Food Safety Defined
Food Safety: Refers to the conditions and practices that preserve the quality of food and prevent foodborne illnesses.
It is management’s responsibility to ensure every associate understands and follows the practices necessary to keep food as safe as possible from the time it is received until purchased by the customer.
Causes of foodborne illness
Food that becomes contaminated can make people very ill. Contaminants fall into three hazard categories:
- Physical – bone fragments, toothpicks, fingernails, metal shavings
- Chemical – such as detergents and insecticides
- Biological – viruses (Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Rotavirus), parasites (Anisakis Simplex, Cryptosporidium parvum, Giardia duodenalis), and bacteria (Bacillus Cereus, Listeria, E-Coli – often the cause of hamburger recalls, Clostridium perfinges, Botulism – a concern of dented cans and Reduced Oxygen Packaging, Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus – infection of cuts and burns is a big concern, Vibrio vulnificus – septicemia)
People at high risk
Anyone can be affected by foodborne illness but these groups of people are particularly vulnerable:
- Young children
- Pregnant women
- People on medication
- The elderly
- People already sick
Critical factors that allow bacteria to grow – the acronym FAT TOM
The ideal conditions for bacteria to thrive and cause a foodborne illness involve six main requirements:
The Temperature Danger Zone
The FDA Food Code now describes the temperature Danger Zone as between 41˚F and 135˚F, though some local Health Departments still enforce the old between 40˚F and 140˚F. Bacteria grow rapidly when product is in the temperature Danger Zone. To keep food safe, cold foods must be kept at 41˚F or below, and hot foods must be kept at 135˚F or above.
Potentially Hazardous Foods (PHF)
Any food can become contaminated but some types are better able to support the growth of pathogens. These foods have a natural potential for contamination because of the way they are grown, produced or processed. These foods are commonly involved in foodborne illness outbreaks.
Some people are particularly sensitive to certain foods which are harmless to most people. Allergies can be very serious, even causing death. Food handlers must take care to prevent cross-contamination.
|Major Food Allergens||Symptoms|
Keeping Food Safe from Chemicals
- Store away from food and equipment
- Store in separate area, in original container
- Label smaller container with the COMMON name. Example: label “bleach” not “Clorox”
- Use only lubricants made for food equipment
When employees are ill
Associates must tell their supervisor if they have been diagnosed with a reportable illness and may not return to work until they have a doctor’s release. The reportable illnesses are:
- Hepatitis A
Associates may not work with symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, vomiting, jaundice or sore throat with a fever.
Associates may work with a cut or a burn as long as it is covered with a bandage and a glove is worn over the wound.
- Use handwashing sinks only.
- Use soap and clean water at least 100˚F.
- Rub hands together for at least 20 seconds.
- Clean under the nails and between the fingers.
- Rinse under clean running water.
- Dry hands with disposable paper towel or air dryer only – never cloth!
- Use disposable towel to turn off the water and open the door.
4 Approved Methods of Thawing
- Under refrigeration at 41˚F
- Under running water 70˚F or below
- During the cooking process
- In the microwave, if cooked immediately after
Bacteria grow more rapidly in temperatures between 70 ˚F and 125˚F. Food handlers must ensure they follow this 2 Stage Method when cooling foods in order to get food down to 70 ˚F quickly.
To cool properly:
Take food from 135 ˚F 70˚F within 2 hours
Then from 70 ˚F to 41˚F within 4 hours
Potentially hazardous foods are to be reheated to 165˚F, within 2 hours.
Cooking Requirements for Specific Types of Food
|Minimum Internal Temperature
||Type of Food|
for 15 seconds
for 15 seconds
for 15 seconds
Other Miscellaneous “Good to Know” items
- The only jewelry allowed in food prep areas is a plain wedding band.
- TCS is the acronym for Time/Temp Control for Safety.
- Shellfish must have a Shellfish Tag to be received and the tags must be kept at least 90 days.
- Racks for storing food, linen, and single-use items must be at least 6 inches off the floor.
- Prepared food, such as tuna salad, kept at 41˚F must be discarded after 7 days.
- Utensils used continuously for same function must be cleaned & sanitized at least every 4 hours.
- Food thermometers have a temperature range of 0˚F to 220˚F.
- Quats (Quaternary Ammonium sanitizer) requires 200 ppm.
- Hot water immersion may be used to sanitize if item is in water at least 171˚F for 30 seconds.
- High temperature dishwashers must reach 180˚F.
- A HACCP plan ensures food safety by identifying potential weaknesses and correcting problems.
- A Critical Control Point (CCP) is any step where you can intervene to prevent, control, or eliminate the growth of microorganisms.
- A vacuum breaker & an air gap are backflow devices that prevent unwanted reverse water flow.
- Well water must be tested at least annually.
- Tabletop equipment that cannot be moved for cleaning should have a minimum of 4 inch legs or sealed to the countertop.
- Storage areas require a minimum of 10 foot-candle bulbs.
- Food prep areas require a minimum of 50 foot-candle bulbs.
- Handwashing sinks must be within 25 ft. of food prep area.
- Integrated Pest Management IPM is a system that uses sanitation, chemical, and mechanical devices to prevent and control pest infestation.