If you're studying to get your food handlers permit, there is certain information about food safety that you need to know. Here are five food safety tips for food handlers:
1. Keep food out of the danger zone
You must keep food out of what's known as the "danger zone". The danger zone is a temperature range of 40-140 degrees. Food should not be kept in this zone longer than two hours or you risk food-borne illnesses. Many bacteria including E. coli and Salmonella species grow optimally in the danger zone. To keep food above this danger zone use heated trays and serving dishes. If you want to chill your dishes, keep food in coolers with ice.
2. Mind your hands
As a food handler your hands are often the one thing separating patrons from illness. You must wash your hands for 30-60 seconds with warm, soapy water before handling food. Any time you take a break or touch raw meat, wash your hands again before handling food. Also, if you have a cut or sore, cover it with a clean bandage and wear gloves. Covering your cuts will also keep you safe from bacteria that could be present in meat.
3. Keep food and preparation areas clean
You should keep all food and food preparation areas clean. Here are some general tips:
- Use separate cutting boards, utensils, and dishes for raw meat, fruits, and vegetables.
- Clean cutting boards and utensils with warm, soapy water and paper towels after use.
- Rinse and scrub fruits and vegetables under hot water.
- If a surface comes in contact with raw meat, immediately spray it with a bleach solution and wipe with a paper towel.
4. Know food safety temperatures
Just because meat looks done, doesn't mean it's at a safe temperature. Food needs to reach certain internal temperatures in order to kill harmful, illness-causing pathogens. Here is a guide on internal food temperatures:
- Beef- 160 degrees
- Pork- 160 degrees
- Poultry- 180 degrees
5. Detect food spoilage
As a food handler you should also know when food is spoiled and no longer safe to eat. Here are the signs of food spoilage:
- Change in color or appearance. For example, a red meat may take on a darker purple or blue tone.
- Change in texture, especially if it becomes sticky or softer.
- Unusual or foul odor. For example, spoiled chicken can give off a fishy odor.
- The container the food is in is swollen or bulging. Containers may swell due to gases produced by bacteria.
These are five food safety tips that will help you earn your food handlers card. For more information, contact a company like Ace Food Handler.