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Protect Customers from Foodborne Illness
Michael Rich

As a restaurant owner you are not only responsible for the health and wellbeing of your employees, but of ensuring the customers patronizing your establishment don't leave with a foodborne illness.

A foodborne illness is any illness resulting from food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, chemicals or poisons.

However, by taking the following steps you can help eliminate the possibility of foodborne illness in your establishment.

1. Clean - Wash hands and surfaces often

Always wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Clean cutting boards, utensils, and countertops with a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water. You may also use a properly mixed sanitizer solution.

2. Separate - Don't cross-contaminate

Cross contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria from one food item to another by means of a nonfood surface. To avoid cross contamination keep the juices of raw meat, poultry and fish away from other food.

This can be accomplished by properly spacing item, or creating designated areas for in your storage cabinets for the appropriate food item.

3. Cook - Cook to proper temperatures

Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer.

Cook all poultry to an internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.

For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.

4. Serve at Proper Temp

Not only must employees cook food to the proper temperature, but they must serve it at the right heat to prevent the potential for foodborne illness. Hot foods typically need to be served at 140 °F or warmer and cold at 40 °F or colder.

When serving food at a buffet, keep food hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays. Keep food cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice or use small serving trays and replace them often.

Perishable food should not be left out more than 2 hours at room temperature (1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F).

5. Storage

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of preventing foodborne illness is storage. Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer with an appliance thermometer. The refrigerator should be at 40 °F or below and the freezer at 0 °F or below. All food must have the proper expiration dates. Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours (1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F).

Michael Rich is a safety writer and researcher for Safety Services Company, the largest supplier of safety training materials and compliance products in North America. To learn more about the safety solutions they offer visit

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