However, there is a simple solution: zone isolation. Zone isolation enables restaurant employees to stop the spread of contaminants, such as bacteria and viruses, at the source. Contaminants can be isolated by establishing zones within a restaurant building and only using designated equipment and cleaning supplies in each area.
Zone isolation prevents the spread of viruses and bacteria from one area to another, dramatically reducing the spread of contamination. “Color-coded mops, brooms, buckets and other equipment aid in the prevention of contamination and in the management of sanitary conditions and zone isolation,” Bradley says. “These types of products are mandatory in the fight to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.” »
Zones can easily be created based on a food service operation’s visible boundaries, such as walls and doors that separate the kitchen, restrooms, dining area and entryways. Each zone should be assigned a color and have its own corresponding color-coded mops, brooms, dust pans etc. for easy use by employees. This simple process can help prevent the spread of dangerous contaminants within a restaurant.
The National Restaurant Association Education Foundation reports time-temperature abuse as the most commonly reported cause of foodborne illnesses. It is crucial for foodservice employees to control both time and temperature at every stage in the kitchen, from receiving to customer service.
The temperature danger zone for food is between 41 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If left within this temperature zone for more than four hours at any part of the process, foods will be susceptible to the bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. Time and temperature must be monitored throughout the food service process to ensure the foods they serve are safe.
Temperature is especially crucial during the food preparation process. If foods are served undercooked, the results could become life-threatening. The internal temperatures of all products should be checked with a thermometer before being served.
Poultry should register an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds; ground beef at 155 degrees for 15 seconds; pork at 145 degrees for 15 seconds; beef roasts at 145 degrees for 3 minutes; beef steaks, pork, veal, lamb, fish and game animals at 145 degrees for 15 seconds.
In the 2002 study by the Purdue University Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management and the Arthur Avery Foodservice Research Laboratory, less than half of the respondents followed the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) recommendation of checking the temperature of hot food every two hours during holding.
Various products are available to make temperature checks quick and easy. “Thermometers range in styles, sizes and functions,” said Bradley. “For example, the thermocouple thermometer gives accurate readings and offers a wide variety of temperature probes to best suit your cooking needs.”
Another major danger zone that food encounters is the storage zone. The first challenge is making sure that all food is properly stored in the right storage facility at the proper temperature. Maintaining safe temperatures in refrigerated storage serves to prevent food from spoiling and dangerous bacteria from spreading. Overloading the refrigerator should be avoided, as it weakens airflow. Temperature can be properly monitored by placing thermometers in both the front and back of the refrigerator.
Moisture and heat pose a threat to the safety of dry and canned goods making proper temperature maintenance in dry storage equally important. Storerooms should be cool, dry, well ventilated and away from direct sunlight. For the safest results, shelving in dry storage should be at least six inches off the floor and six inches from the walls.
Products such as specific labels are available to help maintain proper temperatures for food, as they monitor temperature exposure over time.