September is National Food Safety Month, and this month we’ve been sharing tips, resources, posters, infographics, and activity sheets aimed at helping you improve and maintain the highest standards in food safety practices.
Our theme for 2018 is “The Future of Food Safety,” and this week we’re writing about the vital role food handlers play in food safety. This week we want to share some tips, but we also want to share a few assets that will help you start conversations with employees about the important roles they play in food safety.
Good personal hygiene is key to food safety. Employees should know:
- How and when to wash their hands
- What your glove policy is
- What defines a clean uniform
- What jewelry is allowed
- Your policy on long, painted, or false fingernails
Before handling food, employees should wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds, scrubbing front and backs of hands with soap.
Food handlers should also be aware of your glove policy, including new mandates that require a single-use glove be used to cover bandages on the hands.
Uniforms or clothing worn under aprons should be clean and fresh. Aprons should also be clean and not used to cover up dirty clothing.
Jewelry, beyond a plain band ring, should not be worn while preparing food as it can harbor bacteria. Fingernails should be short and natural. Long, false fingernails can potentially fall into food items and may also harbor and pass along harmful pathogens.
Time and Temperature Control
Time and temperature control are two of the foundations of preventing foodborne illness. When food is held between 41 degrees Fahrenheit and 135 degrees Fahrenheit, harmful microorganisms can flourish and eventually lead to illness.
Take time to review with food handlers:
- What foods require temperature control
- How to calibrate and use thermometers
- What to do if TCS foods are not at the proper temperature
Milk and dairy products, meat, eggs, poultry, fish and shellfish, tofu, melons, and tomatoes are among the foods that require time and temperature control. Be sure your food handlers know the entire list, and know their corresponding safe temperatures. Also, ensure food handlers know what to do with any foods that haven’t been held at a safe temperature.
Cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods, or cross-contact with foods that are major allergens, can make customers sick. For example, chopping lettuce on the same cutting board used to chop raw chicken (without cleaning in between use) is a surefire way to make your customers seriously ill. To avoid outbreaks, make sure food handlers know how to:
- Store and cover foods properly
- Separate ready-to-eat and raw foods
- Use equipment designated for raw or cooked food only, and for use with foods containing major allergens.
We’d like to thank Procter & Gamble for sponsoring this week’s information. As the foodservice industry continues to evolve, talk with your staff about how critical their roles are to making sure your customers stay happy and healthy.
If you’d like help starting conversations with your staff about the important roles they play in food safety, download
our free poster and activity sheet, and share a short video.