Top 10 Food Safety Tips for Restaurants and Commercial Kitchens

Top 10 Food Safety Tips for Restaurants and Commercial Kitchens

Top 10 Food Safety Tips for Restaurants and Commercial Kitchens

Food safety is one of the most important aspects of running a restaurant. Read on to learn about the top ten food safety tips.

You’re surely aware of salmonella, E. coli, listeria, and norovirus — but did you know that there are over 250 food borne illnesses? Each year, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million people get sick from a food borne illness. Of those, some 128,000 must be hospitalized, and 3,000 die as a result of getting sick from poor food handling practices.

If you supervise a restaurant or commercial kitchen, it is absolutely imperative to understand food safety. We’ve compiled a list of food safety tips to get you started.

Hand It to Safety

One of the most important tips to help keep your commercial kitchen safe is good, old fashioned hand washing. “Employees Must Wash Hands” is more than just a mandatory poster on the kitchen, bathroom, or break room wall.

Make hand washing an iron-clad rule. Train your employees in proper hand washing procedures.. And administer strict and swift consequences for those who don’t follow this rule.

Make Gloves Mandatory

In addition, your workers should be trained in the proper use of gloves. Whenever someone is preparing food in a commercial kitchen, they should be wearing gloves. Not only that, but they should change gloves frequently. New gloves should be worn each time the cooks switch from raw to cooked food, for example, and vice versa.

Far too many food service workers see gloves as magical shields that somehow render germs powerless, no matter what that person does with their hands. If you see staff members wearing gloves while scratching or touching their skin, and then handling food without changing the gloves, stop them. Retrain your staff as necessary.

Clean and Sanitize Equipment Daily

Of course, the equipment in the kitchen must also be cleaned and sanitized not just on the regular, but properly. Your may have specific requirements surrounding food sanitation, so make sure to ask.

In general, you won’t go wrong with hot, soapy water and/or commercial bleach. Wash down all dishes, prep containers, pots and pans, utensils, cooking surfaces, cutting boards, and countertops. Sweep and mop not just the kitchen proper, but also the coolers, freezers, and storage areas.

Set a Regular Deep Cleaning Schedule

It’s also a smart idea to set a firm schedule of how often the entire kitchen should be scrubbed down and cleaned out. Asking your employees to take care of heavy-duty cleaning “as needed” or “when they have down time” is asking for a dirty kitchen that will fail a health inspection.

During a deep clean, tackle the ovens, grills, fryers, and appliances. Don’t forget grease traps, range hoods, fans and vents, lighting fixtures, and the like.

Avoid Cross Contamination When Storing Food…

Raw meat and poultry should be kept entirely separate from their cooked counterparts. In addition, keep them away from vegetables, prepared sauces, rolls or bread, and any other foodstuff.

This practice ought to be a no-brainer. Anyone who’s ever watched even one episode of “Kitchen Nightmares” knows that raw chicken can’t be kept in a bucket with cooked steak. But you’d be surprised how many shortcuts busy kitchen staff will resort to!

The same policy of strict separation goes for knives, cutting boards, utensils, mixing and prep bowls, trays, storage containers, and thermometers. You must have separate prep and cooking tools and supplies for raw poultry, raw meat, raw seafood, cooked proteins, vegetables, and other foods.

Make Proper Food Storage a Priority

Do you understand how different types of food — dry vs. wet, hot vs. cold, vegetables vs. meats — must be stored? Do your employees? You can be certain that the health inspector does, so you should too.

Several factors must be taken into consideration when storing food. Ventilation is important, as is temperature. Container sizes, how those containers are sealed, and how food is rotated in and out of containers and storage areas are all crucial to safety in commercial kitchens.

Never store food directly on the floor, even if it’s in a box or bin. Never store meat on upper refrigerator or walk-in shelves, where it could potentially drip onto other ingredients underneath.

Make sure your employees understand and follow all protocols related to storage.

Follow the Rule of First In, First Out

Want to make certain that your ingredients are as safe as possible, while minimizing the amount of food you need to discard? Be strict about following a “FIFO” policy. FIFO stands for “First In, First Out.” It means that the oldest supplies should be used up first.

There are two super simple ways to accomplish this.

One is to label every box, bag, package or container with the date it arrived in your kitchen. Then, place it behind any existing stock of that same product or supply in the walk-in or on the shelves. That makes it easier for busy chefs to grab the oldest product first.

While FIFO might not be quite as exciting as YOLO or even BOGO, it will help your restaurant or commercial kitchen run more safely and efficiently.

Make Sure Storage Temperatures Are Right

According to the Food and Drug Administration, food should be keep at 41°F or below, while hot food needs to reach 135°F or above.

This is to ensure that harmful bacteria never gets a chance to grow. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator as well as in the freezer. The refrigerator should operate at 40°F or below, while the freezer temperature must be 0°F or below.

Cook All Food to Temp, Too

Similarly, cooking food to the proper temperature will also prevent food borne illness (as well as dishes returned to the kitchen for being undercooked!). Chicken must be cooked to 165°F. Ground beef, veal, lamb, and pork should reach 160°F. Train your cooks to use thermometers often, rather than relying on the look or feel of a dish to know if it’s thoroughly cooked.

Food Safety Tips Are Not Enough

We’ll be honest: these food safety tips are fairly elementary. Most home cooks understand them, and most of your workers probably know the basics of keeping things clean and sanitary, too.

