Food Safety


        Food Contact Areas


        Inadequate Food Service Sanitization means Risky Business

        Over 76 million cases of foodborne illnesses are reported each year. They kill over 5,000 people and hospitalize over 323,000 annually. Today, restaurant guests are extremely concerned with food safety and cleanliness. More than ever, customers check out the conditions in foodservice establishments. Generally, customers don’t complain to managers. But they do take action — by leaving and telling others not to visit. Worse, some may file lawsuits. All of which means poor sanitization can quickly jeopardize or even destroy a foodservice business. It’s just not worth the risk.

        Sanitizing Table Tops and Multiple-Use Surfaces

        The importance of a clean food service area cannot be overemphasized. To protect public health, cleaning duties in these areas should be done several times a day.

        - Spray surface with a diluted germicidal soap solution. Wipe surface using a clean damp cloth or sponge.
        - Rinse cloth and wipe surface to remove any soap residue.
        - To sanitize cleaned surface, spray a fine mist of sanitizing solution at the following concentrations:

        • Chlorine-based sanitizer — 200 ppm
        • Quaternary ammonium sanitizer — 200 to 400 ppm

        - Prepare sanitizer solution as recommended on the label.
        - Check concentration with a test strip.
        - Wipe surface with a clean cloth that has been damped with sanitizer solution.

        Kitchen Ware

        For Washing
        1. Turn both hot and cold water on in 1st sink.
        2. Adjust to desired temperature (110°F/43.3°C).
        3. Add dishwashing liquid as per label instructions.
        4. Wash items to be cleaned. For dried-on, burnt-on residue, allow to soak.

        For Rinsing
        1. Turn both hot and cold water on in 2nd sink. Adjust to desired temperature (120°F/48.9°C).
        2. Fill sink with water.
        3. Immerse washed items in sink to rinse off suds.
        4. When water in sink becomes cloudy, drain and refill with fresh water.

        For Sanitizing
        1. Turn on cold water in 3rd sink. Adjust to desired temperature (75°-120°F/23.9°-48.9°C).
        2. Add sanitizer as per label instructions.
        3. Use test strip to check solution concentration as follows:

        • For chlorine-based sanitizers — 200 ppm
        • For quaternary ammonium sanitizers — 200 to 400 ppm

        4. Completely immerse items for at least 60 seconds.
        5. Allow items to air dry. DO NOT RINSE.

        Stationary Equipment

        Stationary equipment such as slicers, mixers and yogurt machines should be cleaned daily or as often as necessary. Follow manufacturer’s procedure for disassembling removable parts. Clean and sanitize removable parts, using the 3-step cleaning procedure in the 3-compartment sink. Clean non-removable parts with hot soapy water and scrape off debris, preferably with a cleaning brush. Spray a properly prepared sanitizer solution and allow to dry before using equipment. Take proper precaution to prevent injury by unplugging electrical equipment and wearing proper safety gear. Cleaning tools such as wiping cloth, brushes, scrub pads should be cleaned and sanitized between use to prevent cross-contaminating food contact surfaces.

        Food Contact Surfaces

        Clean food contact surfaces often. Improperly cleaned and sanitized food contact surfaces can lead to cross-contamination. Do not use cutting boards or knives for ready-to-eat foods if they were previously used for raw meat or poultry without proper cleaning and sanitizing. Use a scrub brush to remove soil build-up. Rinse well to remove all cleaning chemicals from surface.

        Proper Handwashing

        The Center for Disease Control has stated that handwashing is the single most important way to prevent cross-contamination. Cross-contamination is the transfer of illness-causing bacteria and viruses to cooked foods. Wash hands at designated sinks with antibacterial handsoap & warm water.

        • Before starting work
        • After using restroom
        • After handling raw foods
        • After smoking, sneezing or coughing into hands
        • After touching hair, nose or ears
        • Before putting on or changing disposable gloves

        • Lather hands, arms up to elbow, between fingers and under nails. Rub for at least 20 seconds.
        • Rinse well.
        • Dry with single use towel or hot air dryer.
        • For added protection, sanitize hands with hand sanitizer.
        • Report symptoms of a cold, sore throat, fever, or diarrhea to a supervisor.
        • Properly bandage all cuts and abrasions

        Barrier Protection

        The 1999 FDA Food Code requires the use of a secondary barrier when handling ready-to-eat foods. Gloves, utensils, deli tissues, tongs and other utensils may be used. Hands must be washed before and after donning or removing gloves. Gloves must be changed when soiled or torn, and are always task specific, not time specific. Gloves must be changed when handling raw meat, poultry, fish, etc. and before moving to ready-to-eat foods. Hand washing and glove use go hand-in-hand!


        • Use tongs or disposable gloves to handle food.
        • Change gloves:
          • After handling raw food
          • When soiled or torn
          • Before handling ready-to-eat foods
        • Use non-latex gloves if you are allergic to latex.

        Safety and Sanitation


        The sanitation of your food establishment is of utmost importance in preventing food cross-contamination. An effective method to control food safety hazards is to develop and follow a cleaning schedule for your establishment. Survey your cleaning needs by doing a walk-through of your establishment and note all equipment and food areas. Prepare a schedule on how and when each piece of equipment and area is to be cleaned. Include who is the responsible associate, and train on how to do each cleaning task.

