Since the COVID-19 outbreak, restaurants across the United States have been trying to find ways to keep their doors open and their employees working. And while communities have come together to help their local food stops by ordering takeout or delivery, the future of small restaurants is up in the air. That being said, dealing with issues such as food poisoning from cross-contamination would be another major hit to the industry that’s already concerned about its long-term outlook. Regardless of what’s going on in the world, restaurants of all sizes need to make sure they’re approaching cross-contamination prevention in the most responsible way.
By making the effort to separate foods while storing and preparing them, sanitizing kitchen surfaces and equipment, and practicing proper personal hygiene, restaurants can create an environment that follows food safety guidelines and limits the potential for legal matters to occur.
What is Cross-Contamination?
Cross-contamination occurs when disease-causing microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, are transferred from one food to another food. This is one of the leading causes of foodborne illnesses and has led to major lawsuits in the past, such as a $25 million payout from Mexican fast-casual giant Chipotle.
While cooking food to safe temperatures will kill dangerous bacteria, most food contamination happens when the bacteria from a piece of raw food item comes in contact with food that doesn’t need to be cooked.
Personal Hygiene Program
Cross-contamination prevention starts with the implementation of an effective personal hygiene program. To limit the possibility of food handlers contaminating food, restaurants can institute a hygiene program that includes policies that focus on critical hand-washing practices and glove use. A program should also address staff cleanliness and work attire, focusing on bathing, clean clothing, hair restraints, and jewelry.
Using Separate Equipment
Each type of food should be prepared and handled with a separate equipment item. For instance, there should be a policy to use one set of cutting boards, containers, and utensils for raw chicken, another set for raw meat, and another for produce. Some restaurants use colored cutting boards and utensil handles to help keep equipment separated from each other.
Cross-contamination can be prevented by purchasing food that doesn’t require much prep time. This limits the time needed to handle food and can reduce the transfer of pathogens from one surface to another.
Lastly, cross-contamination can be reduced by cleaning and sanitizing all work surfaces thoroughly. With the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants are having to be more diligent about their cleaning practices. But even without a pandemic at hand, this should always be a daily focus. All work surfaces, utensils, and equipment should be cleaned and sanitized after each preparation task. Simply running equipment underwater won’t be enough to eliminate pathogens that can end up contaminating food.
About American Team Managers Insurance Services
Founded in 1998 by Chris C. Michaels, American Team Managers Insurance Services (ATM) has provided wholesale and MGA services to more than 5,000 independent insurance agents throughout the United States. Our goal is to establish close, long-term relationships with our agency partners and insurance carriers and provide competitive products for the Exclusive and Non-Exclusive markets that we serve. For more information on our products and services, give us a call at (877) 671-7503 to speak to a representative.