In the food industry, brand reputation is fragile. One unpleasant experience can start a negative word-of-mouth effect. A surefire way to generate such ill will is allowing a foreign object to arrive on a customer’s plate. Whether it’s something as innocuous as a stray hair or as dangerous as a shard of glass, foreign matter should never be a part of the customer experience. Proper sanitation and organization in the stock room and kitchen are your best defenses against this problem.
Sources of Foreign Objects
There are three main sources of foreign matter in food:
- Staff-related materials like hair, fingernails and jewelry
- Packing materials such as cardboard casing and plastic wrap from commercial products
- Accidental matter such as broken glass, wood splinters and loose screws
Regardless of where foreign material originates, proper containment, cleaning and inspection of food before serving or packaging is essential.
Don’t Skimp on Containers
The containers used to store food products are your first line of defense against foreign matter, but if you don’t opt for sturdy, properly designed storage, it can be a source of contamination. Cheap containers are more likely to chip, crack or improperly seal, allowing foreign objects to fall in. Some poorly designed containers may even shed some of their own materials into the food, as well. Strong containers, like those available from Cambro, are durable enough for commercial and industrial kitchens, and they have quality seals to keep foreign matter out.
It is vital for any business handling food to have a thorough inspection checklist. Depending on the format your back-of-house follows, you’ll have different inspection needs, but some issues are universal. To prevent or check for foreign objects, make sure your staff have proper hair restraints and gloves and that they keep jewelry to a minimum. All work surfaces should remain as clean and clear as possible, including all equipment, such as meat slicers and stove tops. Lastly, all produce should be thoroughly rinsed before further processing.
Real life is rarely pristine, so you need to keep your real-world business in excellent shape. You can keep foreign objects out of your food products with strong cleanliness policies and smart investments in proper storage.