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The 5 Most Overlooked Food Safety Risks

April 17, 2024
The 5 Most Overlooked Food Safety Risks
Food Safety Environment Category Blog

Anyone who says “details don’t matter” obviously has never taken a standardized test. Or been involved in the design of complex machinery. Or worked in an environment where food handling contributes to the safety of guests.

Food safety is paramount, which is why details matter. But food safety is more than just washing your hands. Here are five food safety risks you don’t want to overlook.

1. Improper Temperature Fluctuations

Most food handlers are aware that there are certain temperatures that must be reached to cook food safely. Refrigeration temps are also common knowledge. Fluctuations in temperature, however, are where many tend to overlook safety. Bacteria grow faster when temperatures fluctuate, meaning it’s crucial to monitor temperatures regularly and avoid frequent changes. Leaving food at room temperature for an extended period is one of the most common examples of this, so you must quickly cool down or warm any dishes that have a waiting period.

2. Equipment and Surface Cross-Contamination

You might already know to separate raw and cooked ingredients, as well as meats and vegetables, but are you as diligent when it comes to equipment and surfaces? These must be thoroughly cleaned each time they’re used—and thoroughly sanitized at the end of the day. These areas can contain bacteria hidden to the eye, leading to unwanted cross-contamination.

3. Inadequate Hand Washing

We’ve all been given so much instruction on proper handwashing techniques the past several years that we might gloss over it and do an inadequate job sometimes. But this remains one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of foodborne illness. Best practices are to wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, using the restroom or touching raw meat or chemicals. Don’t slack with technique or frequency. 

4. Poor RTE Food Storage and Handling

Just because food is cooked or ready to eat (RTE) doesn’t mean it can’t be a food safety issue. Store these foods away from raw ingredients and store at proper temperatures, keeping them covered and serving them using clean utensils. Always be aware of expiration dates and discard any RTE foods that show signs of spoilage.

5. Food Allergen Considerations

You read about allergen-related incidents in restaurants nearly every day. This is usually because there was a miscommunication or a slack in standards about the food allergen. Always communicate clearly with the kitchen and customer, being confident in any potential allergen situations. Avoid cross-contamination for the identified allergens, using separate equipment, prep areas and labels to mitigate risks.

These are just a few commonly overlooked food safety risks. To ensure you have the proper food safety knowledge needed to provide a safe dining experience, sign up for a food handler course with American Course Academy today.

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