If proper food safety principles are not followed, foodborne illness and other dangerous consequences can occur. Often, managers or employees do not recognize that they may be contaminating the food they serve. In order to correct these behaviors, health inspectors from local regulatory authorities visit various establishments and discuss what needs to be corrected. Below are five common food safety violations and tips on how to correct them:
- Storing or using chemicals on or near food and food-contact surfaces
If chemicals get into food, it can be very harmful to the consumer. The best way to prevent chemicals from getting into food is making sure that they are used and stored away from food and food-contact surfaces. In addition, it is important to clearly label all chemicals so they are not confused for other chemicals or even food items. This Use Chemicals Safely Poster details other ways to use chemicals safely.
- Not cleaning and sanitizing utensils, equipment, or machines regularly
Cleaning and sanitizing utensils, equipment, and machines routinely is critical in preventing foodborne illness. Utensils, such as cutting boards and knives, should be cleaned at least once every four hours if in constant use. Utensils should also be cleaned and sanitized between tasks, such as cutting raw chicken and then slicing raw vegetables. Employees should regularly clean and sanitize machines, such as ice and soda dispensers, as directed in the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent pathogen growth.
- Infrequent or improper handwashing
Handwashing is one of the most critical components for preventing foodborne illness. Employees should wash their hands after completing tasks that could have contaminated their hands, such as taking out the garbage and handling money. This also includes if they touch their face or hair. In addition, handwashing should be done before putting on a new pair of gloves.
- Having ill food workers performing normal duties
Ill employees working their normal duties can cause foodborne illness outbreaks. Even though you may need the employee to work due to high demand, it is important to restrict or exclude the employee based on the symptoms or diagnoses they have. This Food Worker Illness Flowchart will help you know when to restrict or exclude an employee if they become ill.
- Temperature abuse of time/temperature control for safety (TCS) foods
TCS foods require either time control or temperature control in order to limit the amount of pathogens on the food. If foods are allowed to be in the temperature danger zone (41oF to 135oF) for too long, then pathogens can grow to harmful levels and can cause foodborne illness. To prevent this from happening, keep hot-held foods hot (above 135oF) and cold-held foods cold (below 41oF). When thawing foods, be sure to use approved methods, such as in the refrigerator or under cool running water. When cooling foods using the two-stage cooling process, use the correct time and temperature controls to ensure the food is safe.
Correcting these five behaviors can help keep you, your employees, and your customers safe. For more resources or to learn more about food safety principles, look around our Resources page.