As a customer dining in a restaurant, all that you think of as you enter the food premises is which dish to order in the hopes of having a great dining experience. Getting sick from unsafe food is often the least of your worries which shouldn't be the case.
No single customer would ever want to spend the night at the hospital after getting a foodborne illness. Every restaurant’s responsibility is that all dishes served in their facility are safe and comply with the standards set by health departments.
Even without knowing established food safety regulations, you set particular standards that you expect every restaurant you dine in to follow. You would not dine in a restaurant with a lousy record of food hygiene issues nor in a food establishment where you clearly see an unclean working environment.
It goes without saying that any type of restaurant must have a systemic approach to food safety, and it should reflect in their everyday operations and products.
Are food safety practices essential?
Customers are not always aware of what is happening inside a restaurant's kitchen. The thick wall and heavy doors separate the service area from where the magic and science of cooking happens.
Behind these walls, every customer expects food handlers to prepare the foods hygienically.
Food safety practices refer to any operation applied in food preparation to keep foods safe from contamination. These practices keep customers, away from being sent to the hospital because of a foodborne illness.
Every year, at least 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses occur worldwide. Of these cases, at least 420,000 deaths occur.
Straightforward food safety practices such as proper handwashing can significantly reduce these foodborne illness cases. It does not matter how small the task is. The idea of every food safety practice is to keep the contaminants away from food.
Food contamination can occur due to simply forgetting to use a different knife or placing foods on an unsanitized food surface. Although these may be happening in our kitchens, it’s a different story for restaurants.
The level of required food safety practices in a restaurant reflects the risk that the lack of standards can cause. At worst, a negligent restaurant can cause a foodborne illness outbreak which may be hard to control.
Which ones matter the most?
There are a lot of food safety practices that we expect every restaurant to be implemented in their operations. All contribute to food safety, from proper handwashing and wearing designated uniforms to thoroughly cooking every meal.
A few operations must come at the top of our requirements for this wide array of food safety practices. The 4 C’s of food safety is a common term that describes these operations in the food industry. Here is a list of some of the most critical food safety practices for every restaurant:
This operation encompasses cleaning the service area and keeping the kitchen environment clean. When you walk into a restaurant, the first thing that catches your eye wouldn't be the tasty-looking food at another customer’s table but rather the cleanliness and ambience.
Regular and monitored cleaning and sanitization routines help keep out food contaminants in a food service establishment. These operations target some key areas where contamination is most likely to occur, and these include:
- Food contact surfaces
- Facilities (e.g., floors, windows, tables, comfort rooms, sinks, and countertops).
- Kitchen equipment and tools
Cleaning includes ensuring that you will find no foreign materials in every food you receive. A strand of hair or leftover food debris on the table or floor is the last thing you want to see when dining in a restaurant.
The key to a clean working and service environment for every restaurant is to employ a strict and comprehensive cleaning schedule.
A majority of reported foodborne illness cases every year come from restaurant incidents that may involve an undercooked meal.
Cooking foods is a critical process that ensures the safety of foods by eliminating any existing food safety hazards.
You know by heart that serving a chicken dish with a pinkish center to your family over dinner is a big red flag. It’s the same case for restaurants.
Every customer expects restaurant teams to cook foods to the recommended internal cooking temperatures for safety. Unless the dishes are custom ordered to be undercooked such as for steaks. In such cases, restaurants must present a consumer advisory.
You would expect a commercial restaurant, even a food truck, to have a refrigerating system for their raw materials.
At your home, you know that when you buy fresh deli or raw meats, you would need to store them in the freezer or refrigerator if you will use them for later.
Restaurants must also do this religiously. Foods must be refrigerated to at least 41°F (5°C) or below to slow down the growth of foodborne pathogens.
For restaurants that use a buffet-style service, cold holding is an essential feature for products such as salads. This type of food is very perishable and can spoil very fast when stored within the danger zone for foods.
Cross-contamination refers to one of the fastest routes for food bacteria and other pathogenic microorganisms to spread all over a food preparation area.
This event can come from contaminated foods, unclean hands of food handlers, and unclean equipment.
The idea of foodservice employees operating with dirty hands and poor personal hygiene lowers the chances of you coming back to this restaurant.
Food handlers must always follow operations such as the following to avoid cross-contamination:
- Use separate tools such as chopping boards and knives for preparing raw and ready-to-eat foods.
- Practice proper handwashing.
- Sick employees must not attend food service.
- Uniforms must always be clean and properly worn.
Food handlers must be knowledgeable about the familiar sources of cross-contamination and the consequences that they may have.
As customers, we are not entirely sure what goes behind every restaurant's kitchen. Dining in a restaurant means trusting their food safety practices and food preparation skills.
Whether it’s the best brunch cafe, steakhouse or ramen restaurant in London or wherever else, we expect food restaurant teams to be well-versed and trained in food safety practices to fulfil appropriate laws and regulations.
Every famous restaurant does not only achieve popularity among customers for the quality of their food but also from the security that they offer customers from the food safety practices that they employ.