Got Concerns about Food Safety? 3 Ways Your Small Business Can Learn from HACCP

Image by: Cuci Tangan
By: George Lamb

Food safety issues can be quite a problem at the upstart of a small business. Rules and regulations when it comes to handling food are particularly important, as improper hygiene can result in your business getting shut down before it even gets started.

Hand washing, keeping food prep stations clean and tidy, and keeping food stored away at the appropriate temperatures may seem like easy tasks, but when it comes to executing such things on a regular basis, shortcuts tend to be adopted. Your small business may or may not be guilty of these shortcuts, but if you find yourself avoiding the plastic gloves or skipping a hand washing session, then beware of any spontaneous trips from auditors.

Auditors’ jobs are to make sure the workplace is operating at peak condition, and often times if that’s not the case you may run into various issues and fines. In the 1990’s the food chain Jack-in-the-box got a bad wrap after reports that their food was the result of many

Americans developing illnesses over the years. And yes, I’m no expert but those issues most likely arose from poor workplace habits. So to avoid suffering a similar fate as the now revamped food chain, here are a few ways in which incorporating the HACCP food program can maintain the integrity of your business.

#1) Main Food Hazards

The food we eat—for those of us that aren’t vegan, at least—is essentially a dead carcass. Yea that’s a pretty gross way of putting it, but it’s the absolute truth. And because of this fact, we may not be the only life forms using such foods as sustenance. Bacteria that is capable of causing illnesses also aspire to eat our food, and may be carried on or grow on food if the proper precautions aren’t utilized.

A few well known examples of common bacteria that is detrimental to our health is Listeria, Campylobacter and, especially, Salmonella. It is imperative that, before you store, serve and stock your foods that you understand the risks and how to prevent the infestation of these microbiological hazards.

Chemical hazards can also be a huge threat when dealing with food of any type, as excessive amounts of pesticides, chemicals, metals, minerals, preservatives or cleaning compounds can prove to be devastatingly toxic to the human body, causing illness injury, or–god forbid–a casualty. Death by hamburger, now that’s an unpleasant way to go…

#2) Handling Raw Foods

It is important to separate raw meats from other foods to avoid cross-contamination, which can occur when bacteria is spread from one product to another. The key is to keep the ready to eat foods away from foods such as poultry, raw meat, eggs or seafood. If another item that is already cooked or ready to eat just happened to have a fling with a frozen hot dog, then the ideal choice is to just toss it out and avoid the chances of the food making its way to a customer.

Other things to keep in mind when handling raw foods is to always change the gloves you used to handle raw foods when handling drinks or other foods; never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat; don’t reuse marinades used on raw foods unless you bring them to a boil first; and use a cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and eggs. Salmonela, Ecolie, and many other illnesses can be prevented by heeding these simple steps. 

#3) Maintenance

Whether its a fast food, a restaurant or a corporate business, it is always important to set up systems to establish a maintenance crew to keep a workplace sanitized. Although used in virtually every business known to man, maintenance workers should be especially frugal when cleaning food services industries.  Pay careful attention to the stainless steel or other contact surfaces, utensils and equipment used on the food.

Also, programs to rid your workplace of any rodents, pests and creepy crawlies should also be taken into effect, as such things can be hazardous to your customers health.

The maintenance team you assemble should be able to execute the duties followed: Cleaning of Walls and floors, doors, windows, overhead fixtures, stainless steel (or other) surfaces and bathrooms. This is just as–if not more–important that the food handling procedures, as a customer often judges the quality of food by the physical appearance of a company.

#4) Training Employees

One of the biggest threats to any food safety system is poor staff training in food hygiene. It is of the utmost importance that all staff is cognizant of food safety rules and regulations regardless of their level of importance or position on the team.

If you’re stumped as to how to monitor and ensure the entire staff is well-informed about the duties associate with food safety, then perhaps incorporate an elaborate training system that each individual employee must adhere to before making staff. Informative videos, quizzes and surveillance are all viable techniques to make sure none of the crew is slacking off.

#5) Personal Hygiene

Although encouraging consistent personal hygiene activities such as showering, hair maintenance and the covering of the mouth after a sneeze or cough is important, it is also important to instruct your colleagues to keep their clothes washed and jewelry to a minimum.

Yea you may offend people here or there, but from personal experience, in every workplace there are always a select few folks who may benefit from a little instruction. It goes without saying that you’d want to handle the enforcement of this food safety rule in a delicate manner. The last thing you would want is to send your best cook home bawling tears after scolding them about how smelly they are.

Have you had any bad encounters with your auditor in recent past? What are some rules you failed to adhere to upon opening your brand new business? Let us know in the comments section below!