Food safety and sanitation are two of the most critical components when managing a restaurant business. All restaurant owners are responsible for protecting public health by observing food safety standards at all times. These food safety practices include monitoring food temperatures, refrigeration equipment, and cooking tools.
But as the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the economic and social climate, the responsibility became even greater for the restaurant industry. Although the U.S. Food & Drug Administration cited that there is no evidence yet about COVID-19 transmission through packaging and food, restaurateurs must strengthen their food safety practices to ensure their food and restaurant is safe for employees and guests.
To prevent foodborne outbreaks and illnesses, restaurant owners must avoid careless and innocent mistakes as much as possible. By following food safety standards, they are doing their part in maintaining a healthy food safety culture. To ensure the highest quality of food safety practices during this pandemic, here are ways to maintain a safe and clean workplace.
Reducing food handling
As much as possible, limit the number of employees involved in meal preparation, especially those who handle the ingredients, food, and packaging in the restaurant. There are plenty of ways to do this by rethinking the food preparation process and reducing the number of employees involved in meal preparations.
Food service companies like Lakeside Manufacturing today offer COVID-19 support products to reduce contact during deliveries. These include tray delivery carts, plate dispensers, and pickup carts. This is perfect for restaurants offering contactless deliveries to ensure the safety of their staff and customers.
Providing proper training to employees about food safety procedures and guidelines will equip them with the knowledge and skills when handling food. This is also a great time to reevaluate your staff’s food handling permit that reveals food temperature, allergens, food safety, sanitation, and personal hygiene.
The manner of handling delivery packages is also important to food safety. In normal circumstances, food packages have to go through several hands before an order gets fulfilled. This can be dangerous if one of your staff carries the virus. If this is the case, you have to rethink your delivery process to handle food packages properly.
Start by following proper social distancing measures by limiting the number of people handling the packages. You can set them down at a clean table and let another person pick the item safely. Another technique is to prevent from offering napkins and takeout cutlery to customers. These items are potential carriers for cross-contamination.
Stepping up the cleaning game
In this time of health crisis, you have to be more specific when it comes to cleaning and disinfection. While the survival rate of COVID-19 may differ on surfaces, it is important to stay updated on food safety practices.
If you want to know the best cleaning and disinfecting products to protect your restaurant from COVID-19, you may visit the website of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. They offer resources about the right disinfectant tools and proper ways to use them effectively and safely.
When cleaning the kitchen make sure to clean and wipe food utensils, tableware, cookware, and high-contact surfaces, such as door handles, countertops, light switches, faucets, sinks, and phones.
Frequent handwashing is also mandatory for food businesses. To promote regular handwashing in the workplace, ensure sufficient stock for soap, towels, and running water for every washing station. Encourage employees to make handwashing a priority by citing different situations when they need to wash their hands. This includes touching shared surfaces, taking orders, arriving at the workplace, handling money, taking bathroom breaks, and more.
Preventing infected staff to go to work
Food safety begins during meal preparations. If you want your employees to take food safety measures seriously, lead them by example. If one of your staff is showing signs of COVID-19 infection, send them home immediately.
Offer sick leave or paid time off to employees if they have flu-like symptoms and cannot come to work. It is also your job to educate them about safety guidelines about the COVID-19 virus. Inform them about the symptoms and what they should do if one of them has mild to severe symptoms. Also, prevent them from coming to work unless they have a doctor’s note.
While some practices mentioned above are meant for the COVID-19 situation, you can use these steps to strengthen the food safety measures in your restaurant. Once your staff learns to follow these practices, make sure to apply them to your daily routine to guarantee safety and quality in your services and products.