In order to truly feel confident that your commercial kitchen or restaurant is in compliance with all necessary regulations and guidelines, contact us. We’ll be able to better assess your needs, and help you achieve compliance, by knowing more about your kitchen!

Information About HACCP

Information About HACCP

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. The HACCP System is a systematic and preventative food and pharmaceutical safety approach, which identifies the different hazards in the food production process. The hazards can be biological, chemical, physical, or even allergenic. The system is used mainly to reduce any risk of producing harmful end products.


The system is used on all food chain stages. It is known to be effective on every stage as well, from food preparation and production, to packaging and distribution. It is also considered as a hazard prevention program, rather than an end product inspection. Generally, it keeps foodstuff, especially processed foods, safe from the time of harvest until it is consumed by an individual.


The program relies on seven principles. The first one is conduction of analysis, this is where plans of determining the hazards and creating preventive measures on controlling them are done. Second is identification of the critical control points where the steps in food manufacturing process, and at which point the control should be applied, is identified. The third is the establishment of the critical limits for the critical control points, this is where the maximum critical limit to which a biological, chemical, or physical hazard needs to be controlled to prevent a possible hazard.


The remaining principles are as follows: The fourth principle is the establishment of the critical control point monitoring requirements, wherein activities are monitored to make sure that the process is under control for each critical point. Fifth is establishment of corrective actions, this entails actions that must be taken when there is a deviation from the established critical limit. The sixth principle deals with the establishment of procedures in ensuring that the system in place is working for its intended purpose; and the seventh principle deals with establishing record keeping procedures.


The seven principles are also used in the ISO 22000 FSMS 2005. The standard uses GMP and SSOP, which are elements of pre-requisite programs. The standard is known to be a comprehensive food safety management system, which is utilized by top food chains and manufacturers.


Implementation of the HACCP program entails monitoring, verification, and validation of the regular work flow to ensure they are compliant with the requirements. The work flow should be consistent in all stages of the process all the time. There are a number of assurance companies who provide program training nationwide. This allows more entrepreneurs to be able to get their company accredited.


Although the program is effective, it is not meant to be used by itself. It is used along with other established management programs, and works with those. Other programs used should involve GHP or Good Hygienic Practice, GMP or Good Manufacturing Practice, GSP or Good Storage Practice, and GAP or Good Agricultural Practice.


The HACCP System was formulated in the early 1990’s. The US Food and Drug Administration, along with the US Department of agriculture believe that the mandatory programs for meat and juice production are effective in eliminating the health hazards that were commonly involved in food processing and distribution.

HACCP Plan Template

HACCP Plan Template

HACCP plan template is a document that is completed to summarize control measures implemented at critical control points for significant food safety hazards identified in a particular food process.


Most organizations implement HACCP based on Recommended International Code of Practice General Principles of Food Hygiene CAC/RCP 1-1969, Rev. 4-2003 which contains guidelines for implementing a HACCP System.


Prior to application of HACCP, prerequisite programs such as good manufacturing practices should be in place to ensure that fundamental hygienic conditions are in place.


The key to any HACCP system is to identify Critical Control Points (CCPs) and ensure measures are in place to control the hazards identified, these controls are summarized in the HACCP Plan template.


A HACCP plan template should look like the table summarized below:


Step Hazard Control Measure(s) CCPs Critical Limits Monitoring Corrective Action Record(s)


When conducting a HACCP study there are a number of preliminary steps which should be conducted to assist in identifying hazards, these include: assembling a multi-disciplinary HACCP team with knowledge of the process and HACCP. The HACCP team should generate a product description with relevant safety information such shelf life and storage conditions and also identify intended use of the product including the end user such as vulnerable members of the population. The last steps before conducting a Hazard Analysis are to draw a flow diagram of the process for all steps from material intake to delivery to the customer and then to physically verify the flow diagram on-site.


A HACCP system is developed based on seven principles:


  • 1. Conduct a hazard analysis and identify significant hazards in the process.
  • 2. Determine the Critical Control Points (CCPs) for the control of significant hazards identified using the decision tree.
  • 3. Establish the critical limit for each critical control point. These are the limits outside of which the hazard would be out of control.
  • 4. Establish monitoring procedures to ensure the hazard is controlled at the critical control point.
  • 5. Confirm the corrective action to be taken the result of monitoring indicate the CCP is outside of critical limits.
  • 6. Verify that the HACCP system is working effectively.
  • 7. Establish HACCP documentation including procedures and records.


So looking at the HACCP plan template, the step is the step number identified in the process flow diagram. A hazard can be biological, chemical or physical for example Salmonella which could cause food poisoning, Peanuts which could cause an allergic reaction or Glass which could injure the consumer.


Control measures could be pasteurization, segregation or filtration for example depending on the hazard. Pasteurization is a common Critical Control Point which has specific validated Critical Limits which are defined as 71.7°C for 15 seconds.


Automatic continuous monitoring is preferred as it provides more assurance but in some cases this is not possible and monitoring is manual. Corrective action required can be to stop the process and quarantine affective product until it is determined that the product is hazard free or the product is reprocessed. Records are important for ‘due diligence’ to show that hazards were identified and all reasonable precautions were taken to eliminate the hazard.


Below is a HACCP plan template with example information for the hazard E.coli CCP of pasteurization


Step Hazard Control Measure(s) CCPs Critical Limits Monitoring Corrective Action Record(s)
1. E.coli Heat Treatment to kill E.coli Pasteurization Minimum 71.7°C for minimum 15 seconds Automatic monitoring Quarantine affected product & reprocess Process Record 1
Corrective Action Record 1