Good food safety management begins where food delivery ends—at the delivery bay. Many things can and do happen along the miles between the supplier’s gates and the restaurant’s doorsteps: the food items could get contaminated because they were improperly sealed or they could spoil because the delivery van’s refrigeration failed while in transit. Given these uncertainties and the prevalence of food-borne illnesses, the food manager should not only know the procedure in receiving food safely but also know when to reject food deliveries.
Here are five steps for safely receiving food deliveries:
Assess the vehicle. This might seem out of place, but it’s actually a good indicator of the condition of the delivery. Check the visual condition of the delivery vehicle. If it’s poorly maintained, treat that as a big red flag. And treat the delivery with wariness and prejudice.
Note delivery timeliness. Timeliness is not an option in food delivery but a must. This is because food items must be promptly stored at the correct temperatures to prevent bacterial growth and spoilage. If food is not delivered on time, the food items could become unsafe later. Consider rejecting the delivery to stop habitual tardiness.
Examine the packaging. Immediately give the delivery the eye test. Does the package or container have holes? If it does, reject. Does it have a broken seal? If yes, reject. Does the canned product bulge is it dented or is swollen anywhere (a sure sign that its contents are rotten)? Then reject. Does the package look tampered with or damaged by pests? Unsure? If it doesn’t look pristine, reject!
Check the temperature. Next, check the temperature. Heat is the enemy because food spoils fast at certain temperatures. Every food delivery should be checked. For instance, milk should be received at 45 degrees F while eggs should be at 41 degrees F upon delivery. Hot foods should be at 135 degrees F or higher. Each food item has its own published critical temperature zone that should guide the receiving food personnel. In addition to checking for temperature, an ocular test should also be made. Are there fluid stains on the packaging? Does the frozen food look like it had thawed and had been refrozen? Any of these is a cause for rejecting the delivery outright.
Check food quality. The temperature test by itself is not enough. Far more important is passing the on-the-spot assessment of food quality. This is an informal test but it’s time proven, easy to do, and effective. It involves the use of the senses of sight, smell, and touch. If the food looks moldy (or has an abnormal color) or smells moldy (or funny) or has the wrong consistency, don’t even think about accepting the delivery.
To learn more about food safety in the restaurant setting, enroll in Learn2serve’s fully online HACCP Food Safety Training courses.