Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Avoiding Foodborne Illness

Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Avoiding Foodborne Illness https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/ecoli0916.jpg

By Paul Schlienz

It’s one of the worst things that can happen to a restaurant.

You strive to provide the best food with the highest safety standards for your customers, but one customer, then another, claims your food made them sick.

This is bad news any way you look at it.

Such outbreaks of foodborne illness, including Salmonella, E-coli, Norovirus and others, have devastating impacts not only on those who are sickened by these bugs, but also on the restaurants themselves. More than one eatery has gone out of business due to a foodborne illness, and major chains, while surviving the body blow of a foodborne illness, lose money customers and reputation.

So how do you avoid foodborne illnesses?

According to the Washington State Department of Health, some of the important steps you should be taking include:

  • Washing fruits and vegetables carefully.
  • Looking closely at the foods you prepare.
  • Keeping the food preparation area free of things that can fall into the food.
  • Making sure equipment is working properly.
  • Making sure food is protected when you clean the kitchen.
  • Cooking all pork, beef and fish to the proper temperatures.
  • Using fish that has been frozen to kill parasites for raw dishes like sushi.
  • Using approved sources of water.
  • Not working with food if you have diarrhea; vomiting; fever; continual sneezing, coughingor runny nose; or diagnosed infections that can be spread through food or infected, uncovered wounds.
  • Washing your hands twice after using the toilet – once in the restroom, and then again when you get back in the kitchen.
  • Washing your hands after handling raw meat, fish, poultry, garbage or dirty dishes, taking a break, eating, smoking, sneezing, coughing, blowing your nose, handling animals or using chemicals.
  • Using hand sanitizers.
  • Using gloves or utensils instead of bare hands when handling ready-to-eat food.
  • Washing, rinsing, and sanitizing all food preparation equipment.
  • Keeping fingernails trimmed so hands can be easily cleaned.
  • Washing hands before putting on gloves.
  • Changing gloves that get ripped.
  • Changing gloves that might be contaminated.
  • Never washing or reusing gloves.
  • Changing gloves between working with raw and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Throwing gloves away after use.
  • Washing hands after taking gloves off.

These and more tips are available at the Department of Health’s Food Safety page.

And if a customer claims your restaurant was responsible for making them sick, here are some steps you should follow.

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