Food Safety

Masking Tape for Lunch? A Look at Non-Critical Violations

Upset ChefBy definition a critical violation is something that a health inspector notices during an inspection that could potentially make someone sick. They include things like handling ready-to-eat food with bare hands or unwashed hands, undercooked meat, improper food holding temperatures, sick employees preparing food, and a host of other potentially hazardous problems.

Non-critical violations are those that are not directly related to foodborne illnesses, but they follow closely behind and can become serious problems if not corrected in a timely manner. We like to refer to these as “lurking” or “wannabe” critical violations waiting to happen. Enough of these and your restaurant will not make the grade, your operation will be hit with fines or even worse – cause someone a very serious health issue.

More hazardous than you think

Here are some examples of non-critical items:

ThermometerImproperly calibrated meat thermometers – If an operator is using an improperly calibrated meat thermometer, parts of the food being tested can still be undercooked even when it’s registering a safe temperature. This is a concern because a thermometer, used correctly, is the best indicator of whether food has been cooked enough to kill bad bugs like Salmonella, Campylobacter, E.Coli and Listeria. According to the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s International Food Safety Council, “the thermometer is the most important tool an establishment has to prevent time-temperature abuse, especially during receiving.”

Still think this is a non-critical violation…keep reading.

Tape residueImproperly labeled Food Storage Containers – Guidelines surrounding how food is stored, and where it is stored apply to everyone, even at home. Each item in your walk-in refrigerator, freezer and your dry storage in a sealed labeled container with the contents and date received. The safest way to label food and containers is to use labels made especially for this purpose. Labels that are biodegradable will dissolve in under 30 seconds – leaving no sticky residue.  Not only is it important that the contents which are being stored are accurately and legibly labeled, just as important are the types of labels being used.

Masking tape is not considered safe or consistent. Masking tape leaves behind a sticky residue and it can harbor bacteria.   It’s not that we have anything against masking tape.  We love masking tape!  It’s great for painting, sealing boxes, paper mache projects…not great where residue can come into contact and contaminate food.

Watch this short video Clip on: Top 5 Ways to Improve Food Safety with Proper Labeling

Other non-critical violations include: Outdated operator permits, unclean floors, walls and ceilings. So unlike the name may imply, there’s nothing really Non-Critical about Non-Critical Violations!

Do you have a question regarding Non-Critical Violations? Ask a health inspector – click here!

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