It is important to keep food safe while transporting it to the pantry or the kitchen. Whether you are picking up food from a supermarket, a grocery store, a community garden, or direct from a farm. Here are several food safety guidelines that will help your restaurant maintain a high standard of food hygiene while keeping food safe for your customers.
Keep your Food Transport Vehicle & Transport Equipment Clean
Many restauranteurs know the basic food hygiene rules of keeping the kitchen and the restaurant clean in accordance to food safety regulations. However, not many of them are aware that maintaining a clean food transport vehicle is equally important in preventing food contamination during transport.
Here are some food hygiene practices that you should exercise when transporting food:
Food Safety Tips When Transporting Food
- Keep your transport vehicles clean of dirt, insects and animals
- Create a schedule to routinely clean the vehicle to prevent cross-contamination
- Food storage containers such as totes, storage boxes and bins used to transport bulk items like produce or bread should only be used for food transport and nothing else.
- Clean food containers after every use to prevent contamination
- Use plastic pallets instead of wood pallets for food transport. For the food industry, plastic pallets are better than wood pallets when it comes to transporting food.
- Separate raw food items from ready-to-eat foods
- Never reuse disposable containers to transport food
Food Storage Tips
Once food is being transported to your premises, it is important to store ready-to-eat and raw food at the appropriate temperature. This helps to prevent bacteria and germs from multiplying and minimise the risk of food spoilage.
Monitoring Temperatures of Freezers & Refrigerators
Use a thermometer to check that refrigerators or freezers are operating at the correct temperatures. Monitor the temperatures of the equipments regularly.
For pre-packed food, follow the storage indication on the packaging. Refer to the chart below for the correct temperatures for storing fresh produce:
Refrigerated & Frozen Food Storage Temperatures Chart
|Type of Food||Temperature|
|Frozen Meat||-12°C and below
For longer storage, set at -18°C and below
|Chilled Fresh Meat/ Fish||Between 0°C and 4°C|
|Thawed Frozen Meat||Between 0°C and 4°C|
|Ice Cream||-2°C and below|
|Dairy Products||7°C and below|
Only Use What You Need
Cut huge pieces of raw meat into smaller chunks before freezing. Only take out the required quantity from the freezer for use.
Store Raw Food Separately
Keep different types of raw meat and seafood separately by placing them in distinct compartments or containers when storing the refrigerator or chiller.
Ensure that food sold in the frozen state is not defrosted and re-frozen for sale.
The Temperature Danger Zone
Do not overstock the refrigerator or freezer with foods especially with foods that are still warm. Doing so will raise your refrigerator’s temperature, and bring the temperature into the Temperature Danger Zone.
Similarly, avoid leaving the refrigerator or freezer door open for too long as this will raise the temperature inside the refrigerator and allow the germs to multiply.
Germs multiply rapidly within the Temperature Danger Zone of between n 5°C and 60°C. To reduce the risk of contamination, hot and cold ready-to-eat foods must be stored at correct temperatures.
Hot food should be kept in a proper warming or heating equipment at above 60°C, outside the Temperature Danger Zone. Cold ready-to-eat food should be kept in a chiller or refrigerator below 5°C.
Store any excess food (food not immediately served) quickly in the refrigerator below 5°C. If food is left at room temperature in the Temperature Danger Zone, harmful germs can grow to a dangerous level.
Labelling Stored Food
Cover food properly before placing them in the refrigerator. Label the food with important information such as date of purchase or preparation. Always store cooked and ready-to-eat food above the raw food in the refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination.
The 4-hour Rule
Never keep unsold, left-over cooked food or food that has been kept for more than 4 hours after they are cooked, as germs can multiply to dangerous levels after 4 hours.
Food Safety: The Ultimate Customer Experience
The food that a restaurant serves accounts for a large part of the customer’s experience. Hence, it is critical to ensure that your food is fresh, tasty and safe for consumption. Imagine the terror a customer may face when he/she finds a cockroach in their food while dining! We think that food safety and hygiene is the foundation to achieving that fine dining experience.
What other food safety tips do you think restauranteurs should know?
Many of the food safety and hygiene tips mentioned in this article were obtained from the National Environmental Agency (NEA) website.