Preventing Foodborne Illness in a Commercial Kitchen

Posted February 1, 2016 by CPS


food service employee washing hands


If you haven’t been reading the news lately, you may have missed recent stories covering foodborne illness and contamination outbreaks at some popular food chains in the United States. While these instances of contaminated food affected many peoples’ health, it did even greater damage to the brands that experienced the outbreak. People lost confidence in the brand and therefore these companies’ sales have also been affected.


When it comes to food safety in your commercial kitchen or restaurant, we hope you learn from these recent events and choose to take the proactive approach rather than reactive. Preventing foodborne illness requires that you take the proper steps when handling, preparing, and serving food to your customers. Commercial kitchen and restaurant managers in particular will want to pay attention here; since whoever runs the show is usually the one to take the blame in the instance of an outbreak.


Make sure your kitchen and your staff are following the best practices when it comes to protecting the food you serve to customers. Here are some areas you may want to review.


  • Education & Training


The first step in protecting against food contamination is to make sure your entire staff-from food prep to line cooks to the wait staff- are educated on the consequences of food contamination. Make sure that your staff is also trained to take all the precautions against such contamination as it relates to their role in the kitchen.


For example, all staff must practice proper hand washing, but the serving staff will be expected to sanitize menus and the food prep staff will be required to wash all produce before prepping. Having each staff member educated and trained in their proper role will help ensure that everyone is doing their part to maintain food integrity and safety in your establishment.


  • Safe Handling


As mentioned above, not all staff will be directly handling the food. However, the ones that are need to be practice safe handling habits. Such habits include making sure raw meat is not being handled directly next to produce, that food is thawed following regulatory practices, and that cross contamination in general is avoided at all costs.


  • Cooking Precautions


All cooks need to be using thermometers to check the temperatures of food, especially meat. Many issues arise when those cooking the food rely on their fingers or guessing as to when food “looks” done enough. Making sure that food is cooked to the proper temperature helps greatly reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses; since bacteria cannot survive at certain temperatures.


  • Proper Storage


Food should always be stored in clean containers without damage such as cracks. Labeling food and dating it is also a best practice so that as staff rotate throughout the day and week, it is always clear what food is and how long it has been there. It is important that you teach your staff NOT to disregard the dates on food labels.


  • Kitchen Equipment


Even if the food is handled, cooked, stored, and served with great care, there is still potential risk for contamination from unclean or broken kitchen equipment. Not taking the time to remove food from drains, clean off old grease and food particles, or using broken equipment that has had a temporary fix will all result in compromised food integrity.


Foodborne illness is not something to be taken lightly. Take the time to review this list and implement any needed procedures to make sure you avoid food contamination. In doing this you will protect your reputation and more importantly, your customers.


If you need parts or repair for your commercial kitchen equipment, call CPS today (800) 837-8327. We have an extensive parts inventory and dedicated, knowledgeable technicians standing by to help. We want to help you keep your kitchen clean and running at its top performance!