Safe Food Handling Could Save Your Business

By: Malcolm J. Richmond

Whatever restaurant in Melbourne you happen to be the 4 Mile Restaurant & Pub, Chez Michael, or the Heron Rock Bistro, food safety is important. Even if you have the most successful restaurant in all of Melbourne, all it takes is one food handling mistake to seriously damage your business.

The restaurant business is all about repeat customers and public perception of your establishment. Your reputation is everything. If you have even one lawsuit concerning food handling or food preparation mistakes in your kitchen, it can spell disaster- not just for legal defense fees, either. Your reputation could be seriously harmed, even ruined.

Not only do you need to take certain basic steps and make sure all of your kitchen employees always do in order to prevent directly harming customers with something like food poisoning, you also have to do things right for the sanitation inspectors who may decide to drop in on you and see how you really run things. Even an employee who sees food handling mistakes in the kitchen may squeal on you, especially if they ever lose their job.

And there is more to this than simply properly storing food and disposing of waste.

One of the basic things that must be done is to constantly clean and keep clean food preparation areas and equipment. This seems simple, but it's simple to screw it up, too. For instance, different cutting boards should be used to prepare meat, seafood, vegetables. Some places use stainless steel counters on which to do cutting, but this can dull your knives and some people say meat absorbs a little bit of "steel flavor" and, while harmless, that's not good. Plastic cutting boards are more sanitary and easier to clean than wooden ones. Each cutting board needs to be thoroughly rinsed or put into the washer after every meal preparation. Chlorine bleach may be used for a deeper cleaning, but make sure the rinse is extremely thorough if bleach is used for cleaning.

Utensils need to be washed after every meal they are used to prepare, as well.

To ensure that all harmful bacteria have been killed, meats have to be cooked to a minimum internal temperature - 69 degrees for pork and red meats, 74 degrees for seafood. Even if a customer orders a rare steak, it must be cooked to 69 degrees for at least 15 seconds to reduce the risk of food poisoning. If you have any meats which are not definitely fresh, then you must make sure to prepare them very well done.

Preparing raw foods such as sushi requires extreme care. Serving these foods really means that you have to just have a top-notch clean kitchen and preparation staff, period, in addition to making doubly sure your sushi supplier is very sanitary. Disposable gloves and hair coverings or tie-backs must always be worn by people handling sushi and the preparation area should be kept so clean that, as the saying goes, one could eat off the floor. Any sushi that is not at its freshest needs to be thrown out.

It's shocking how many kitchen workers do not constantly wash their hands with soap and water between preparing meals, even if they've touched raw meat. Kitchen workers need to wash their hands between every meal preparation, and really it's a good idea to do quick hand washings between different handlings (such as going from meat to vegetables) during a meal preparation.

By enforcing a strict kitchen sanitation and food handling program, you will be protecting the interests of your customers as well as those of your restaurant.

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Author: Malcolm J. Richmond will reveal you how to avoid food safety risks to your restaurant business. Visit the "Food Safety" website for more great recommendations on protecting your business by implementing food health standards.

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