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How to Improve Food Safety in 2020

Food safety is always a concern, and it has a certain spotlight on it in the midst of a pandemic. Businesses have changed their models and restaurants have faced regulations that are continuously evolving.

Food safety is always a concern, and it has a certain spotlight on it in the midst of a pandemic. Businesses have changed their models and restaurants have faced regulations that are continuously evolving. However, there is a common goal: keep restaurant employees and customers safe.

Here's how to improve food safety in your restaurant for 2020.

What is Food Safety and Why is it Important?
Understanding what food safety entails is the first step to ultimately improving food safety in your restaurant. The US Department of Agriculture says food safety "refers to the conditions and practices that preserve the quality of food to prevent contamination and food-borne illnesses." These practices refer to managing food recalls, regulating cook temperatures, and dealing with diseases and bacteria that may impact the consumer.

Many government entities, such as, keep updated food safety guidelines. These guidelines make it easy for restaurants to keep their employees and their customers safe and healthy.

Food safety is always important to keep your customers happy and healthy. Food poisoning and the spread of other foodborne illnesses can hurt both your customers' well being and your restaurant. It is especially important to consider food safety and preventing cross contamination when the threat of germs is higher.

Failure to maintain safe food handling practices could result in the closure - temporary or permanent - of your restaurant.

8 Tips on How to Improve Food Safety.
While food safety may seem vague, it is vitally important to the health and wellbeing of your customers. To keep it simple, we're compiled several food safety tips to keep your restaurant safe. Here are 8 tips to improve food safety.

Wash your hands
Sanitize all surfaces regularly
Use food rotation labels
Always cook food to safe internal temperatures
Keep food at required temperatures after cooking
Seal packages with tamper-evident labels
Go contactless
Keep certifications up-to-date
Food Safety Tip #1 – Wash Your Hands

Food safety and hygiene go hand-in-hand. To ensure your food stays safe, have all food handlers and support staff wash their hands frequently with warm water and soap. Keep all soap dispensers full for both employees and customers to use regularly. Have staff keep their hair up or in nets to prevent it from contaminating the food.

Food Safety Tip #2 – Sanitize All Surfaces
Back-of-house work stations should be fully cleaned nightly and sanitized throughout the day to reduce cross-contamination and bacterial growth. Front-of-house surfaces that are frequently touched by customers – like tables – should be wiped down between uses. Use sanitation labels to track how recently they were cleaned.

Food Safety Tip #3 – Use Food Rotation Labels
Using food that is past its use-by date is a large risk to food safety. To avoid this, label all foods in the refrigerator, pantry, and workstation with food rotation labels. This will ensure the entire staff is aware of what foods to use first and what needs to be thrown away.

This tip to improve food safety in your restaurant is not optional, either. According to food rotation guidelines set by the FDA, all commercially prepared food and food removed from its original packaging must be clearly labeled with preparation date and use-by, expiration, or sell-by date. Keep your food labeled to avoid breaking these rules.

Food Safety Tip #4 – Cook Food to Safe Internal Temperatures
Cooking foods to the proper internal temperatures is vital as this process kills harmful bacteria and germs. To check doneness, use a food thermometer. Internal temperature recommendations can be found on the CDC website and on other food safety websites. Remember: internal color of meats and other food items is not a reliable indicator that the food has reached the proper temperature.

Food Safety Tip #5 – Keep Food at the Required Temperatures
It is not enough to simply cook food to the proper internal temperature – it then needs to be kept above or below certain temperatures until it is consumed. Cold foods should be kept below 40 degrees, while warm food should be kept above 140 degrees. If any food reaches the "danger zone" between 40 and 140 degrees for more than 2 hours, it should be discarded to maintainfood safety. This is important to note if your delivery drivers have to travel long distances.

Food Safety Tip #6 – Seal Packages with Tamper-Evident Labels
Once your food has been prepped, it should remain untouched to prevent the transfer of germs and bacteria. To ensure no one touches cooked food, seal the packages with tamper-evident labels. Labels like these will prevent opening without visible evidence, giving your customers peace of mind that their food is untampered with. They are especially important if you use a third-party delivery service with drivers you don't know.

Tamper-evident labels are not just limited to clamshell boxes and paper bags. They also come in a variety of other sizes to cover packaging like drink lids and dome lids.

Food Safety Tip #7 – Go Contactless
Another concept that has stemmed from the pandemic is contactless delivery. This process involves drivers dropping off food on the doorsteps of customers, and customers retrieving it once they are gone. This minimizes peer-to-peer exposure during the delivery process. Offering this option to delivery customers is another way to improve food safety in your restaurant.

Food Safety Tip #8 – Keep Certifications Up-to-Date
Food safety training certifications are mandatory for kitchen staff and restaurant-hired delivery drivers. Make sure you keep your staff up-to-date on their certifications so they know the proper food handling guidelines. Food safety training includes courses like food handler training, allergen awareness, and food protection manager training.