Every September, the foodservice industry celebrates National Food Safety Month. Everyone knows there's no easier way to lose customer loyalty than being the culprit of a patron's food borne illness. Because restaurant kitchens breed team environments, it's important for everyone, from the executive chef to the dishwashers and porters, to be educated on proper food safety. Doing so not only keeps the restaurant up to code but also maintains a high quality standard for the business, not to mention a strong reputation. In honor of National Food Safety Month, we will be posting a series of educational blog posts pertaining to all aspects of food safety, from receiving food to storing it, serving it, and the many steps in between.
Food safety education isn't just for professional chefs either. In fact, everyone can benefit from food safety knowledge because we all eat and handle food, therefore we're all at risk for the same illnesses and repercussions. Some of the upcoming blogs will feature helpful information for both residential and commercial cooks, while others will pertain more to the professional industry. This year's Food Safety Awareness theme is "Let it Flow," which focuses on the flow of food in restaurants. Knowing some basic rules will definitely help kick start your food safety practice. This blog begins with "Receiving" food. Here are a few tips.
What Temperature Should Food Be Received At?
This question is dependent on the kinds of food you're receiving, though most potentially hazardous foods should be received at 41ºF or lower. Below are a few exceptions.
- Live Shellfish, Shucked Shellfish, and Milk: Should be received at an air temperature of 45ºF or lower then cooled to 41ºF or lower within 4 hours.
- Eggs: Should be received at an air temperature of 45ºF or lower.
- Frozen Food: Should be frozen solid when received.
Why Does Food Need To Be Received at these temperatures?
Three words: "The Danger Zone." These three words probably ring a bell, and rightfully so! The Danger Zone is the temperature bracket (41ºF to 135ºF) where bacteria grows most quickly on food. Leaving food out in these temperatures can cause bacteria to double in as little as twenty minutes. Therefore, there is urgency in making sure food is at the proper temperature when it's received and then promptly stored.
What Should Be Done Upon Delivery?
When food arrives at the establishment, there is a checklist to be aware of. When food is in transit there is an increased opportunity for items to shuffle around and for cross contamination to occur. Knowing this, it's important that whoever is receiving the shipment inspects it thoroughly. Here are the common questions to ask and the things to look for when receiving a shipment. Should any of these not adhere, you have the right to refuse the delivery.
- Are the food containers in good condition? Check for any damage as they can often crush or tear in transit, thereby leaking and potentially cross contaminating.
- Are the temperatures where they should be? It's important to check them with a sanitized thermometer before signing for the delivery. These pocket thermometers do the trick.
- If you're receiving canned goods, make sure they're not swollen anywhere as this may be a sign of product spoiling or damage.
- Mark the delivery date on food products before storing away.
- Are the delivery vehicles in good, clean condition?
- Are frozen foods completely frozen? Make sure there is no thawing occuring upon delivery.
- Lastly, does the supplier deliver product on a timely schedule? It's important that food is stored away quickly after it's received to keep food held at the right storage temperature. Hold your suppliers accountable to the scheduled delivery time.
These are some of the most important tips for receiving food product.