As a restaurant owner, your number one priority should be ensuring the safety of the food you serve. Beyond the human element of food safety, foodborne illness can result in negative publicity, huge fines, possible jail time, lawsuits, and higher Restaurant Insurance costs.
In 2016, there were 5,353 cases of food borne illnesses in the U.S. attributed to sit-down dining establishments, 4,139 to fast food restaurants, and 3,116 to catering or banquet facilities.
September is National Food Safety Education Month making it the perfect time to focus on food safety in your restaurant.
What is a Food borne Illness?
The FDA defines food borne illness as “a common, costly, sometimes life-threatening – yet largely preventable – public health problem.” The two most common food borne pathogens that cause food borne illness are bacteria (Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli) and viruses (norovirus or hepatitis A).
Anyone can get a food borne illness, but pregnant women, young children, and older people have weaker immune systems, which means they are at a higher risk.
Symptoms can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening illness. The most common symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting. Other symptoms can include abdominal cramps, nausea, fever, aches, and fatigue.
Tips to Prevent Food Borne Illness
Pay attention to these three areas - Cleanliness, keeping certain foods separated, and cooking and storage temperatures – to prevent food borne illness:
Eliminate illness-causing germs by keeping everything in your kitchen clean. That includes food, utensils, cutting boards, work surfaces, and your hands.
- Wash fruits and vegetables, poultry, eggs, or bagged produce marked “pre-washed.” Cut out damaged or bruised areas on fruits and vegetables and rinse under running water (without bleach, soap, or commercial produce washes). Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush fruit and vegetables with a paper towel or clean cloth.
- Wash all utensils, cutting boards and surfaces after each use with hot, soapy water, and frequently wash dishcloths in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
- Wash your hands frequently including before, during, and after preparing food, after using the bathroom, and after handling garbage. Use plain soap and water to wash your hands thoroughly, including the backs of your hands, under nails, between fingers, etc. Then rinse and dry with a clean towel.
Keep Certain Foods Separated
Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from other foods while storing and during preparation. Use different plates, utensils, and cutting boards for cooked and raw foods. Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood and another for produce and other foods that won’t be cooked before consumption.
Pay Attention to Storage and Cooking Temperatures
Bacteria that can cause food illness multiply the quickest between 40°F and 140°F, so keep your refrigerator at to 40°F or below and your freezer to 0°F or below. Put perishable food in the fridge within two hours. Foods exposed to temperatures above 90°F should be refrigerated within one hour. Thaw or marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
Using a food thermometer, cook food to the right internal temperature.
Pay attention to these three areas, and make sure that your staff is adequately trained on food safety to avoid food borne illness. Your customers and your bank account will thank you.
Want to Save More on Restaurant Insurance?
Another way to save on restaurant insurance is to work with an independent agent like the experienced agents at the American Insuring Group who can compare your restaurant insurance costs with several companies to ensure that you get the best price on your Restaurant Insurance. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.