The Top Nine Overlooked Food Safety Issues Facing Restaurants Today

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Despite foodservice facility best efforts to mitigate risk and create successful business outcomes, contamination or unsafe situations may still occur, for example 1 in 6 Americans get a foodborne illness each year.

Ecolab’s latest food safety webinar presented by Dr. Ruth Petran, PhD, CFS VP RD&E Food Safety & Public Health, Ecolab and Cindy Rice, RS, CPFS, MSPH President, Eastern Food Safety is now available.

During the webinar our experts review some of the most overlooked food safety issues facing foodservice facilities today. A holistic food safety approach will help ensure smooth operations, a positive guest experience and cost control while ensuring every point of concern for contamination is addressed.

Top 9 overlooked food safety areas:

  1. Warm/Cold storage areas
    Ambient temperatures of cold storage areas exceeding 5°C (proper ‘cold’ holding temperature) increases the risk that pathogenic and spoilage organisms will begin to grow on your food. This could lead to food being dangerous for consumption. 
  2. Cooling pans too deep
    Cooling pans that are too deep to properly chill food items may allow for rapid pathogen (e.g., C. perfringens, B. cereus) growth – and if consumed, can cause illness.
  3. Non-calibrated thermometers
    Non-calibrated thermometers disrupt accurate readings and time-temperature abuse of foods can cause illness if pathogenic bacteria are able to grow.  This can occur if a potentially hazardous food is held between 5°C and 57°C for more than 4 hours. 
  4. Improper produce handling
    Although the vast majority of produce is very safe due to proper growing practices and careful handling by processors (including commercial washing with approved antimicrobial chemicals), improper handling can cause it to become unsafe. Experts recommend against re-washing produce that has been commercially washed. If it’s not pre-washed, it needs to be washed and handled carefully to avoid contamination.   
  5. Poor ice machine sanitation
    Poor sanitation of ice machine could lead to unsanitary conditions that might lead to illnesses. Inspectors often cite dirty ice machines and it is a common reason for unclean food contact surfaces.  Cleanliness of ice machines can be a frequent target for media sampling that highlight issues which can lead to consumer outrage!
  6. Cocktail garnish storage and handling
    Garnishes can pose risks if not handled properly. Be aware of the characteristics of bar garnishes and whether they’re a potentially hazardous food (defined as a food with a water activity value of .85 or less, food with a pH level of 4.6 or below when measured at 24°C). These foods must not be held out of temperature control for more than 4 hours. Instead hot hold at 57°C or above or cold hold at 4°C or below.
  7. Unclean self-service areas (e.g., salad bars, condiment stations, etc.)
    Contamination of surfaces contributes to a significant amount of all foodborne illnesses. 
  8. Lack of allergen isolation
    Improper handling of allergenic foods can lead to health issues
  9. Failure to keep drink dispensers clean
    Dirty dispensers can allow contaminants to flow into beverages. There are concerns with failing to clean soda, tea urn and bar dispensers - not keeping these items clean not only affects the taste of beverages, it endangers your guests by potentially harboring E. coli, yeast and mold, and can lead to negative publicity.

Click below to watch the webinar in full and learn more about the causes and solutions for each overlooked food safety areas.

For further information or resources to help you minimise your food safety risks please visit our food safety matters page

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