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Loss Control & Risk Management

Top Food Safety Tips

The restaurant business is an exciting field! But when it comes to preparing food, there are a lot of hygiene and safety related factors to consider. Use this list of FDA approved food safety tips and protect your customers (and your business) from the negative effects of food-borne illnesses.


Encourage your employees to wash hands and surfaces often. Bacteria can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, countertops and food. To ensure that your hands and surfaces are clean, be sure to:

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets.
  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.
  • Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten.
  • Rub firm-skin fruits and vegetables under running tap water, and scrub them with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water.
  • With canned goods, remember to clean lids before opening.


Separate raw meats from other foods. Cross contamination can occur when bacteria are spread from one food product to another. This is especially common when handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. The key is to keep these foods — and their juices — away from ready-to-eat foods. To prevent cross contamination, remember to:

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, and in your refrigerator.
  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  • Do not reuse marinades used on raw foods unless they are boiled first.


Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that can cause illness (refer to the *FDA Safe Cooking Temperatures Chart for the proper internal temperatures). To ensure that your foods are cooked safely, always:

  • Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of cooked foods. Check the internal temperature in several places to make sure that the meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, or dishes containing eggs are cooked to safe minimum internal temperatures as shown in the *FDA’s Safe Cooking Temperatures Chart.
  • Cook ground meat or ground poultry until it reaches a safe internal temperature. Color is not a reliable indicator of safe temperature.
  • Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. Only use recipes in which eggs are cooked or heated thoroughly.
  • When cooking in a microwave oven, cover food, stir, and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking. Always allow standing time, which completes the cooking, before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.
  • Bring sauces, soups, and gravy to a boil when reheating.


Certain foods should be refrigerated promptly – this slows the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. Some general rules to follow are to not overstuff the refrigerator, to ensure cold air is circulating and to keep a constant refrigerator temperature of 40°F (4°C). To chill foods properly, be sure you:

  • Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and other perishables within two hours of cooking or purchasing. Refrigerate within one hour if the temperature outside is above 90°F (32°C).
  • Never thaw food at room temperature, such as on the countertop. Food must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing. There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.
  • Always marinate food in a refrigerator.
  • Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.
  • Use or discard refrigerated food on a regular basis. Follow the recommendations in the Refrigerator & Freezer Storage Chart.

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