Module 22: Safe Food Handling in Food Service Operations

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Food Handling Process

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Food Handling Process

Proper food handling is a matter of developing a proper attitude, if staff understand the need to be careful with food and know basic sanitation principles, many of the specific rules become a matter of common sense.

Proper food handling is simply making it clear to staff that sanitation is a priority when:

Purchasing Food
Receiving Food
Preparing Food
Serving Foods

Restaurant personnel should only purchase food that is wholesome and suitable to eat.

Food should be obtained from commercial sources that comply with all applicable local, regional, and national sanitation laws.

Obtain food and food ingredients from approved and reliable sources, for example:

Local foods manufactured by licensed food premises
Order proper amounts of raw materials to reduce the problems of large storage
Meat should be purchased from reputable suppliers/importers
Buy seafood that is fresh and free from abnormal odours
Confirm that all suppliers have obtained relevant and valid licenses, certificates and documentation

All incoming foods should be checked to make sure they meet quality standards stated in the operation's purchase specifications.

Employees who receive all incoming foods for the operation should check the quality and safety of incoming food and supplies, including the expiry dates, condition of the packaging and the food, temperature of frozen products.

The following are examples of sanitation guidelines for receiving:

Product Inspection

Expiry dates: use by, best before. Never use expired raw materials in food preparation

Packaging: intact and has no damage. No dents, bulges or rust on canned food.

Condition: no foreign objects or sign of spoilage

Temperature: for potentially hazardous food, they should be kept at a temperature of 4 C or below or 60 C or above; for potentially hazardous food intended to be received frozen, they should be in frozen state when they are accepted.

Product Identification

A food business should ensure that all food on the food premises are clearly and properly identified and, upon request by an inspecting officer, can provide information relating to the names and business addresses of the vendors, suppliers, manufacturers, packers, or importers.

Records showing the dates, descriptions, quantities and sources/destination of supply should be kept for specific foods for at least 60 days and be readily available for inspection on demand.

Food should be stored as soon as possible after receiving.

Keep stored food away from walls and dripping pipes and off the floor.

Place food on slotted shelves that are at least two inches away from the wall and six inches off the floor. To avoid stock spoilage, stick to the inventory rotation policy of first-in-first-out (FIFO), for food storage. In other words, products that are in storage the longest should be used first.

Inventory Rotation

Check the expiry date on the package
Check the food with shorter durability in the refrigerators every day
Use movable storage racks for moving in and out more easily
Properly label various food, e.g. marking the receiving date and expiry date

Use By =
Perishable food, e.g. bread and milk

Best Before =
Long-preserved food, e.g. canned food

Store frozen foods in their original containers because these containers are usually moisture and vapor proof.

Date all merchandise upon receipt and rotate inventory on a first-in-first out basis.

Check refrigerator thermometers regularly.
Recommended storage temperatures are as follows:

Produce 7° C or below
Dairy and Meat 4° C or below
Seafood -1° C or below

Food Storage Practices

All cooked food or other products kept in clean, sanitized, covered containers

Do not store packaged food in contact with water or un-drained ice

Allow circulation of cool air to all surfaces of stored goods

Do not store food directly on the floor

Date all merchandise upon receipt, and rotate inventory

Store dairy products away from strong-odor foods

Store fish separately from other food products

Basic sanitation procedures should always be followed when working with and around food. Keep hands clean during food preparation and use disposable gloves if practical.

Be sure to clean food preparation tools and other equipment properly and sanitize contact surfaces between every food-processing task. Access to the food preparation area should be restricted, as much as possible, to food handlers only. For management and maintenance staff, all practicable measures should be taken to ensure that they will not contaminate food if visiting food preparation areas.

Equipment and Utensils

Use a color-code system to distinguish the equipment and utensils used for handling cooked food and raw food

Use clean and disinfected equipment and utensils

Clean and sanitized utensils should be used

Label the use of utensils as appropriate

Food Preparation Procedures

Prepare perishable foods as close to serving time as possible.

Wash the tops of cans before opening them.

Wash all raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly
before preparation or serving

Never leave food out overnight to thaw

Do not refreeze thawed products

Thawing Procedures

Food should be thawed at a temperature that will prevent the rapid growth of bacteria

Place the food in a refrigerator or thawing cabinet maintained at 8C or below

Place the food in cold running potable water

Never thaw food at room temperature

Unless thawed food is processed immediately,
it should be held at 8C or below until used

When cooking raw food (e.g. poultry, pork, minced meat), the centre of the food should reach a temperature of at least 75C for 15 seconds, or an effective time/temperature combination (65C for 10 minutes, 70C for 2 minutes).

Cook the food for long enough to reach a temperature sufficient to kill bacteria, and to ensure the food is thoroughly cooked.

Food must be fully cooked, especially meat and seafood.

Potentially hazardous food that has been prepared, cooked, and is to be served hot, should be held at a temperature of at least 60C.

Microwave Cooking

Rotate or stir food midway during cooking for even
distribution of heat

Food should be heated to a temperature 75C for
15 seconds in all parts

Allow food to stand covered for a minimum of 2 minutes after cooking to obtain temperature equilibrium

Cooling After Cooking

One of the leading causes of food-borne illness is improperly cooled food.

Cooked foods that are to be stored need to be cooled to below 4C as quickly as possible.
Food that has been cooked, and is intended to be kept in refrigerated storage before serving, should be cooled:

Firstly from 60C to 20C within 2 hours or less

Then from 20C to 4C within 4 hours or less

Cooling Food

Reduce the volume of the food by dividing it into smaller portions

Place food in shallow containers with higher heat conductivity

Cut large joints of meat and poultry into smaller chunks

Ensure there is space around food containers so that the cold air in the refrigerator or cool room can circulate freely

Place food in a container with cold water or ice

Buffet Food Safety

Ensure the display of the food is effectively monitored by employees trained in safe operation procedures. Keep the raw food and cooked food separate and provide separate suitable utensils.

Other buffet food safety factors include:

Utensils should be regularly replaced and kept clean

Provide display cases with covers/food guards to prevent food contamination

Avoid mixing old food with fresh food batches as far as possible

From the moment food is delivered to the minute it is served to the customer, food safety should be a priority.

Hospitality businesses should be aware that they are required by law to ensure that staff who handle food receive appropriate food safety, hygiene and awareness training that is in line with their work activity.

Food handlers serving food to customers should observe these six basic hygiene practices:

Wash hands properly and frequently
Keep hot food at 60C or above and cold food at 4C or below
Keep fingers away from the rims of cups, glasses, plates and dishes
Hold cutlery (i.e. knives, forks and spoons) by the handles
Do not wipe utensils with aprons, soiled cloths, unclean towels, or hands
Minimize contact with ready-to-eat food

Food that has been found or suspected to be unsafe or unsuitable for consumption should be rejected.

It should be identified (e.g. marked, labelled, kept in a separated container or isolated area), kept separately and disposed of as quickly as possible.

Which kind of food is usually labeled with best before dates?

Fresh orange juice
Canned soft drinks

Which of the following is a correct practice of food handling?

Use colour codes to distinguish utensils
Put hot food directly into refrigerator
Repeat thawing and freezing procedures

In which situation that cross-contamination may occur?

Handle raw food and cooked food with different chopping boards.
Store raw meat under cooked meat
Not following proper hand washing procedures
Putting cooked food into clean disinfected containers

Which of the following is an appropriate thawing method?

Thawing in a refrigerator of 10 °C
Microwave oven thawing
Thawing in a bucket of still water
Thawing at room temperature