Each month we examine food safety violations from real kitchens and explain how to fix them—or avoid them altogether! Every foodservice operator knows food safety is the most important standard in kitchen. Read on to see what common mistakes your operation could be making and what your health inspector wants to see when dropping by unannounced:
Violation: “Takeout bags and trash bags were being used for food.”
“But I ran out of Cambros!” is not an excuse your health inspector is going to accept. It is never a good idea to hold food in bags that are not meant for food storage. The best advice we can give is to immediately put your food inside food safe containers when it enters your restaurant and after it’s been prepped or cooked. Don’t allow yourself to put it inside something “just for now,” because that is when one inevitably gets distracted by something else and forgets. Ensure your operation is stocked with enough storage containers to handle the volume of food you take in and prepare.
Violation: “Raw chicken was stored over avocados in the walk-in cooler and raw pork was stored over cooked rice in the reach-in cooler.”
While the type of container you store your food inside is very important, where you store it afterward needs to have just as much thought behind it. Something as simple as accidentally putting a container back in the wrong place could cost your restaurant a violation. For those with a large walk-in, it is best to completely separate produce and cooked food from raw meat. No matter what size walk-in you’re working with, you should always store raw meats from lowest to highest cooking temperature with the highest on the bottom shelf. There are a few easy ways to remind staff where to correctly store each type of food. First, print out a diagram like this one by State Food Safety and post it inside and outside your walk-in. Additionally, Camshelving® ID Tags easily clip onto traverses to label what goes on each shelf. When you’re working in a busy kitchen, sometimes the smallest reminders can be the most helpful!
Violation: “An employee was not following proper hand-washing procedure”
Wash 👏Those 👏 Hands 👏! Set your employees up for success by equipping all handwashing sinks with warm water, soap, paper towels or a dryer and a sign reminding them to wash their hands. State Food Safety suggests washing your hands anytime you think that they might be contaminated, and in all of these scenarios:
- Before putting on gloves
- After handling raw meat
- After coughing or sneezing
- After touching skin or hair
- After eating, drinking, or using tobacco
- After touching dirty equipment and utensils
- After using the bathroom, both in the bathroom and again when returning to work
Employees must also follow the same regulations when serving off-site or away from the kitchen. Make sure employees are able to wash hands by providing handwash stations or a portable hand sink cart. Handwash stations are ideal for outdoor events and festivals. Cambro’s CamKiosk Hand Sink Cart allows you to set up a fully functioning sink wherever electricity is accessible. Avoid this violation by training your employees to make handwashing part of their everyday routine.
Violation: “A bottle of garlic powder was not properly labeled.”
This violation is so painful because it’s so easy! Keep a roll of food labels near storage areas so that they are ready for any new ingredient or container that is brought inside. This small step doesn’t take very long, but it’s ignored constantly in kitchens. Don’t let your busy back of house throw off simple health standards. Health inspectors don’t care if it’s a little thing or not—if they see it, you’ll get knocked for it. Assign a member of your back of house to check containers for labels each morning when they’re prepping for the day. That person will catch any accidental mistakes and set your day up with everything up to standard.
Need a refresh on your food safety protocols? Check out Cambro’s StoreSafe Store Fresh information on how to keep HACCP best practices consistent in your operation.
Click here to read the first edition of Real World Food Safety Violations.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ADRIANA DESIDERIO IS THE DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER AT CAMBRO.
Categories: Food Safety