Keeping your facility clean and organized is a basic per-requisite to any good food safety program. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years working at various food service establishments. If you’re not already doing some of these things, you should strongly consider implementing them. Having a plan for the flow of your food will prevent waste, save money and improve food safety. You might want to try some of these tips:
1. Use a color code system: for items such as cutting boards, utensils or storage containers use red for beef, yellow for chicken and green for fruits/vegetables (for example). Communicate to your staff what each color will be used for and enforce the practice. This can help prevent cross contamination throughout the day as food is prepared.
2. Label food containers: For foods prepared ahead of time, label the food with the date and time so employees know which foods need to be used first. Make first in first out (FIFO) standard procedure. This will help prevent waste and favorable conditions for bacteria to grow. Most successful kitchens I’ve been in have a good FIFO system to keep fresh food going out and money coming in.
3. Organize food storage areas: Label locations where foods go or use one type of container for a certain food. Separate raw and ready to eat (RTE) foods. Keeping things neat and orderly will help prevent cross contamination. Make sure containers are closed tightly and stored properly (off the ground) to prevent spills which can attract pests.
4. Clean under stuff: A lot of times when employees are in a rush to go home, equipment doesn’t get a thorough cleaning. This can cause a buildup of food particles which will attract pests and promote bacterial growth. Clean behind the stove and under the slicer. Move stuff around. Really make sure things are clean and sanitized below the surface.
5. Implement a ‘closing list’: Keep a list of what needs to be cleaned, how food is to be stored and what all needs to be done before closing up shop. Maybe a batch of soup made the night before needs to be properly divided and cooled. Or food containers in the reach-in refrigerator need to be refilled. No one can say they forgot if you have a list which needs to be completed each night.