Wednesday, 12 October 2016
The cases for food-borne diseases outbreaks have been rising in the world. Each year, millions of people reportedly die of such outbreaks. However, Singapore enjoys lowest incidences of food-borne diseases despite that fact that most of its foods are imported. The stringent food safety standards have managed to put Singapore in this prestigious position. However, it is important to note that systems are not 100% fool-proof if there if food handlers do not observe the require food hygiene. The major food handlers in Singapore are restaurants. Therefore, as a restaurant owner or worker, there some basic food hygiene for restaurants you need to know.
Basic food hygiene for restaurants
Most of this basic food hygiene for restaurants require can be easily observed by anybody and do not require specialized training. These hygiene practices include;
#1. Careful selection of food
As the restaurant owner, you have to buy food from elsewhere so that will be processed and sold to customers. In this case, you should exercise a lot of caution when buying food since contaminated or expired foods may cause serious health problems to your customers. Therefore, you should only buy your food from reliable and reputable suppliers or establishments. Check the expiry date before buying ready-to-eat food. Moreover, you should avoid canned food that is bloated or badly dented. Ensure that the drinks or bottled milk are tightly sealed. Also, restaurants should buy fresh eggs as bacteria easily enter the cracked eggs.
#2. Proper handling of food
Most of the raw foods contain harmful micro-organisms that can cause food-borne diseases. Raw food should not be mixed with cooked food as juices from seafood or meat may contain micro-organisms, which can be transferred to cooked food. This phenomenon is known as cross-contamination and is the leading cause of food poisoning. In this case, you should avoid this by placing raw food in covered containers or wrapped plastic bags to prevent juices from dripping to other food. Also, you should place dry food above wet food to avoid juices to avoid cross contamination.
Moreover, improper handling of fruits and vegetables is one of the leading causes of food-borne diseases. Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly with clean water to remove dirt, chemical residues or bacteria. Fresh vegetables should be soaked in clean tap water for about 15 minutes before cutting and cooking. Moreover, you should avoid storing ripe fruits with vegetables since ripe fruit produce ethylene gas that causes yellowing of green leafy vegetables.
Dairy products require special attention. Avoid leaving dairy food in the room temperature. In this case, you should take what the customers need at return the rest to the refrigerator.
#3. Cook the food well
Thorough cooking kills all the harmful food bacteria that might be present in food. Meat products and seafood require more attention as they become more exposed to bacteria than any other food. Cooking of food should be done at higher temperatures- above 75 degree Celsius. A well-cooked meat should not have the pink color. Avoid partial cooking as this will increase the bacterial growth. Moreover, food such as soup, stews, and curries should be cooked to the boiling temperatures. Keeping hot food hot is another basic hygiene that should not be undermined. Food meant to be served hot should be kept at 60 degrees Celsius and above to inhibit bacterial growth. Furthermore, stored cooked food should be reheated at high temperatures to kill bacteria.
Proper use of microwave is another consideration for proper hygiene in restaurants. Ensure that the food is properly cooked when using the microwave. Improper cooking may cause bacteria to thrive and lead to food poisoning. Place the food in a covered dish when cooking in a microwave.
#4. Clean kitchen utensils
Microorganisms are found everywhere, even in the utensils used for cooking and serving food. Pests such as cockroaches, which carry harmful bacteria, love dirty kitchen utensils. In this case, you should wash all the utensils with soap and clean water. Moreover, cutting boards may carry bacteria, and you should wash them with hot water and soap. Moreover, plastic cutting boards and kitchen sponges should be sanitized with a chlorine solution. Dishcloths and tea towels can harbor bacteria if left in damp conditions. Using paper towels instead is advisable. Furthermore, it is advisable to clean the utensils as soon as possible as food residues may become difficult to remove.
#5. Proper personal hygiene
This is a crucial aspect that should be observed by food handlers. Thorough washing of hands should be done using warm soapy water before and after handling of food. Also, proper hand-washing should be done after handling of raw foods such as poultry, seafood, and meat before handling ready-to-eat or cooked food. Washing your hands with soap and water after using the toilet is a basic hygiene that you should not undermine. This is done to avoid fecal bacteria that can lead to dangerous diseases.
Moreover, it is a mandatory requirement in Singapore for restaurant workers to obtain a health certificate and undergo periodic health check-ups. This is an important hygienic measure in assuring the safety of food in the restaurants. Therefore, you should ensure that your workers have required certifications from the health authorities.
#6. Effective pest control
Pest control is another important hygiene practice that should be undertaken by all restaurants. If customers encounter rodents, cockroaches or insects in the restaurant, they will stop eating from your restaurant. Moreover, pests can pose health risks as they contaminate raw, cooked, or served foods as well as the utensils. In such cases, your restaurant will suffer from a bad reputation and the government may cancel the operating license of such establishment. Pests do not just contaminate the food, but bed bugs may bite guests, which can shy away customers from the restaurant.
In this case, you should hire licensed pest control services to carry our pest management in your restaurant. A reputable company will eliminate existing pests as well as preventing further infestation. The professional pest control services will provide a comprehensible pest control plan. They will use all possible means such as using baits, traps, fumigation, and use of insecticides to eliminate pests and rodents in the restaurant.
Good hygienic practices are mandatory for all restaurants in Singapore. It does not only protect your customers from harmful health effects but also protects your workers. Moreover, good hygiene promotes the reputation of your restaurant and avoid revoking of license by the government.