Welcome to Week One of National Food Safety Education Month! This week we are going to talk about the first foundational step to food safety – CLEAN.
It may seem like a simple topic, but it is packed full of very important information necessary for safe food. We are going to dive in deep to discuss how to properly clean produce, surfaces, hands and more.
Proper ways to clean produce
The first step is to be sure that your prep area and prep sink are properly washed, rinsed and sanitized before use. Keep these areas dedicated to prepping food only. They should not be used for dirty dishes, handwashing, etc.
You also want to be sure that, when cleaning and prepping fresh produce, there is no chance of cross contamination with things such as raw meat, poultry or seafood. Keep these items separate and when possible, prep and wash fresh produce BEFORE any raw meat, poultry or seafood.
Once you have a clean and sanitized environment free from the possibility of cross contamination - you will want to rinse your produce under cool running water. If rinsing leafy greens - pull apart the leaves to rinse any trapped dirty away. This water should be slightly warmer than the produce you are washing. Generally, running water is sufficient, however there are certain chemical cleaners designed for produce. If using these, be sure they are approved by the local regulatory authorities, approved for commercial use and be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions to avoid any overuse or misuse.
If you are filling a prep sink with fresh water with the intention of soaking and rinsing produce, it is important not to mix multiple items or different batches of the same item. Doing this decreases the risk of cross contamination.
Proper ways to clean surfaces
It is important to have a Cleaning and Sanitizing Program in place in your establishment and that all staff is properly trained in these procedures. It is also important to understand the difference between Cleaning and Sanitizing. Let's break these two down a little bit to clear any confusion.
Cleaning is removing any dirt or debris from a surface. Think of this as removing anything that is visible to the eye.
Sanitizing is removing the pathogens on a surface down to a safer level. Think of this as removing anything that is NOT visible to the eye. You cannot get the surface 100% sterile - but you can reduce the number of pathogens to non-threatening levels.
Properly cleaning surfaces involves both of these steps. One is not more important than the other - both are necessary for preventing foodborne illnesses.
In order to properly clean and sanitize a surface you need the proper cleaning products. Your establishment will have specific soaps, detergents, and sanitizers available for you to use. Be sure to use according to the manufacturer's directions to ensure effectiveness. This can be done through the use of test kits.
The steps for cleaning and sanitizing surfaces are as follows:
1. Scrub and remove any food or other debris from the surface.
2. Wash the surface using an approved cleaner.
3. Rinse the surface (unless stated otherwise on manufacturer's directions).
4. Sanitize the surface using an approved sanitizer.
5. Allow the surface to air-dry.
For more details on cleaning and sanitizing, check out Chapter 10 of the ServSafe Manager's Book.
This is a topic that we all know too well, however most of us are not doing it properly. Below are the steps necessary for proper handwashing. Remember the whole process should take at least 20 seconds.
1. Use warm running water to wet hands and arms.
2. Apply approved soap, enough to generate a lather.
3. Lather and scrub for at least 10-15 seconds. Be sure to include fingernails, in between fingers and fingertips.
4. Rinse thoroughly using warm running water. Rinse until all soap residue is gone.
5. Dry using single use paper towel or hand dryer.
Tip of the Week
Buy produce that is already prepped and thoroughly washed from an approved source. This reduces YOUR workload and reduces the chances of cross-contamination.
Owner, Sam Derr's favorite Breakfast Burrito Recipe