Food hygiene and safety should be a top priority in every commercial kitchen. A simple mistake could put the health and safety of both your customers and employees at risk, ultimately leading to the closure of your business.
To ensure your commercial kitchen is safe and hygienic, we’ve put together our top tips for food safety in restaurants and hotels.
Train employees on food safety
Before anything else, it’s important to ensure your employees are fully trained on food safety. It’s good to have the appropriate measures and precautions in place, however, if your employees aren’t clued up on the appropriate food safety rules, you could run the risk of making your customers sick.
Your employees need to be able to identify and eliminate sources of foodborne illness. The most common causes of sickness from food are incorrect holding temperatures, contaminated equipment and inadequate cooking. To meet food health and safety regulations, adequate staff training is essential. Implementing a training program for all employees is key; there are plenty of health and food safety training programs online. Make sure each new member of staff takes the time to complete the training and sign off on it.
It’s also important to make sure you have visual signs at crucial areas of the kitchen (for example, hand-washing signs near the sink). This will help to remind employees of the importance of food safety and hygiene while they’re working.
Keep prep stations clean
Keeping prep stations clean and sanitised is key. Your commercial kitchen should have a designated area for employees to prep food for cooking and it’s important this area is clean, tidy and wiped down regularly to avoid cross-contamination. Bacteria and dust can quickly settle in prep areas and therefore regular cleaning is key.
All chopping boards, surfaces and utensils should be cleaned straight after use. Again, signage and posters can remind employees of the importance of keeping on top of prep areas and regularly wiping them down.
Adopt a first in, first out rule
All commercial kitchens should follow the first in, first out rule. Not only is this a great way to help employees find items more easily, but it will also help to reduce food waste too. The first in, first out rule simply means you need to clearly label food items and ingredients with dates when you store them, and put the older foods in front so they get used first.
Foods with the closest expiry dates should always be placed at the front of the refrigerator so that employees can easily and quickly access them, and to ensure foods with the shortest shelf life get used up first. The refrigerator should also be cleaned out regularly and expired foods should be disposed of correctly.
Wear the correct clothing
Food safety doesn’t stop in the kitchen; it’s important all members of staff are wearing the right clothing before they enter a food preparation area. All caterers, chefs and kitchen staff should change into clean clothes before they enter the kitchen. When handling and working with food, it’s good practice to wear an apron and cooks should also wear a hairnet or chef’s hat to keep hair away from the food.
Aprons will need to be changed after working with raw food, and therefore it’s important to have clean aprons on hand that staff can easily and quickly change into. The correct footwear with suitable grip will prevent slips and trips in the kitchen, whereas chef jackets and trousers will protect chefs from spills and burns.
Colour code equipment
Colour coding equipment and utensils can help prevent cross contamination in the kitchen. Items such as chopping boards, knives, utensils and cleaning equipment should be colour coded using specific colours to eliminate the cross contamination of bacteria across different food types or areas. Using different colours for different food types, such as vegetables and meats, can stop the spread of bacteria and increase the cleanliness of your commercial kitchen.
Although colour coded utensils aren’t a legal requirement, the system is highly recommended and practised widely in the UK. Colour coding chopping boards, knives and tongs will ensure employees can easily identify the correct utensils they need, ensuring they never mix raw meat with vegetables or dairy.
Follow the two hour rule
Food can quickly spoil. Just a few too many minutes sitting near the grill or on the prep table can ruin a dish and quickly make it unsuitable to serve to customers. You should never gamble on whether a food item will be suitable to service after an undetermined period; instead, the two-hour rule should always be followed in commercial kitchens.
Prepared food should not be left out at room temperature for any longer than two hours before leftovers are put into the refrigerator. Any longer than two hours and the food should be disposed of as it may have slipped into the ‘danger zone’ of temperatures, leading to harmful bacteria growth. If you suspect any dishes have been left out for longer than two hours, discard them and use fresh ingredients.
Step up your storage with a walk-in cold room
There are plenty of reasons why every commercial kitchen should have a walk-in cold room; they can increase food safety in your kitchen in a number of ways. Walk-in cold rooms are much larger than standard commercial refrigerators and therefore they can be organised far better. Instead of spending time rummaging around the back of a fridge looking for ingredients, a walk-in room allows employees to access the ingredients they need on foot.
Cold rooms can be organised into different sections; for example, meat, vegetables and dairy. This ensures ingredients can be found quickly and easily and keeps certain food groups away from each other. The temperature of walk-in cold rooms can also be adjusted, making them suitable for a wide range of purposes. As walk-in cold rooms offer greater storage capacity than standard refrigerators, you can store more food and keep items further away from each other.
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We have a wealth of experience in the development, construction and maintenance of cold stores throughout the South West of England. Our in-house design team works closely with the clients from design through to installation, We pride ourselves on offering cost-effective, innovative solutions, including modular, bespoke and portable options. Whether you’re looking for fridge hire or refrigeration maintenance, the experienced team at Ian Hobbs Technical Services Ltd can help.
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