Food safety is something restaurant and food service professionals should think about every day of the year. Use the following tips to keep food safety at the top of your mind in your daily operations. The following tips are excellent for both commercial and domestic food preparers.
Receiving and Storage
1. Check expiration and use-by dates when receiving food and identify the required government inspection stamps (when appropriate).
2. Check the temperature of each storage area to make sure food is kept at 41degrees Fahrenheit or below if refrigerated, or 32 degrees or below if hard frozen. (0 degrees F is best for long-term storage).
3. Store cooked and ready-to-eat foods above raw food in the refrigerator to avoid cross-contamination. Also, when storing raw meat, store beef on the upper shelf (but below cooked food and vegetables) then pork below beef, then chicken on the lowest shelf. NEVER store ANY food below raw chicken.
4. Store large amounts of thick food, such as chili, in shallow pans with a product depth no greater than 2 inches.
5. Store frozen, raw fish in airtight and moisture-proof wrapping.
6. Rapidly cool foods by proper methods before refrigerating to prevent bacterial growth and to avoid raising the temperature of units and endangering other foods stored there.
Proper cooling methods are:
a. to place food in shallow pan that is four (4) inches deep with no more than two (2) inches deep of food or food materials in the pan. Leave the top two (2) inches for air flow. Place in refrigerator, loosely covered with lid or foil until cold (41 degrees F or colder). Once proper cold storage temperature is reached, cover the pan tightly with a lid.
b. Stirring food product to release heat from the inner core of the pot prior to placement into refrigerator.
c. Ice may be placed around the container of food OR added to the food if appropriate. The ice must be made from potable (drinkable) water.
d. Using a blast chiller or blast freezer unit to bring down temperature to proper coldness (41 degrees Fahrenheit or colder) is also acceptable.
7. Use the FIFO method. Label and date product, and use food in the order, in which it is received - first in, first out.
8. Quickly move received items to storage. Do not leave them on the dock or in hallways.
Preparation, Cooking and Service
9. Thaw frozen food in a refrigerator or under running potable water at a temperature of 70 degrees F or lower as part of the cooking process or in a microwave if in smaller quantities. Never thaw at room temperature.
Proper thawing methods are:
a. Frozen food may be thawed by placing in a refrigerator that keeps it cold (41 degrees Fahrenheit or colder). This must be done two to three (2-3) DAYS prior to use.
b. Microwave thawing is acceptable, as long as food is cooked IMMEDIATELY after thawing.
c. Running potable cool water over frozen food product is acceptable IF the water is dripping or otherwise flowing over the product in the sink. It is NOT acceptable to submerge in a sink full or other container of water.
d. Thawing food as part of the uninterrupted food cooking process is acceptable. For example, you may take a frozen hamburger beef patty and begin cooking it from a frozen state all the way to completion. However, you may NOT place large food items such as whole turkeys or hams in the oven frozen. Large food items must be thawed using another method.
10. Wash fruits and vegetables in sinks used only for food preparation. Do NOT prepare food in the sink used to wash or sanitize dishes or wash hands. ALWAYS use potable water for all food preparation processes.
11. Use cleaned and sanitized cutting boards and knives to avoid cross-contamination.
12. Prepare pasta, meat, egg, fish, and salads less than 24 hours before service.
13. Measure internal food temperatures in several places including the thickest part of the product. Clean and sanitize thermometers before and after each use.
14. Never mix new food with old or raw food with cooked.
15. Never use hot-holding equipment to cook or reheat food, only to keep food hot.
16. Transfer reheated food to holding equipment only when the food is at 165 degrees F.
17. Cook or heat processed foods to the proper internal temperature:
Poultry, stuffing, stuffed meat and stuffed pasta - 165 degrees F for 15 seconds
Ground meats (including ground beef and poultry) -155 degrees F for 15 seconds
Pork, game animals, communited fish and meats, eggs in multi-serving batches - 155 degrees F for 15 seconds.
Fish, seafood, beef (slices, cubes, etc.) veal, lamb, and shell eggs for immediate service - 145 degrees F for 15 seconds.
18. Keep potentially hazardous food, which must remain cold, at 41degrees F or below. Potentially hazardous food (PHF) means a food that requires time and temperature control for safety (TCS) to limit pathogen growth or toxin production. For the official definition according to the State TFER Code, click here and search for the words “Potentially hazardous food.”
19. Keep potentially hazardous food (see above definition), which must remain hot, at 140 degrees F or above.
20. Use pasteurized eggs in all recipes in which eggs are not cooked or cannot be cooked to 145 degrees F or higher.
21. When tasting food, ladle a small amount of it into a small dish and taste with a clean spoon. Remove dish and spoon from the area and have them cleaned and sanitized when done.
22. Stay at home if you are sick. Do not prepare food for others when you have any of the following symptoms: fever, diarrhea, upset stomach, nausea or vomiting, sore throat, sinus infection, coughing, sneezing or dizziness.
23. Wash hands often using proper hand-washing techniques. Proper hand washing procedures are as follows: wash your hands with hot water (at least 110 degrees F) for at least twenty (20) seconds all the way up to your elbows using soap. Rinse, and then immediately dry using paper towels or an air dryer. You are not allowed to dry your hands with cloth towels, clothing, aprons, or other objects.
24. Wash your hands BEFORE putting on gloves and when changing into a fresh pair of gloves.
25. Change gloves at least every two hours during continuous use and more frequently if necessary.
26. Keep nails short and clean. Do not wear fingernail polish or artificial nails.
Cleaning and Sanitizing
27. Clean and sanitize work table tops between uses and at the end of the day.
28. Keep wiping cloths stored in a sanitizing solution. Dry wiping cloths may only be used to wipe spills off of single-service containers. Each dry cloth may be used ONE TIME ONLY, then must be set aside for cleaning.
29. Wipe up spills on floors as soon as possible.
30. Store cleaning cloths, and scrubbing pads, in a sanitizing solution or air dry them. Sponges are NOT permitted in a commercial food establishment.
31. If using hazardous cleaning materials, be sure you have been trained to know emergency procedures for exposure to the product.
Food Recalls and Advisories:
For recalls related to pre-packaged food items (except for meat), go to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website.
For meat recalls and raw vegetable recalls, go to the United States Department of Agriculture website.
Other Useful Food Safety Links:
General Food Safety Information
STATE OF TEXAS Department of State Health Services