Health code violations can result in expensive fines and temporary or permanent business shut down. It’s critical that owners and managers of restaurants and do everything they can to maintain the highest safety standards. Most violations involve owners and employees failing to follow safety practices when handling, prepping and storing foods and building maintenance. You can decrease the potential for violations in your restaurant. You simply need to recognise the most common problems and create prevention strategies and policies. Consider the following 10 most common restaurant failures:
Kitchen Space Misuse
Managers place sinks for washing near food preparation areas so that employees can move around kitchen during rush hour. Water that splashes out of these sinks often contaminates food prep surfaces with bacteria and chemicals. Some restaurant decision-makers also place chemical storage near food storage or prep spots. Use the sinks near food prep areas for cleaning ingredients, and store all general cleaning supplies in a storage area.
Bad Employee Habits
Workers often forget to wear gloves while dealing with a contagious illnesses. If they wear gloves, they often fail to remember to put on new ones between tasks. They also fail to thoroughly clean up after using a restroom or by scrubbing their hands, under their nails and their arms. You can correct this problem by keeping boxes of gloves in food prep areas and hanging hygiene poster reminders.
Inadequate Food Preparation
A wide range of microorganisms thrive on raw foods. Employees who handle fresh uncooked vegetables after touching raw meat can cause customers to ingest harmful parasites and bacteria. Also, children and adults can experience allergic reactions and sensitivities because of cross-contamination. Peanut or wheat contamination, for example, can cause anaphylaxis in people with those respective allergies. Employees should always clean raw foods before using them in meals to remove any preexisting dangerous microorganisms. They should also use separately dedicated cutting boards and sanitise workspaces between tasks.
Contaminated Cutlery Usage
Failing to clean cutlery thoroughly causes problems far beyond the food preparation stage. Many cooks use the same knives or other cutting tools repeatedly all day without washing them at all or enough. Some restaurant workers merely rinse blades off under cool or hot running water or wipe them on a towel set aside for this purpose. These habits can spread harmful microorganisms and food particles that can cause various illnesses or allergic reactions to clean ingredients, cutting surfaces, hands, and clothing. Running water alone is a poor substitution for disinfectant soap designed to kill bacteria, and blades can have serrated edges and microscopic dents and scratches where food and other particles build up over time. It’s critical that restaurant employees always use separate tools to cut different ingredients, and then scrub cutlery blades thoroughly after every use with a non-scratch scrubbing pad and extremely hot soap and water.
Incorrect Cooking Practices
A lot of professional cooks incorrectly believe that they can just feel when a meal is ready or tell by taste alone. Instinct and experience work hand-in-hand to create the perfect dish. A cook who uses their taste buds without using a food thermometer can create undercooked meals that make people sick. Some professional cooks also use thermometers incorrectly. They either fail to transfer meat away from the heat and then test the internal temp or they fail to check in different spots to guarantee that the entire piece has cooked completely at the correct temperature. Multiple readings are the best way to confirm temperature, especially with a piece of meat that has more fat in one spot than another or contains bones.
Poor Food Storage
Thermometers are also critical when preserving ingredients, leftovers and pre-made meals in refrigeration and freezer units. Use thermometers to monitor and confirm steady temperatures. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, refrigerated food must be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Frozen food must be at 0 degrees or less. Before storing hot-to-cold food, a countertop cooling off period is permitted, but it shouldn’t last longer than two hours. If the kitchen reaches temps of 90 degrees or above, the food should only sit out for one hour. Employees also often fail to label every stored ingredient and meal with the date cooked and estimated disposal date. Additionally, some restaurant workers place processed foods like flour and canned goods too close to heat sources. The heat can cause the food to lose its nutritional value, become rancid or attract insects.
Inadequate Equipment Safety
Restaurant owners and managers also need to make certain that the commercial equipment used in their kitchens can’t cause harm. Far too many decision-makers fail to purchase equipment specifically approved for restaurants and food safety, as indicated by an NSF certification label, even though a lot of equipment and accessories sold in the market continue to be made with materials that contain high levels of lead and other dangerous toxic substances that can leach into food. Some owners and managers who have the right equipment fail to make certain that employees are preventing illness by cleaning all tools thoroughly on a regular basis. Employees then give customers ice or soda from machines that contain mold, reheat ingredients or meals in dirty microwaves or wipe down areas with non-sanitized dishrags and sponges.
Dirty Dining Spots
Although most restaurants have immaculate-looking dining areas, many eateries are unsafe because employees fail to sanitise tables, chairs, booths, counters and other dining spots well enough. Customers with sensitivities to bleach can also suffer skin reactions and even breathing difficulties if a dining spot hasn’t been completely rinsed. Employees in buffet-, sushi- or grill-style restaurants sometimes fail to wipe utensil handles every half hour to prevent guests from spreading illnesses from their hands to others. Cooks might use the same utensils all day long. Most cooks rinse between uses, but that’s not always enough, especially if the rinse water isn’t changed after each use.
Horrible Pest Control
Failure to remove pests that carry disease-ridden insects or microorganisms in their blood and feces like mice, rats, bed bugs and cockroaches is one of the top reasons that inspectors close restaurants. The best way to handle this type of scenario is to invest in the services of a professional pest control specialist who can check for violations, remove the pests and provide advice on how to permanently deter them. If local infestations make regular pest removal too costly, move to a new location.
Major Structural Problems
Food contamination and the spread of disease aren’t the only health hazards that can pop up in an eatery. A leaking roof can cause the growth of various types of mold. Poor lighting can make it difficult for restaurant staff to visually see spoilage spots on food. Inadequate light and loose floor rugs can also result in diners having trip and fall accidents.
Why Dedicated Employees Matter
None of these tips are useful unless you can trust your employees to follow related health and safety practices. Some people don’t care about their hygiene. Many workers see their jobs as just a means to a pay-check and don’t care about following every rule. Many hiring managers discover too late that some job seekers fail to disclose that they have a serious infectious disease. It’s important to look for for anything that might indicate that a potential employee won’t follow the rules, such as they have unclean hands, wear unkempt clothes or smoke cigarettes. Also, pose health and safety questions during the interview to determine if they already know and care about common restaurant health failures.
An inspector can stop by your business at any time. You should never rely on this minimum inspection requirement as a guarantee that you’ll have time to fix things. Correct any common problems found at your eating establishment and then perform your own surprise spot checks for violations throughout the year to protect your business.
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