In our first blog on SEFA’s “Dock to Dining” guide presented by San Jamar, we discussed the importance of sanitation in your restaurant’s dock, dry and refrigerated storage spaces as well as hand washing and hygiene procedures. In this, the second and final blog of the series, we will go over sanitary practices in food preparation, production/cook’s line, bar/serving station, dining areas, and dish areas.
Most cross-contamination of food products occurs in the preparation area. Separating the preparation and storage of different food types will help to ensure proper sanitation and reduce bacteria transfer. Use NSF certified color-coded cutting boards for individual food groups like poultry, red meats, fruits, vegetables, or cooked items. Cutting boards with anti-slip corners will help to prevent boards from slipping and eliminates unsanitary “dish towel” method often used to keep boards in place. Color-coded knives and gloves also work in preventing cross-contamination between different food types. Check the internal temperature of foods before, during and after prep to ensure safety. If your kitchen workers need to chill food in quick, thorough manner, have them use a cold paddle. Make sure proper thawing methods are used for frozen foods.
As with most areas in your kitchen, have a proper hand sink within reach for employees, and make sure it is being used correctly. Also have gloves and tools readily available. Use an integrated wrapping station to keep tools clean and handy for storing and labeling food products. Sanitize the preparation area with separate cleaning pails, and check and clean your equipment regularly to make sure it is working effectively.
The production/cooking line is another important area to control cross-contamination and time-temperature abuse. Use NSF certified color-coded cutting boards for individual food groups. Keep raw and cooked foods separated by using different boards. To prevent slipping and injury, use boards equipped with anti-slip grips. Regularly check food when cooking with a thermometer to ensure proper temperature. Check the condition of holding pans, storage containers, serving utensils, knives, pots, pans and other equipment often to make sure they are safe and clean. Perform overall equipment checks and regularly maintain exhaust hoods, reach-in refrigeration, hot and cold preparation units and other cooking equipment. Keep anti-slip, non-absorbent mats on the floors of your production line to reduce fatigue and possible injury. Use separate and dedicated cleaning pails to clean your station.
The bar is often where customers have visual access to your restaurant’s commitment to cleanliness and safety. Keep ice from becoming contaminated by utilizing scoops and holders that restrict hand contact with ice and keep the scoops out of the ice bin. Have a tote ready and available for transport and storage of ice. Use chillable garnish centers with closeable lids to keep your condiments fresh and free of cross-contamination. Store all flatware with their handles up and glassware with the rim side down on shelf lining or matting. Never double stack your glassware and make sure your restaurant is in proper supply of glassware. Having enough glass on hand helps to ensure proper cleaning and cooling time of the items, which prevents breakage and physical contamination. Use separated and dedicated cleaning pails to clean stations, tables and counters in your bar area.
In a recent study, the National Restaurant Association discovered that cleanliness is the number 1 customer concern about restaurants. A clean dining area will keep your customers returning and will help your bottom line. When your employees set tables, make sure they hold utensils by their handles. Only use condiments in single use packets to help restrict contamination. Hot pads should be used to protect both customers and employees from burns when using skillets and hot plates. Food should never be reused, and should be thrown out after each party. Use separate and dedicated cleaning pails to clean stations in the dining area. All tables should be wiped down with sanitizing solution between turns. Use separate towels for tabletops and chairs. It is best to always follow the manufacturers’ cleaning instructions for wood furniture, as harsh chemicals may damage the finish.
If your restaurant features buffet style serving, take note of the following practices. Make sure your foods maintain the proper hot and cold temperatures by using infrared and probe thermometers. Ensure adequate dishware for a new plate on each trip. Sneeze guards and food shields are required and should be used over display counters and salad bars. Keep all the serving utensils handles facing out.
Sanitation is vital in the dish area for both employees who clean dishware and for the customers who eat off them. Make sure there are adequate dish tables to handle both soiled and clean equipment, tableware, and utensils. Consider purchasing magnetic silverware retrievers for your waste receptacles. It helps make scraping plates faster, cleaner and can save your restaurant money on replacement flatware. Have a three-compartment sink and separate drain boards for clean and soiled items in your dish area. Check the rinse temperature to make sure it is at least 180°F in your high temperature dishwashing machine. Use a proper open or closed dish rack system. Have heavy-duty shelf matting on your drainboards, shelves and sinks to reduce glass and dishware breakage. Implement anti-slip, non-absorbent floor mats for employees in your dish area.