Food Safety in the New Year

We’ve just passed Thanksgiving and Christmas… the New Year is finally here! There are celebrations and parties and bake sales everywhere you look. Restaurants and shops are packed with shoppers who are either catching the post-holiday sale or returning gifts. Food is at the forefront of every celebration, but is food safety? With the abundance of parties, food safety needs to be made even more of a priority. Food safety never takes a break; there are a slew of best practices that restaurants need to keep in mind especially turning the page to a new year.

During the craziness, employees may be tempted to sacrifice food safety in favor of speed. With more orders and maybe not enough staff members to accommodate the rush, it’s understandable that employees are trying to work as quickly as they are able.

However, employees should be reminded of food safety before each shift. Managers should schedule regular team meetings where food safety is at the forefront of the agenda. Food safety protocol posters can be placed in high traffic areas in the kitchen to act as a reminder for staff members. Be sure that employees understand why food safety is so important, and why certain safety procedures are in place. Specific examples are helpful. For instance, discuss why regularly sanitizing surfaces is a good habit to establish, but if employees are using sanitizer with the wrong concentration levels, bacteria will not be killed.

First and foremost, employees need to practice good hand hygiene. That can be one of the easiest things to forget or slack on when employees are busy. Reinforce the proper hand washing technique and discuss when employees should be wearing gloves while they handle foods. Make sure everyone understands when they need to change gloves from task to task and when they should be washing their hands in-between tasks. Similarly, surfaces should be sanitized regularly to prevent cross-contamination and to kill illness-causing bacteria.

Counter space may be tight with excess food in the kitchen, but foods should still be kept separate to prevent cross-contamination. Properly labeling foods is crucial in this practice. Not only will food labeling help you keep foods separate, but it will help decrease food waste. Foods clearly labeled with their prep date, ingredient list, and use-by date with keep everyone in the kitchen organized and on the same page. The Date Code Genie® is a great way to make labeling easy and efficient.

Follow these tips to make sure food safety doesn’t take a break during the New Year.