The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness each year in the United States and 3,000 of those people will die. A foodborne illness can result in a nightmare for a restaurant, costing them anywhere from a few thousand dollars to millions. The cost is such that owners should do everything possible to reduce the risk of spreading an illness. Below are five ways to reduce the chance of a foodborne illness in your establishment:
Train your staff– Ensure your staff are properly trained in food safety. Doing so can help to ensure best practices within your restaurant and reduce the risk of spreading germs associated with foodborne illness. The Center for Disease Control has information and tools available to use as resources, but managers should be certified in food-safety.
Know the danger zone – Make sure your hot foods are served hot and cold foods are served cold. Food should not be served “lukewarm”. Germs that cause food poisoning grow quickly in the danger zone, between 40° and 140° F. In the case of foods such as oysters or beef that you may choose to serve raw or lightly cooked, be sure both your menus and waitstaff warn customers of the risks.
Practice safe-handling – Be sure to segregate meat and food-prep stations, store chemicals and cleaning supplies away from any food prep or storage, and never let pre-cooked foods touch raw foods. Your staff should also be sure to use gloves when handling raw meat, seafood, or poultry, as well as ready-to-eat food. Your SFS sales representative will be happy to help you find the right glove for every job. Make sure your staff is knowledgeable on when to use and change gloves. Gloves are NOT a substitute for handwashing.
Keep it clean– Encourage handwashing (the recommended length of time it takes to sing the “ABC’s”), as washing with soap and warm water is one of the most effective tools to combat disease causing pathogens. Good choices are “Clean Hands” soap (#271427) and foaming antibacterial soap (#271430). 89% of foodborne illness outbreaks are attributed to food handlers, so keep those hands clean! In addition, it’s very important to keep kitchen and food prep surfaces clean and sanitized. Many confuse cleaning products, or products that remove the top level of dirt, with products that sanitize, or use a chemical agent to kill bacteria on surfaces. Even deeper cleaning is disinfecting, which means leaving the chemical treatment on a surface longer to thoroughly kill any viruses or pathogens. Though this level of clean is usually reserved for healthcare, it may be used in restaurants when necessary. For sanitizing your surfaces, we recommend Santec Thirty-Five San/Deo RTU No Rinse (#271225). For all purpose cleaning, we recommend Santec Citrus RTU Cleaner Multi-Purpose (#271217). To discuss all of your cleaning and sanitizing needs, call your SFS sales representative.
If you’re sick, stay home! – Not only can a sick server make your customer feel uneasy, they can also make them feel queasy (literally). If a member of your staff is sick, in particular if they are experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, or a fever accompanied by a sore throat, the best thing for them to do is stay home to prevent further spread of illness. In addition, it is required by the FDA that an employee report if they are diagnosed with any of the “Big 5” which include: E. coli, salmonella, norovirus, shigella, and hepatitis A. It is crucial that managers emphasize the importance of employees protecting both customers and fellow employees by preventing the spread of illness.
Though you can’t have your eyes on every potential risk that enters your door, bringing awareness and training to your staff will help reduce these risks and protect your business, your employees, and your customers from potential foodborne illnesses.