Everyone in the supply chain—from the supplier to the chef—has a part to play in food safety, which is key when it comes to keeping food safe and members healthy.
Food safety is one of the most important parts of running any club culinary program and exists to prevent members from harm. Food safety refers to the conditions and practices that preserve the quality of food to prevent contamination and food-borne illnesses. Safe food handling practices and procedures are implemented at every stage of the food production cycle in order to curb risks and prevent harm to consumers, but it is also a club chef’s job to handle, prepare, and store all food properly.
The only way to ensure food safety is to make sure that all employees who handle any food understand the food safety procedures of the club kitchen. Employees must understand how food can become contaminated, the different types of food contamination, and which foods are high-risk (raw meat and poultry, unwashed vegetables, etc.).
The procedures must explain to employees how to safely store, refrigerate, thaw, and prepare food, how to effectively clean and sanitize surfaces, equipment, and utensils, and understand why personal hygiene and appropriate workplace behavior are necessary for food safety.
Employees must wash hands and surfaces often. Hands should be washed for 20 seconds with soap and water before, during, and after preparing food and before eating. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be rinsed under running water and utensils, cutting boards, and countertops need to be washed with hot, soapy water.
Separating certain foods to avoid cross-contamination is critical. Foods such as raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs should be separated when being stored. These items should also be prepared separately while using their own cutting boards and tools.
Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature gets high enough to kill germs that can make someone sick. The only way to tell if food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer. Also, bacteria can multiply rapidly if left at room temperature or in the “Danger Zone” between 40°F and 140°F. Frozen foods should be thawed in the refrigerator or in cold water, never on counters.
From farm to factory to fork, food products may encounter any number of health hazards during their journey through the supply chain. It is important for any employee who handles food in a club to follow food safety procedures and understand how the consequences of improper food safety can jeopardize the health of members as well as a club’s reputation.