Ever found a hair or fingernail in your food? Such objects in food are disgusting, but worse than that, they can be dangerous. Hair and fingernails in food are examples of physical hazards—foreign and potentially dangerous items that find their way into food. Some more examples of physical hazards are: broken glass, fish bones, dirt, and packing material.
When training employees about physical hazards, consider these questions:
- How can physical hazards get into food?
Some physical hazards are already in food naturally and need to be removed. Others get into food from the environment due to negligence.
- What are common naturally occurring physical hazards?
Fish bones, seeds, crustacean shells
- True or False: Large, visible objects in food are more harmful than small objects.
False. Items in food that are easy for a customer to miss are more likely to be eaten by the customer and cause harm than large items that the customer will most likely notice.
Teach employees these important points about preventing physical hazards:
- Demonstrate the proper way to remove natural physical hazards, like bones and fruit pits.
- Explain how certain hygiene practices can prevent physical hazards, for example: tying back long hair, keeping fingernails clean and groomed (no nail polish), and not wearing earrings or other jewelry that could fall off.
- Demonstrate how to properly bandage wounds, so bandages won’t fall into food.
- Review the importance of thoroughly cleaning up debris caused by accidents, like breaking dishes.
- Instill the importance of keeping all equipment safe to use, for example: keep machines and knives in good condition and cover light bulbs in foodservice areas.
Preventing physical hazards is an important part of all foodservice employees’ jobs. Encourage employees to take this responsibility seriously and teach them the proper procedures to prevent physical hazards. If a customer finds a Band-Aid in his or her food—it doesn’t matter how good the food is—that customer will not come back to the restaurant. And the prospect of putting your customers at risk of eating the Band-Aid or the biological hazards associated with Band-Aids is even worse than their losing business.
Remember, you can always direct your staff to our online Food Handler Training to review hazards in the workplace and other food safety topics.