As a restaurant owner, you are tasked with ensuring that the people who walk through your doors have a fantastic experience. That means serving them great food at reasonable prices, cultivating a comfortable and welcoming ambiance, and hiring staff who are friendly and helpful. Underneath all these layers of hospitality, however, is another absolutely essential responsibility: keeping your customers safe.
Never has that been truer than it is right now. Yet even as you are stepping up sanitizing and disinfecting efforts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, don’t lose sight of other dangers, such as Campylobacter, salmonella, E.coli and norovirus. Read on for a refresher on foodborne illness prevention.
1. Safety Starts with Your Staff
One of the best preventative measures to guard against the coronavirus is also a trusted, time-honored way to prevent foodborne illness. Proper hand-washing protocol should be a top priority.
Make it easier for employees to wash their hands frequently by installing additional sinks, if necessary. Upgrade to touchless soap dispensers. And if all you have is an air dryer, consider installing a paper towel dispenser as well. Paper towels are generally considered more hygienic than air dryers.
Gloves can also be a good way to keep bacteria at bay. However, they sometimes instill a sense of false security in your team members. Have you ever seen a food service worker scratch their nose or run a hand through their hair while wearing gloves, then return to chopping vegetables or mixing up meatloaf without changing their gloves?
Train your staff in safe glove use. Just because their bare hands aren’t touching the food doesn’t mean that it can’t be contaminated. And be sure that gloves are in ample supply and located conveniently throughout the kitchen.
3. Cross Contamination Is a Major Concern
Anyone who’s ever watched an episode of Kitchen Nightmares knows that storing raw and cooked meats together or using the same utensils to handle both is a big no-no. Not only can cross-contamination lead to foodborne illnesses, but it can also trigger allergies in your customers.
If you are in the food-service industry, there’s no excuse for not being vigilant when it comes to food storage, preparation, and cooking vis-a-vis this type of contamination. Schedule regular refresher courses for all employees as well as frequent kitchen inspections to check for compliance.
3. Don’t Skimp on Sanitation
In the restaurant business, simply cleaning your kitchen and dining area isn’t sufficient to keep germs in their place. You must also disinfect and sanitize. Here’s a breakdown of the role each task plays.
- Cleaning refers to the surface-level crumbs, food scraps, dirt, and debris. When you sweep a floor, you are cleaning it.
- Sanitizing means killing bacteria and viruses on a surface, usually by means of a chemical.
- Disinfecting is a step up from sanitizing. It can be accomplished with chemical preparations or by steam cleaning.
Follow sanitizing and disinfecting protocols to the letter, or better yet, outsource this necessity to a commercial sanitation company. It could mean the difference between a sparkling and safe back of house and a restaurant that’s shut down for health code violations.
Foodborne Illness Prevention: Your Restaurant Depends on It
We get it: buying paper towel dispensers, installing extra handwashing stations, or shelling out for a professional disinfection service isn’t as sexy as chic new barstools or on-trend tableware. Nevertheless, it is vital to the well-being of your business, and therefore to you and your family’s livelihood as well. Stay up-to-date on foodborne illness prevention guidelines and brief your staff on them, too.