Food poisoning. Those dangerous two words no one in the food industry ever wants to hear. While it is obviously bad for consumers, it can be equally as unpleasant for business owners, if they’re not careful.
It is estimated that there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses reported each year in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), food-related illnesses are responsible for nearly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths annually.
Three years ago, an E.coli outbreak at a popular restaurant chain harmed numerous customers and the business had to temporarily close locations in multiple states. While the restaurant may have lost revenue during these closures, it also lost customer trust. A recent poll revealed that, two years after the incident, consumer confidence in the restaurant chain has still not recovered.
The moral of this story is simple – an ounce of prevention can help keep your business from becoming the lead story on the evening news.
Fortunately, there are some guidelines businesses can follow to help keep customers safe and the CDC off their doorstep.
Proper food safety and temperature handling are critical to ensure that the food we consume is free of pathogens and bacteria that can cause illness. Here are some key recommendations for proper storage and delivery:
- Upon delivery, unload all perishable foods and place in walk-in coolers as quickly as possible.
- Temperatures for walk-in coolers should be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
- Temperatures for walk-in freezers should be set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
- Consider using special appliance thermometers designed to monitor temperature. Thus, if there is a problem with the cooling system, you’ll have the opportunity to know about it before it’s too late.
- Refrigerate perishable items such as raw meat, poultry, seafood, shellfish and eggs, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables within 2 hours of being offloaded.
- If the air temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, refrigerate within 1 hour.
- Pre-wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before refrigeration.
- Pre-wash, wash, rinse, and sanitize using a 3-sink basin method, with a sanitization solution, and air drying to ensure all foods and storage spaces are cleaned to code.
- Ask your delivery company about their transporting processes. Raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs should be separated from the fresh produce. The same holds true when storing these foods in your walk-in coolers and freezers.
- Use soap and hot water to clean and maintain all equipment and to prevent food contamination by harsh chemicals.
- Harsh chemicals also can cause a reaction with the metal parts and piping in your equipment, creating issues with food storage safety.
- Wipe down workspaces, walk-in coolers, freezers, sinks and countertops with a sanitization solution.
Maintaining safe practices while handling and preparing food is equally as important when it comes to preventing contamination and halting the spread of pathogens and bacteria. These food preparation guidelines will help keep a business on the right track:
- Never thaw food on a prep station.
- Defrost frozen foods in a refrigerated area, in cold water or in a microwave.
- When thawing food in a microwave or in cold water, the food must be cooked as soon as it has defrosted.
- When cooling cooked foods, food storage containers should be shallow to cool the cooked food more quickly and evenly.
- When preparing to cook food, use one cutting board that is strictly for meat, poultry and seafood and use a separate cutting board for produce.
- Always use hot, soapy water at the washing station for proper cleaning of cutting boards and plates that previously housed raw meat, seafood and poultry.
- Use a food thermometer ensure food is cooked to a safe internal temperature.
- Post a safety guide that contains minimum cook temperatures for each kind of meat for employees where it is easy to see and use as a reference.
- When cooking in a microwave oven, food should be on a microwave-safe container or plate and covered.
- Rotating the food throughout the cooking process helps even reheating.
- Keep current on all food safety standards and regulations.
Last but not least, make sure you have reliable equipment. High-efficiency, low-maintenance control systems are the gold standard at JAX Refrigeration, so if your business is ready for a new system or upgrade, we’re here to help.
We bring more than 20 years of knowledge to our industrial control system design and implementation. We also understand that not all projects are one-size-fits-all. With that in mind, our licensed engineers work alongside our clients at every phase to ensure their requirements are met with the most-cutting edge technologies available.
That is what sets JAX apart, and what keeps our customers coming back.