Your cutting boards can be sources of contamination if they’re not cleaned and sanitized thoroughly – and according to the material they are made from. Broadly, you need to ensure the boards are scraped free of food particles, washed with warm, soapy water, rinsed, sanitized and then dried – either with a clean cloth or air-dried. The sanitizing step differs by the material of your board. For glass, plastic and stainless steel boards, State Food Safety advises sanitizing in the dishwasher or with an FDA-approved sanitizer for food contact surfaces. Marble boards should be sanitized by hand in a chlorine solution, while wooden boards are best sanitized in a quaternary ammonium-based sanitizer.
Everyone knows the importance of handwashing but not enough people actually do it, and the effects can be dramatic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that in cases where food was contaminated by food workers, 89 percent of the outbreaks spread from the hands. In addition to washing hands with soap and water for 10 to 15 seconds, consider addressing sources of recontamination too—bathroom faucets and door handles can recontaminate the hands of someone who has just washed them. Have paper towels within reach of these places so they can be used to turn off faucets and open doors, and make sure these surfaces are cleaned regularly to prevent the spread of bacteria.
In your restaurant, is there a stark division between food preparation areas and the areas where staff store and access their personal belongings? These items can introduce pathogens to your food preparation areas. To minimize contamination risk, make sure all personal electronics, clothing, and even items used on the job, such as uniforms, are stored in a room away from food. Employees should access these items on breaks only, and with thorough handwashing afterwards.
Poorly maintained appliances aren’t just energy drains but also food safety hazards – and if you aren’t using up-to-date technology to monitor your equipment right now, ensure you are manually checking it daily for signs of malfunction. The walk-in cooler, for example, is among the top sources of food inspection violations. Monitor your cooler’s working order by confirming there is no difference between the temperature of the air in the cooler and the food being stored. Look for traces of mold and ensure the door closes securely. Check for the build-up of grease on the exhaust fan, as well as any water dripping from it, which can pose a food contamination risk.