While diners don’t have to think about the journey their food has taken to reach their plates, we – as professional chefs – do.
With food items being passed from one location to another and handled by many pairs of hands along the way, the potential for contamination and spoilage is high. That’s why it’s key that you know what happens to food as its delivered to your location – and learn how you can help ensure this process is a smooth one that assures the freshness and cleanliness of your ingredients.
Take a look at the entire process
Here’s how to ensure food safety at every step
1. Selecting reliable suppliers
- Good reputation: Choose suppliers with good past records.
- Quantity and quality: Personally inspect the quality of a supplier’s food to ensure freshness, then decide if they can provide the quantities you need on a daily or weekly basis.
- Reliability: Your supplier should have no problems providing you with on-time deliveries of fresh inventory.
- Testing: When working with a new supplier, always order samples or small quantities to test them out before committing to larger contracts.
- Always check for cross contamination (e.g. raw meat mixed with vegetables).
- Ensure product specifications are met: If food is supposed to be frozen, ensure it is not thawed or defrosted.
- Always inspect food packaging for damage and avoid keeping supplies at room temperature for too long.
- Check the date of expiry on all products and return any items that are expired.
3. Storing & issuing
- Remove carton boxes and do not place food items on the floor (to prevent the breeding of cockroaches and rodents).
- Observe a “first-in, first-out” method of stock allocation to maintain the freshness of your ingredients.
- Prevent cross-contamination by storing ready-to-eat food above raw food, and at correct temperatures.
- Cover both raw and cooked food at all times to prevent exposure to oxygen.
- Cool cooked food before refrigerating to prevent moisture from building up.
- Once frozen food is thawed, never re-freeze it.
- Once food is removed from the fridge, it must be cooked within 2 hours.
- Thaw frozen meat/seafood in a plastic container under running water to prevent exposing food to room temperature.
- Use separate chopping boards for raw/cooked foods.
5. Cooking & holding
- Cook food thoroughly at its required minimum temperature.
- Avoid keeping food exposed at room temperature.
- Do not combine freshly prepared food with food that is being held (and could have been contaminated).
- During reheating of held food, ensure that it reaches the required minimum temperature for at least 15 seconds.
- Use food covers for ready-to-eat food to prevent exposure to oxygen.
6. Plating & serving
- Serving staff must maintain good hygiene while serving food. For example, holding cups by the base/handle and not by the mouth, and using a tray if possible.
- Serving staff must be aware of their personal hygiene.
- Only use clean, sanitised utensils.
- Clean regularly: Ensure tables are wiped, floors are swept and mopped, and rubbish is emptied.
7. Managing leftovers
- Throw these away immediately.
- Reheat to required minimum temperature.
- Only reheat once, and consume within 12 hours.
- To prevent wastage, untouched leftovers can be used as ingredients in other dishes provided that:
- Dry food must be reused within 2 days.
- Wet food must be reused within 1 day.
8. Product tracing & recalls
- If a product is recalled, immediately remove all food from service, kitchen and storage.
- Backtracking of activities: Track the serving of food, as well as how it was produced, stored and received.
- Assign someone to respond to customer complaints: Record information from customers such as their name, contact, day and time they dined at your restaurant.
Understanding each step of the food handling process will reduce the risk of contamination and ensure safer food is being served to your diners.