Keeping restaurant customers healthy is a large part of keeping them happy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates restaurants and distributes guidelines for safe food preparation and storage. The new version of the FDA’s food code came out in 2009 and updates several requirements. The code applies to more than 1 million restaurants and retail food outlets as well as institutions, including schools and hospitals.
1- Food Safety Management System
The FDA recommends a safety system for restaurant operators, known as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. The system includes seven principles that manage every step of food storage and preparation. It’s designed to help restaurant staff prevent food borne illnesses and ensure safe food preparation, such as first-in, first-out procedures that recommend using products in the order purchased.
2- Safe Food Storage
Storing food at proper temperatures helps eliminate biological hazards, which include bacterial, viral and parasitic microorganisms. Restaurant kitchen staff should be well versed in safe practices, and kitchens should have signs posted that list safe procedures and storage temperatures for all types of food.
3- Safe Food Preparation
The FDA recognizes that restaurants have specific challenges, such as staff turnover and varied menus, that make it difficult to monitor all food items. The agency recommends operators focus on three food preparation processes: no-cook foods, same day service foods and foods with complex preparation. Each process has an established flow that controls the temperature of the food at every step; from the time it is received until it is served. Foods in each process pass through the danger zone a different number of times. The temperature danger zone is between 41 F and 135 F as foods at these temperatures are subject to pathogens.
4- Human Contact
Because restaurant workers also can spread food borne illnesses, the FDA recommends four key safety precautions. Food should not be touched with bare hands, instead a pre-approved procedure, such as food safe gloves, is necessary. Workers should practice proper hand washing procedures. Ill employees should be excluded or restricted from food preparation. And workers should prevent cross-contamination by keeping ready-to-eat food and sanitized food-contact surfaces apart from raw animal foods or dirty cutting boards, utensils and other objects.
5- Food Allergies
Another source of customer illness is food allergens. Scientific research shows that a group of major allergens causes 90 percent or more of all food allergies. This list includes milk; egg; fish, such as bass, flounder or cod; crustacean shellfish, such as crab, lobster, or shrimp; tree nuts, such as almonds, pecans, or walnuts; wheat; peanut; and soybeans. Notifying customers about the presence of these foods may cut down on adverse reactions.
Originaly published in: Chron
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