All-encompassing care is needed to provide customers in your restaurant with a fresh, well-prepared meal. From receiving the food items to cleaning dishes, sanitary procedures must be followed to keep your customers safe and to increase efficiency. SEFA’s “Dock to Dining” guide presented by San Jamar covers the basics in procedures used to prevent foodborne illnesses and increase profitability. Part one of our series will cover the manual’s guidance on receiving dock, dry and refrigeration storage, and hand washing and hygiene procedures.
Even when receiving items from your restaurant’s most trusted distributors and deliverers, every food item should be thoroughly checked before putting it away for storage. Keeping your food products free of time-temperature abuse eliminates nearly 50% of all foodborne illnesses, so inspect and record the temperature of your food products upon arrival. Make sure thermometers are readily available for use throughout your inspection. You can refuse or return any food products that do not meet the standards of your temperature check.
Review and record the expiration dates of your items and the shape of the package in which it was delivered. Again, refuse or return products that don’t meet your restaurant’s standards. Place your incoming shipments on dunnage racks to keep them from making contact with the floor. Consider purchasing air curtains to place near your shipping area if you don’t already have them. They assist in keeping your area free of bugs and dust, and will prevent cold or hot air from transferring through doorways, consequently saving energy. Use durable and dependable equipment such as brooms, mops, and buckets to keep your receiving area clean. Keeping the area well-lit will also discourage pests from entering your establishment.
While dry storage may not seem like one of the biggest areas to produce foodborne illnesses, it can be if not maintained properly. Start off by making sure temperature and humidity is properly controlled. Proper temperature is vital in preventing your dry food from losing nutrients or spoiling. Also ensure that chemicals and non-food items are stored away from or below consumables to prevent contamination. Have your employees use ladders, back supports and first aid kits to help ensure their safety while stocking in the dry storage area. Store your dry food items more than 6 inches away from the wall and more than 6 inches up from the floor. Use slotted shelves and dunnage racks to help keep proper air circulation.
Keep the bins for your dry food covered, dated and labeled. Use an integrated wrapping station to keep your wrapping tools within an arm’s reach to help save storage space. Also, employ the First In, First Out (FIFO) method of stock rotation to keep your storage area clean and organized. When opening boxes, make sure your employees use a safety cutter to help keep their hands out of harms way. Much like your receiving dock area, your restaurant should use efficient and dependable brooms, mops and other cleaning equipment to keep the dry storage area sanitary. Also make sure the area is well-lit to help keep pests away from your dry food.
Refrigerated storage areas are where many foodborne illnesses materialize. Ensure your restaurant is properly maintaining the area. After inspecting your refrigerated items and determining that they meet the criteria for temperature and condition, take them to their proper areas immediately. Use hand trucks, platform trucks or dollies to transport especially bulky items. Your employees should use back supports and non-slip gloves to ensure safety while stocking them. Every item should be covered, labeled and dated. Keep an integrated wrapping station in your refrigerated storage area to keep your tools handy and to save precious space. Implement the FIFO method for proper stock rotation here as well.
Make sure the thermometers in your refrigerated area are properly placed and checked regularly. Keep the refrigerated areas at 41°F and freezers between 0° and -10°. Bacteria rapidly grow between 40° and 140°, with some nearly doubling in less than 20 minutes time. Use strong and effective brooms, mops, squeegees, buckets and other materials to keep your refrigerated storage units sanitary. Routinely check the refrigeration units to make sure they are working properly.
Hand Washing & Hygiene
Did you know that nearly 40% of foodborne illnesses are a result of poor hygiene from restaurant employees? Your employees’ ability to fight off these illnesses and cross-contamination starts at the hand sink in your kitchen. Install touch free faucets to keep your employees from having to touch faucets to wash their hands. Implement well formulated hand soaps in both liquid and foam forms and make sure to match them with the proper dispenser. Have your employees use disposable nail brushes to thoroughly clean their hands and nails. These brushes can be purchased in systems, which keep the brush clean and within reach. Purchase the proper towel dispenser for your kitchen. Like the hands-free faucet, touch-free towel dispensers help prevent cross-contamination. Make sure your employees wear gloves when working in the kitchen. Keep them clean, dry and readily available with a disposable glove dispenser, which can be mounted on the wall. Keep trash bins and other waste receptacles throughout your establishment.