Food Safety

8 Food Safety Tips for your Kitchen

cambroEvery restaurant wants to provide not only the best tasting food, but food that is safe to consume. Below are 10 food safety tips you should follow to ensure you are protecting your employees and restaurant customers alike.

1. Wash your hands. Those that prepare the food in a restaurant should be regularly washing their hands. This should especially be done before and after handling any raw foods. Contact after working with raw meats or produce can infect already cooked items.

2. Wash your produce. Wash produce, even if it looks clean. If eating a fruit that can be peeled, scrub the surface to be sure any germs on the outside do not make their way into the interior section.

3. Use clean plates. Serve food on clean plates or trays. If surfaces used for raw meats are not cleaned correctly before cooked meats are placed there afterwards, bacteria are spread.

4. Replace serving plates. If fresh food is placed on an old tray, then the food becomes contaminated.

5. Take advantage of food thermometers. Use a food thermometer and be aware of Minimum Cooking Temperatures for each item. If an exact temperature is not provided, know the characteristics of the food to know when it is ready to serve. For example, different seafood items have certain colors or textures once they are prepared properly.

6. Find the right hot temperature. Keep your hot foods at 140 degrees F or above by using the right restaurant equipment and supplies. Before cooking, thaw frozen meat in a fridge, microwave, or under running water.

7. Find the right cold temperature. Keep your cold foods at 40 degrees F or below. Foods – hot or cold – should never sit out on a counter for longer than two hours.

8. Use two cutting boards. Be sure to have two cutting boards in the kitchen – one for raw meats and one for ready-to-eat foods. This will keep the risk of cross-contamination at bay. Many commercial kitchens use color coded cutting boards and knives to help alleviate this problem.

Lead in Drinking Water Act: What You Need to Know before January

water safetyThe use of lead in drinking water pipes has been restricted since the 1920s but in a few short months a new law will be in effect for restaurants, bars, and other foodservice establishments. If you haven’t considered the impact of these new regulations on your business, there is no better time than September’s “National Food Safety Month” to prepare yourself and your patrons.

For several decades, scientists have warned about the exposure to lead and its effect on health. While concentrations of lead in drinking water are not typically derived from natural sources, one of the most common causes of lead concentration in water is contamination from the corrosion of water supply pipes and plumbing fixtures.

As a result, the United States began restricting lead use in water pipes due to public health concerns. In 1974, The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was passed to regulate the nation’s public drinking water supply. As originally implemented, the SDWA required public water systems to minimize lead concentrations by controlling the corrosion that resulted in lead leaching from water system infrastructure. This could be achieved via careful management of the water’s mineral content, acidity, temperature, and proper maintenance and replacement of a water system’s piping. However, these actions did little to remedy the original source of the lead found in drinking water.

Since the signing of the initial act, there have been several amendments. This includes a1986 amendment that mandated that all pipes, solders, pipe fittings, and plumbing fixtures used in the installation or repair of any public water system, or any residential or nonresidential facility that provides water for human consumption be lead free. By August of 2001, plumbing fittings and fixtures were limited to no more than 4.0% lead.

Most recently, the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act signed by President Obama on January 4, 2011, reduces the amount of lead permissible in water meters to 0.25%. These new regulations will go into effect on January 4, 2014.

With a little over three months before federal regulatory requirements come into effect, many foodservice establishments are already converting to no-lead products to ensure proper inventory for 2014. Please note: if you’re located in California, Vermont or Maryland, your states have already passed comparable laws limiting lead content.

While replacing pipes and outfitting for new regulations is certainly an expense and may even require some serious renovation work, it is important not to overlook your plumbing fixtures. Regulations require that both plumbing and plumbing fixtures meet the new lead-free requirements. This includes updating old faucets and pre-rinse assemblies that do not meet the updated maximums. Taking these steps will help ensure uninterrupted customer service and contribute to the health and well-being of your guests.

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