If you own and operate a business that handles the storage and handling of food products, it’s important to keep in mind the safety and consequences of this business. Not only is it unsanitary to improperly store and handle your food items, but it can also be dangerous for your staff and your customers due to the many types of food-bourne illnesses that result from mishandling the food. The following list will help you be educated on how to store and handle your food for the overall health and benefits of your business, staff, and customers. This is vital information you need to know and remember when handling food.
Causes of Foodborne Illnesses
There are a variety of things that can lead to foodborne illnesses, many of which can be extremely dangerous. This includes the failure to cook your food properly, not storing cold foods in the right temperature, poor personal hygiene by the food preparers, keeping raw and contaminated food or ingredients near other foods that will be served to customers, food items sitting too long at bacterial-inducing temperatures, and not keeping a clean kitchen. By paying attention to the temperatures you store your food, making sure the kitchen and staff is always clean and hygienic, and being especially careful with raw food, you can avoid foodborne illnesses.
Proper Food Storage and Handling Tips
- Read packaged food labels before using them to ensure they are not past their due date.
- Keep your refrigerated items dated and check them often to dispose of outdated food items.
- Inspect foods carefully for signs of spoilage; if they look damaged or spoiled, dispose of them immediately, as well as any other foods that may have been contaminated by them.
- Keep your kitchen clean and sanitized, including wiping down food surfaces every four hours, as well as after raw food was handed on the surface, and when switching food products.
- When storing your food items, place the new items near the back, and move the older items near the front so that you can use these first and easily dispose of old food.
- Inspect your refrigeration system once a week to be sure it is running properly and at the right temperature. Cold food should be stored at 40 degrees and frozen food should be stored at 0 degrees.
- Do not overload refrigerators or freezers because it can cause a fluctuation in refrigeration temperature. Be sure doors are always closed tightly.
- Keep chemicals away from food products as well as food handling surfaces, and always label chemicals properly. Your Material Safety Data Sheets should also be posted where all employees can view them.
- Educate yourself on proper internal temperatures to avoid undercooking food, especially meat. For example, fish should reach 145 degrees, chicken should reach 180 degree, ground beef and ground pork should reach 160 degrees, and non-ground beef and pork should reach 145 degrees.
- Staff should always be hygienic, which includes washing their hands thoroughly after using the restroom, handling raw food, coughing or sneezing, eating, and smoking.
By educating your staff of these important guidelines for food storage and handling safety, you can avoid foodborne illnesses that may affect employees and customers. These are not merely tips; they are strict guidelines set forth for the safety of your business.