Between power outages, produce storage issues, and the various seasonal bugs floating around, the winter months can certainly cause a few issues for anyone working in the food service industry. That’s before even getting to the extra demands that the increased business during the holiday season typically brings.
Food service professionals are run off their feet during the winter months, and safety concerns can sometimes take a back seat. Luckily, by utilizing their food handling training and focusing on potential problem areas, professionals working in the food safety industry don’t have to let their standard drop when the temperature does.
Read on for some useful tips for keeping your food workplace safe this winter.
1. Practice Proper Food Safety During a Power Outage
Bad weather makes power outages inevitable during the winter. For food-related businesses that store refrigerated produce, this can be disastrous, so professionals with certification in food safety learn to take certain precautions.
If you experience a power outage, any meat and most dairy products which have been unrefrigerated and above 4.4°C must be thrown out after 2 hours. If you act fast, you can keep produce cool by storing it in a cooler surrounded by ice. However, it’s important to ensure you keep a close eye on the temperature. If your workplace is at risk of power outages, try to freeze food where possible, as food stored in a freezer will keep for up to 24 hours.
2. A Good Food Safety Course Teaches Students How to Keep Vegetables Fresh
Consumer demand for organic and fresh produce is growing, but as the winter draws on, it can be hard to ensure ingredients are as fresh as possible. During the winter, make sure your produce is properly cured and stored at low temperatures. Also, different crops have different requirements to keep them fresh, for example, root vegetables require moisture, while garlic and onions require dry conditions, so do your research to find out best practices.
3. Food Safety Program 101: Stop the Spread of Winter Bugs
When they studying microbiology, students enrolled in a good food safety program will learn all about how viruses and bacteria can be spread during food preparation. This is especially important during the winter, when instances of foodborne illnesses, such as the norovirus, are much more common.
Food safety professionals should take extra care in the winter with certain foods, like shellfish, which is a notorious norovirus carrier. In addition, it’s important to be mindful of maintaining a clean working environment to guard against the spread of colds and flu, which might be transmitted through customers or coworkers.
4. Don’t Neglect Food Safety When Doing Advanced Food Prep
Many kitchens do advanced meal preparations during the holiday season to relieve pressure on staff. While there is nothing wrong with this, it’s important to be mindful of certain safety guidelines. If you are refrigerating meals for later use, allow them to cool for about 20-30 minutes beforehand, but make sure that perishable products do not sit out at room temperature for more than two hours. When reheating pre-prepared dishes, make sure the food is piping hot—this will kill any bacteria that may have developed.
When thawing food, use the refrigerator, as thawing it at room temperature allows bacteria to grow, and sometimes produce heat-resistant toxins that can cause foodborne illness. Ensure all thawed food is cooked immediately and thoroughly.
Are you interested in pursuing food safety and handling certification in Toronto?
Visit AAPS to learn more about our range of specialized training programs or to speak with an advisor.