Restaurant safety regulations

Written by michael o. smathers
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Restaurant safety regulations
Latex gloves worn by restaurant employees. (latex gloves image by Wendy Lea Morgan from

Restaurants have a strict set of regulations to which they must abide. These regulations cover the attire and appearance of employees, the cleanliness practices for the facility, the storage of certain types of food such as meat and the safety of the facility. If these regulation are violated, it would pose a serious health and safety risk for both customers and employees. In addition, safety regulations allow restaurants to operate more efficiently. Health inspections occur regularly to ensure compliance with regulations.

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Food Storage

Restaurants must store all food items separately in order to avoid cross contamination. Cross contamination occurs when a contaminated food source comes into physical contact with another item, allowing bacteria to spread. All food items must have date labels indicating when they were received, and the first items received must be the first items used.

Restaurant safety regulations also require refrigeration to have a working thermometer, and that the temperature remain below 4.44 degrees Celsius. According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service, temperatures of 4.44 to 60 degrees Celsius allow bacteria to grow on food and cause illness if eaten.

Employee Hygiene

Restaurant employees should arrive to work freshly bathed and groomed. They should keep their nails clipped shorter than the fingertip, and wear hair tied back or fully covered with a hair net. No hair should hang loose where it could fall into food. They should also avoid nail polish--the chemicals of nail polish can bleed into food.

Employees must wash their hands frequently: after handling raw food, between glove changes, after using the rest room or handling chemicals, and anytime possible contamination could have occurred. According to Iowa State University, hands should be washed up to the elbows with soap and sanitising solution.

Work Safety

Because food preparation involves high temperatures or open flame, a risk of fire exists. Fire extinguishers must hang in easily accessible locations. When using grease or oil, all grease spatters should be cleaned from equipment as soon as possible to avoid starting a fire.

Emergency Exits

In case of a fire, customers and employees alike should have easy access to at least two emergency exits that lead directly outside. Each emergency exit must have lighting above it to clearly mark the exit, and the door must unlock from the inside.

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