Kitchen safety is important, especially when the food prepared is serving hundreds of people. There are general rules and guidelines one must follow to have a clean and safe kitchen and avoid the spreading of bacterial germs.
The individuals who physically prepare the food should wash their hands often. This should be done when switching work stations, working with new ingredients, handling money or touching anything that might be unsanitary. It is vital that hands are constantly clean, as germs can be picked up from anywhere and transferred to the food. This particularly pertains to raw meats. Hand washing is especially important in school kitchens, as the food prepared here will serve hundreds of hungry students.
A school kitchen should have at least one certified manager. The responsible individual should be certified in food safety, food handling and general sanitation practices and should have completed several courses in general kitchen safety measures. This person should then be responsible for passing this knowledge on to the remaining staff, so everyone in the kitchen knows basic food safety practices. Staff should learn this during their first stage of employment and updated often thereafter.
Cross-contamination is one of the most dangerous mistakes one can make in a school kitchen. It is important to keep certain foods apart to avoid any form of transmission of germs or bacteria from one food to another. For example, it is forbidden to place raw food directly beside or in contact with food that is ready to be eaten, particularly raw meats. Cross-contamination can occur by putting foods in direct contact with each other, avoiding washing utensils after use, sharing cutting boards and using the same spatula for raw and cooked meat. Spreading of germs can also occur if one doesn't sanitise rags and sponges regularly or forgets to wipe down surfaces in the kitchen.
Importance of Temperatures
Make sure kitchen staff is aware of the importance of cooking at the proper temperatures. When undercooked, foods may be harmful. This is because the food's internal temperature can still be considered dangerous, even though the outside looks thoroughly cooked. Bacteria spread easily when hovering in these temperatures, which are below 135°F for hot foods and over 41°F for cold foods, according to Cooking Schools 101. Consuming foods that have not been cooked at the proper temperatures can lead to food poisoning or severe illness.
Train all staff on general safety measures. It is important they all work together to avoid food poisoning. When working at a school kitchen, bacteria is everywhere; children bring it into the serving area and continue to spread it wherever they touch. It is important to keep microorganisms, viruses and parasites from entering the plates of the children, so make sure to have cleaning measures, cooking charts and temperature guidelines as part of the daily procedures. Furthermore, it is a good idea, according to Food Safe Schools, to have a plan of action in the event of a suspected food-borne illness outbreak. This is to avoid any permanent health problems or fatalities at the school, in case a severe outbreak should occur.