preparation, holding, and handling leftover food.

Cool food quickly. Cool the food to 70°F within 2 hours and to 41°F within the next 4 hours. The total cooling time should not exceed 6 hours. Package food in small, thin quantities to aid in quick cooling. Using stainless steel containers help transfer the heat out of the food faster. Dense foods may also require the help of an ice bath.

Reheat food correctly. TCS foods reheated for hot-holding must reach a temperature of 165°F for 15 seconds. Bring the food to 165°F within 2 hours. This applies for all reheating methods.

Hold hot food at 135°F or higher. Hold cold food at 41°F or colder. Check the temperature of held foods at least every 4 hours to ensure they’ve remained at the proper temperature.

6. Control Pests

Practice regular, effective pest control in your establishment.

7. Train Employees Well

Train your employees well, keep the training material fresh, and inspect your employees and establishment regularly.

Black and white photo of Big Plate Store Manager Matt Nuckolls sitting at a desk and smiling.

In conclusion, Big Plate wishes you all the best as you run a safe and profitable food service business. We are here to help with all your foodservice needs, so feel free to reach out, ask questions, and let us know what you need!

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