Let’s face it: Even if you keep your coolers and cooking equipment sparkling clean, a sloppy handoff of food to a customer can negate any special care you’re taking behind the scenes. Make sure your updated health and safety procedures carry through to when you pass food to customers who are collecting takeout or receiving deliveries. For takeout orders, Statefoodsafety.com advises taking extra care to wash hands regularly, keep food preparation areas clean, avoid cross-contamination of items and, if needed, keep food awaiting pickup in either hot- or cold-storage equipment until a customer collects it. Delivery drivers should arrive in a clean vehicle, have a means of cleaning their hands regularly, avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces before touching food or food containers, and have storage that keeps foods at the proper temperature at delivery.
If takeout meals, meal kits or refrigerated meals to be prepared at home represent a larger percentage of your business right now – or you suspect they will in the future – make sure your packaging and heating instructions have kept up with the changes. Prepare clear cooking and reheating instructions and label your packaging accordingly (and don’t forget to list common allergens). If food can be refrigerated or frozen, include consume-by dates too.
Focusing on your food rotation practices in 2020 can help you improve your food safety results by minimizing the opportunities for contamination. It can also help you reduce food waste. The restaurant fulfilment company Dot It advises you add a food rotation label to your food storage bins and ensure the information on the label meshes with the ways in which you’re organizing your kitchen. Each label should identify the product, include the name or initials of the employee who created the label, mention the date and time the product was prepared, and, if helpful, preparation or handling instructions, along with allergy warnings if applicable. Color coding labels can also help you quickly identify when items need to be shifted out.