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Sanitation in Food

Biological includes microorganisms; chemical includes cleaning solvents and pest control; and physical means hair, dirt, or other matter. In our research, we've come up with five frequently mentioned sanitation tips to prevent foodborne illnesses in food service and retail businesses.

There are three main types of hazards or contaminants that can cause unsafe food: Biological, chemical, and physical. Biological includes microorganisms; chemical includes cleaning solvents and pest control; and physical means hair, dirt, or other matter.

Now here are some proper food sanitation practices that we need to follow in order to prevent foodborne illnesses in foodservice.

  • Proper personal hygiene, including frequent hand and arm washing and covering cuts;
  • Proper cleaning and sanitizing of all food contact surfaces and utensils;
  • Proper cleaning and sanitizing of food equipment;
  • Good basic housekeeping and maintenance; and
  • Food storage for the proper time and at safe temperatures.        

Proper employee education and training, as well as monitoring and recordkeeping by the management of clean and sanitation tasks, also are important.

Here we go to the Food Safety Guidelines:

1. Wash Hands Often For optimal food safety, it is fundamental that all employees wash hands before preparing and handling food and when shifting between tasks. Wash thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.

2. Sanitize Surfaces Sanitizing and cleaning all surfaces, including prep areas, cutting boards, equipment, storage areas, trash cans, and floor drains, should be an important part of your food safety regimen. This process removes food residue, dirt, and invisible germs from surfaces that may come in contact with food. You must clean and sanitize surfaces regularly to prevent pests from inhabiting them. Pests can spread harmful diseases, such as Salmonella and Listeria, to the food in your kitchen.

3. Wash Fruits and Vegetables All fruit and vegetables must be thoroughly washed to rid of any bacteria and dirt that may be on your produce. The only exception is produce that is pre-packaged and labeled as pre-washed. Use clean, cold water, and opt for a vegetable brush when necessary. For more tips, see our guide to correctly wash your produce.

4. Avoid Cross Contamination Cross-contamination occurs when harmful bacteria, allergens, or other microorganisms transfer from one object to another unintentionally. Though often invisible to the human eye, the results of this process can be extremely dangerous or deadly to unsuspecting consumers. Aside from hand-washing, it's also necessary to use separate products when dealing with different types of food products. Use different cutting boards and separate receptacles for raw meats, vegetables, and produce, and cooked foods. You can opt for a color-coded system to help your staff keep track. Using the proper procedures to avoid cross contamination will also help you avoid allergic reactions.

5. Prepare and Store Foods at Safe Temperatures Make sure to prepare raw meat, ground meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood at the correct temperature to avoid food poisoning. See our comprehensive guide for in-depth information on food safety temperatures for every type of food product.

6. Pay Attention to Food Recalls To prevent a foodborne illness outbreak, always be aware of any food recalls related to your food inventory. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) frequently publish lists with recalls, so it is important to regularly check these alerts.

How to Practice Food Safety in Self-Service Areas:     

While employees of your restaurant or buffet may have adequate food safety knowledge, it’s safe to assume your patrons will not. Because of this, self-service areas are especially susceptible to contamination.

  • Frequently clean and sanitize surfaces including serving utensils, food storage containers, sneeze guards, and countertops.
  • Provide flatware, napkin, and straw dispensers designed to dispense single-use items.
  • For added sanitation, provide packets of wrapped flatware to reduce the chance of contamination.
  • Assign employees to monitor guests and take corrective action in the event that unsafe practices have occurred.                                                                                   

Six Common Food Sanitation Mistakes–and How to Fix Them

All food establishments, whether U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulated, are required to maintain sanitary conditions to ensure the safe production of food. Even though poor sanitation can cause harmful contamination of food and, in some cases, result in foodborne illness or even the loss of a life, some establishments fail to take sanitation seriously.

“We’ve all heard the saying that ‘the little things can cause the biggest problems,’” says Chris Celesta, Manager, Food Processing Sanitation with Spartan Chemical Co., Inc. of Maumee, OH, a recognized international leader in the manufacture of chemical specialty and industrial maintenance products since 1956.

That theory applies to sanitation within the food plants. Simple mistakes can have costly consequences, but the reality is, if a plant takes the time to address sanitation needs upfront, most common mistakes are easy to fix.

Proactive Ways to Avoid Sanitation Mistakes
Celesta and his team of experts at Spartan, compiled this list of the areas in a sanitation program where the top six most common mistakes occur—and how to fix them.

1. Personal hygiene. How often do you explain when, where and how to wash your hands to your employees? Do you emphasize the importance of taking showers, checking for cuts, wearing clean clothes, pulling back long hair and removing jewelry? Many people do not realize that the cracks in their hands and fingernails can be excellent carriers for those bad bugs. As simple as we might think it is to have people regularly and consistently wash their hands, it is equally important that we provide friendly reminders.

2. Sanitation product labeling. As much as processors try to “color code” their programs, cleaners and/or sanitizers will differ by the manufacturer. The important point to remember is that containers of mixed product used throughout the plant need to identify the product by name, along with any hazardous warning, so it can be traced back to your MSDS sheets. It is interesting to note, however, that many manufacturers not only include this information but also include the name, address, telephone number and website of the particular manufacturer so the facility has better access to specific information.

3. Personal protective equipment (PPE). It’s interesting to note how facilities will conduct annual training on PPE, says Celesta, but at some point in the year trainees neglect to use gloves or goggles when working with food sanitation products. When you are lax about PPEs, you put employees’ safety at risk and you take the chance of seriously affecting workers’ compensation costs. Employees may be taking unnecessary risks based on their experience with home products or because they have incomplete information about potential hazards associated with improper use of sanitation chemicals. It is up to supervisors to ensure that employees are properly informed and demand that PPEs are used all the time.