        Food processing equipment should be constructed of durable and corrosion resistant material. Food contact surfaces should be smooth to prevent accumulation of soil and bacteria. Stainless steel is recommended for shelving. Floors and walls should be easy to maintain as well and should be free from cracks and holes where pests can penetrate and enter your establishment. Restroom care is a very important function in housekeeping due to the potential of health hazards through cross-contamination. Restroom facilities should be kept in good repair, clean and sanitary. Remember, your health inspector and your customers will judge a facility based on the cleanliness and maintenance of your establishment.


        Kitchen Equipment Maintenance

        Baked-on grease and soil build-up can lead to food cross-contamination. Your cleaning schedule should include regular cleaning of large kitchen equipment such as ovens, grills and hood. Observe proper precaution when using these type of cleaners. These products are caustic and can burn skin and eyes. Wear protective gear such as rubber gloves and safety glasses. Wash hands and arms immediately after use. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL INSTRUCTIONS ON PRODUCT USAGE. For daily clean-up, use an all-purpose cleaner/degreaser. The use of color coded brushes helps identify different foods and processing areas, and thus helps prevent cross-contamination. All food contact surfaces, including utensils and equipment, should be cleaned as frequently as necessary to protect against contamination of food.

        Restroom Maintenance

        • Prepare sanitizer solution as directed on product label.
        • Fill a clean spray bottle with solution. Spray sinks, faucets and surfaces to be cleaned. Some products may not be compatible with glass or mirrors.
        • Allow to remain on surface for at least 2 minutes.
        • Wipe hard surfaces with a clean, damp cloth or sponge. Scrub toilet bowl and urinal with bowl brush.
        • For floor disinfecting, apply solution liberally and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Mop up excess solution and allow to dry.
        • Do not use restroom mop for kitchen and dining room cleaning. Use color coded mops and brushes for easy identification.


        Floor and Wall Cleaning

        • Prepare Cleaner/Degreaser solution as directed on product label.
        • Sweep floor and remove all loose debris.
        • Dip mop in solution. Do not wring.
        • Liberally apply solution to floor with wet mop and let sit for about 5 minutes.
        • To deep clean, scrub floor with a deck brush.
        • Mop up solution or rinse with clean water.
        • Allow to air dry.
        • Observe proper safety procedures by wearing appropriate skin protection such as gloves and placing wet floor signs in area being cleaned.
        • Clean walls by spraying solution onto surface. Scrub to remove tough soils. Wipe with damp cloth or sponge.
        • Clean dining room floors using a properly diluted Cleaner/Degreaser Solution.
        • Spray sanitizer solution onto dining tables. Wipe dry with paper towel or clean cloth.
        • Remember to wash hands after handling chemicals to prevent cross-contamination.

        When using a sanitizer solution, make sure you check the concentration. Replace with fresh solution as necessary.

        Safe Food Storage - Best Practices

        Safe Temperatures

        - Maintain freezer at 10° F (-23°C) or below.
        - Maintain cooler at 41°F (5°C) or below.
        - Cool hot foods down to 70°F (21°C) within 2 hours and under 41°F (5°C) within 4 hours. Stir    frequently while cooling.
        - Hold hot food above 140°F (60°C) and cold food below 41°F (5°C).
        - Never thaw foods at room temperature. Best to thaw in cooler.

        Safe Storage

        - Keep all raw, cooked and ready to eat products separated in cooler.
        - Store all food products no less than 6" (15 cm) off the floor.
        - Use lids instead of messy plastic wrap to protect contents and maximize quality.
        - Use clear containers to minimize unnecessary handling of product.
        - Store ready to eat foods above raw foods and make sure all products are properly covered with lids.
        - Use 2-1/2" deep pans where possible to ensure quicker and safer cool down and re-heating with smaller batch sizes.

        Food Storage Rotation

        Safe Rotation

        - Cover, label and date all stored foods with contents and "Use-by date".
        - Best to use FIFO (First In, First Out) food rotation system.
        - When in doubt, throw it out!
        - Do not use masking tape for labeling. Sticky residue harbors harmful bacteria.
        - Sticky residue is tough to scrape off and can cross contaminate all food contact surfaces during handling and storage.


        Cross Contamination

        - Raw foods stored above cooked foods.
        - Uncovered storage containers.
        - Sticky label residue from masking tape or labels.
        - Thawing raw food above cooked food.

        Improper Food Rotation

        - Containers of bulk and prepared foods are not completely covered or properly labeled with contents and use-by date.
        - Using containers that are not clear so contents are not visible.

        Temperature Abuse

        - Unsafe cooler and freezer temperatures.
        - No daily temperature checks or documentation.
        - Improper cooling of hot food.
        - Thawing frozen foods at room temperature.

        Temperature Controls – Measurement Instruments

        The only way to be truly sure that the temperature of your cooked foods has reached a safe level for eating is to check it with a food thermometer. An oven thermometer is also a useful tool to ensure that your food will turn out to your satisfaction.

        Use The Right Thermometer

        In choosing a thermometer, be sure you use the type of thermometer designed for what you want to do.

        - Meat/poultry thermometer – can be placed in food while cooking.
        - Digital thermometer–recommended for fast readings. Cannot be used in oven while cooking food. Used for checking temperature at the end of cooking time.


        To get an accurate reading, the sensing area of the thermometer should be completely immersed in the thickest part of the food.

        - Whole poultry – USDA recommends inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh of the bird, avoiding the bones.
        - Steaks & chops – place the thermometer in the center of the thickest part and stay clear of bone, fat and gristle.
        - Roasts – place the thermometer midway into the roast, away from the bone and check it in several places to make sure it is done.

        Storage Temperatures

        Keep perishable products out of the danger zone. Use a thermometer to ensure constant and accurate temperatures in your coolers, freezers and refrigerators.