How to Prevent Foodborne Illness

Ensuring that the food you serve to your patrons is safe, varied and delicious is the cornerstone of your restaurant's success. Knowing how to prevent foodborne illness is crucial to your restaurant's reputation and longevity. Here's what you and your team need to know:

1. Cleanliness is Key

Keeping every aspect of your restaurant scrupulously clean is vital to limiting the growth of bacteria, fungi and other elements that can lead to foodborne illnesses. This means ensuring that your employees wash their hands before and after handling food, as well as after using the restroom and touching money. Use hot and soapy water on countertops after food has been prepared. Rinse with hot water before drying with a clean towel.

2. Add Effective Sanitizing Methods

Getting your dishes clean is only the first step in cleanliness. In order to provide added protection against the formulation of bacteria on them, you need to make sure that they are also sanitized. One of the most effective methods of doing so is also one that increases your productivity. Using a dishwasher that reaches -- and maintains -- a surface temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit sanitizes your dishes. Using waterproof temperature strips making this step hands-off, initiative and easy to monitor for all your staff -- regardless of how busy your restaurant gets.

3. Prevent Cross Contamination

Your kitchen needs to have designated places where raw fish, meat and poultry are prepared and stored. Any other foods -- including fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as prepared dishes and products -- should be kept away from that area.

4. Cook Foods to the Right Temperature

Make it a regular practice to use a cooking thermometer to verify that the proper temperature for each food you are cooking is reached. Depending on what you cooking, most meats -- with the exception of all poultry and most hams -- need to reach an internal temperature of at least 140 degrees. Poultry, eggs, casseroles and fully-cooked ham that is being reheated generally need to have a minimum internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.

Guard against the possibility of foodborne illnesses by following the above tips. They can help your restaurant avoid the type of short- and long-term brand damage that befalls restaurants such as Chipotle. The chain is still trying to salvage its image and recover more than two years after the E. coli scare that gripped its restaurants.

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