4. Sanitation chemical selection. Is your product hard water tolerant? Can your product be used on soft metals? Does your product exhibit grease-cutting or grease-emulsifying abilities? Is your manufacturer providing you the features and benefits you are looking for so you can use the right product at the right dilution to clean the right type of soils? Do your research before you select a chemical and work with your vendor to be sure you make the best choice and are using it under the right circumstances to maximize cost and efficiency and to minimize equipment erosion.

5. Proportioners or dispensing systems. If you turn your sanitation program over to people other than your supervisors, you are inviting trouble. The manufacturer recommends particular dilutions for the right reasons–ease of cleaning, soil removal, rinsing and managing your budget. However, in food processing plants, there are always a few “chemists” who like to turbo-charge their products, by mixing bleach with an alkaline-based product or creating their own formula, which, as we all know, can have disastrous consequences. Proportioners provide consistent use, consistent performance and allow you to work from your fixed budget.

6. Employee training. Training should focus on the fundamentals of sanitation, food microbiology and the role of employees in maintaining food safety of food products. Training must be continuous to provide clear and accurate information so the “human” element functions as well as your cleaning solutions and equipment do. Work with your vendor to find the best training programs on PPE, HAZCOM, proper sanitation chemical handling and effective cleaning procedures. A good training program frees up productivity so your people can be most effective doing their job in the limited time that is available.

Says Celesta, “Avoiding these common sanitation mistakes in the food processing facility means making the right choice in terms of supplier, chemicals, human resources and equipment. But overall, food companies that are committed to putting forth the best possible sanitation program at each and every step of the process will be the most successful at ensuring the safety and quality of their finished products.”


County health inspectors logged steep climbs in forced restaurant closures and major food safety violations last year, raising new concerns about Orange County’s shrunken oversight of restaurants and other food vendors.
According to county data obtained by the Register under public records laws, the number of businesses that were forced to temporarily close due to major health violations spiked by 38 percent from the previous year, to 722. Most businesses were small or medium-sized restaurants.
Despite a similar number of overall inspections last year, the amount of major violations found at all food facilities in the county grew by 11 percent, to 14,800. Unsafe storage temperatures, poor washing and pests drove much of the increase.
Inspectors issued 779 major violations for cockroaches, 189 for rodents and nine for other infestations in critical areas – 58 percent more than the previous year and nearly double the total in 2012. Major violations are conditions that pose an immediate danger to public health.The rise in restaurant closures and violations comes after years of declining oversight by Orange County health officials. The county once inspected restaurants and other food facilities four times a year – in sync with FDA recommendations. Today, most restaurants are inspected half as often.
County inspectors last year were responsible for monitoring food sanitation practices at 15,000 businesses, including restaurants, supermarkets, catering services and taverns. Inspection reports are searchable on the county’s website by name. Recent permit suspensions are listed as well. Inspectors closed 105 establishments in the past two months, mostly for cockroach and other pest infestations, according to online data. About half were allowed to re-open on the same day of their permit suspension. Poor hygiene causes restaurants to lose business, poll shows One in four Britons have left a restaurant during a meal amid a poor dining experience, according to a new survey. The poll of 2,000 diners found 23 per cent had had such an unpleasant time that they left without even finishing their food. Slow service and rude staff are among the aspects of a dining experience most likely to annoy diners, along with sticky floors, noisy clientele and grubby toilets.
“There are few things which put us off our food faster than dirt, stains and bad smells in a place where we are trying to eat," said Greg Elmore, spokesman for P&G Professional which commissioned the study. “A professional level of hygiene and cleanliness should be at the forefront of the minds of every restaurant owner and member of restaurant staff in the country though, based on these results, we feel this is unlikely to be the case.”
Jasmine Birtles, economics expert and business commentator, added: "The latest interest rate rise and increasing economic uncertainty mean we're all having to tighten our belts. 'Businesses have to work harder to prove they deserve guests' money than ever before. But it’s not always what's on the menu that sways us. Cleanliness and hygiene can make all the difference.“Ensuring every area of an establishment, especially the washroom, is spotless helps build customer confidence and establish relationships meaning that guests are more likely to return. 'Investment in cleaning is an investment in business growth."When asked to name the things most likely to make them think a restaurant might not be as nice as they had hoped, 56 per cent of respondents said: "A bad odour".But when a lacklustre dining experience does occur, only 12 per cent said they would take up the issue with the manager, while three in 10 would report their distaste to a member of staff. One in eight tell their friends and family in about grubby eateries they come into contact with. Word of mouth is important, as 56 per cent of those surveyed said they decided where they want to eat based on recommendations from people they know.It also emerged 29 per cent of Brits have even been so incensed by unhygienic practices in a restaurant they have posted a negative review online to warn others. Of those who have written a negative review, one in 10 took issue with unhygienic toilet facilities, and 14 per cent couldn’t abide the grime on their crockery and cutlery. In fact, cleanliness is vital to the dining experience, as nine in 10 Brits believe good hygiene standards are an indicator of a reputable restaurant.85 per cent also consider the cleanliness of an eatery just as important as the taste and quality of the food they prepare.More than a third would even be willing to pay more to eat at a restaurant with exemplary hygiene standards.
Almost two thirds said just one unclean area in a restaurant was enough to make them suspicious of the hygiene standards elsewhere on the premises.Official hygiene ratings are also important to diners, with 44 per cent regularly noticing the hygiene star-rating in the window of a restaurant before they head in to eat.

Again, Keep your restaurant's reputation intact and reduce the spread of foodborne illnesses by practicing good food safety habits. Implementing programs that ensure employees both prevent and react appropriately to food safety issues should be an important part of your food service establishment. 



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