How To Prevent Foodborne Illnesses
There are more than 48 million illnesses resulting from foodborne causes each year, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That means there are likely close to that many instances of someone not following proper precautions when it comes to preventing foodborne illnesses.
So, how do we reduce these numbers? By each of us doing our part when it comes to improving food safety knowledge, starting with foodservice professionals. Let’s go over some common ways to prevent foodborne illnesses.
Cook Food to Temperature
Not cooking food to proper temperature is a good way for foodborne bacteria to stay alive and wreak havoc upon ingestion. The general rules of thumb to follow are to cook poultry to 165°F, ground meats to 155°F and fish to 145°F. Your establishment should have food thermometers on hand to double-check these temperatures, as even the best chef can be off the mark when making assumptions about temps.
Hold Food at Proper Temp
In addition to cooking food at proper temperature, you want to keep hot foods hot and cold food colds. Hot foods must be kept at a temperature of 140°F or higher while cold foods must be kept at a temperature of 40°F or lower. This is why many restaurants have warmers for food that is cooked and waiting to be picked up, while cold foods are typically stored in the refrigerator.
Avoid Cross Contamination
Raw and cooked ingredients must be separated throughout the food handling process. Store raw and cooked ingredients separately, using different equipment and cleaning areas and waiting to combine them until the dish is being cooked.
Clean and Sanitize Equipment
Take all the right steps to clean tools, equipment, utensils and rags that have been exposed to food and potential bacteria. Clean all of these regularly, preferably each time they are used. Also use soap, water and sanitizing spray and ask an established team member or manager about safety protocols to follow, if you haven’t already been trained.
Maintain Personal Hygiene
Finally, two of the biggest ways to prevent foodborne illnesses are to wash your hands regularly and avoid working while sick. Your employer likely has a sick policy and wouldn’t want you exposing food and co-workers to disease. Washing hands is also one of the most effective ways to prevent foodborne illnesses, so be sure to wash thoroughly and often while on the job.
These are just a few ways to prevent foodborne illnesses. If we can all adopt better food safety and food handling techniques, we’ll all be better off for it. To learn more, consider signing up for our food handlers course today.