Angela Bell

Restaurant Cleanliness: Serving Safe Food

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An outbreak of any food-borne illness that can be traced back to your establishment can not only put a damper on customer retention, but can put an end to your business as well. A report of listeria, noro-virus, salmonella or e-coli by the state health department is as toxic to the welfare of your business as it is to your customers. At the very least, you will have to make costly changes to procedures, infrastructure or equipment and retrain your staff. And at the very worst, you will be forced to close.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so to prevent your customers from acquiring a food-borne illness at your establishment, consider the following:

Get educated
There are food safety training programs available online and in classrooms at technical schools across the country. As a certified instructor and proctor of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) Servsafe® program for the last seven years, I recommend it as one of the most effective, based on the FDA food code. Make it a point to get certified and to have at least one person per shift certified as well. In addition, there is now a less comprehensive food handler version which would benefit those employees (both front and back of the house) who come in contact with food contact surfaces such as dinnerware.

Maintain equipment
Keeping food out of the temperature danger zone is fundamental to food safety. A cooler with a dirty fan, or a thermometer or thermostat that needs calibration can result in out of control growth of unwanted pathogens. Have a regular maintenance program to include outside professionals where needed.

Have a cleaning program
The oil that congeals under the deep fryer and the grease that drips from the exhaust fan are fine dining for all types of unwanted critters. Develop a schedule that includes regular cleaning and sanitizing of all surfaces, not just the stainless steel prep tables and sinks.

Hire an exterminator
Pay a professional to perform routine quarterly treatments to prevent infestations. Even though you
run a spic and span operation, there is nothing to keep out the riff raff that gets a free ride past your doorway on the corrugated containers delivered by your vendor’s delivery truck. Who knows where that has been?

Not enough can be said about hand-washing. I firmly believe that healthcare reform should begin in the kitchen, but it should end with hand-washing! Check with your local department of health for their recommendations and mandate that each and every employee (starting with you) follow them.

Buon Appetito e Buona Salute, Chef Angela Bell

Beyond the Bull (an "eat smart" kitchen)

233 W. Main St., Central, SC 29630

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