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Food Saftey Tips

ira.gifThe Illinois Restaurant Association’s
Food Safety Tips

Clean and sanitize equipment and utensils


The Illinois Restaurant Association’s Food Safety Tip

Use utensils to minimize handling of food and ice

What does this mean?

Direct hand contact with food should be limited to little or none at all. When direct hand contact is used, people must employ the proper technique for the specific preparation, and should wash hands immediately before touching food. Gloves do not change personal hygiene, but rapidly changed gloves do provide a temporary barrier for germs. When gloves are used, they must be changed very frequently and hand washing must occur between glove changes. Gloves are not substitutes for tongs, scoops, spoons, or utensils.

Ice is food. It must be scooped with a food grade ice scoop – not a glass or by hand.

What can you do?

1. Train yourself to keep your hands out of the food and use utensils instead. Make sure that clean spoons, knives, and forks are picked up by their handles.

2. Cups, glasses, and bowls must be handled so that fingers and thumbs do not touch the insides or lip surface.

3. The proper utensil for stirring or mixing is not a gloved hand. The proper utensil is a ladles, tong, paddle, or whisk.

4. Utensils in continuous use may be stored in hot running water.

5. Ice can only be served from an ice scoop. Keep it inside the ice bin with the handle out of the ice or deep it in a clean and sanitized container adjacent to the ice.

6. Don’t allow food or ice utensils to be stored in toilet, garbage, or mechanical rooms; or below plumbing lines.

The Illinois Restaurant Association’s Food Safety Tip

Keep wiping cloths clean and restricted;
Keep food and non food contact areas clean

What does this mean?

A wiping cloth is a towel, or paper towel used to wipe counters and work areas. It must be clean, and should be stored in a sanitizing solution between uses – not on the counter. Wiping cloths are not the same as potholders.

People who are handling food should be responsible for keeping counters, shelves, and equipment clean at all times. Clean as you go. Keep food contact surfaces clean and sanitized after each use.

What can you do?

1. Wiping cloths should be stored in a sanitizing solution, and kept on a shelf below the food preparation zone. Be careful to use the minimum amount of sanitizer needed, because it will have a tendency to dry some people’s hands.

2. Do not allow wiping cloths to be left around the prep area, or to be kept below sink drain lines.

3. All areas should be cleaned and organized. This helps to prevent infestations, improves security, and reduces waste.

4. Food preparation areas, and food contact surfaces need to be cleaned and sanitized between each use. Areas or equipment in continuous use should be cleaned and sanitized at least every two hours, unless refrigerated.

5. Provide enough cleaners, sanitizers, buckets, cloths, scrubbies, and incidental items to keep the facility clean.

6. Teach staff the correct method to clean and sanitize surfaces without contaminating food from the cleaning process or side splash. Teach damp wiping not flooding.

The Illinois Restaurant Association’s Food Safety Tip

Enclose outside garbage and storage

What does this mean?

Garbage, recycling, and trash containers must be enclosed. They must be kept in a manner that does not create odors, runoff, attract birds or rodents, or create a nuisance for the public or neighbors.

What can you do?

  1. Trash cans and dumpsters must have tight fitting lids.
  2. Access to the trash area should be restricted by side walls and a gate that locks.
  3. Storage enclosures must be kept clean and free of rodents or vermin.
  4. Enclosures should be located on a smooth surface of nonabsorbent material, such as concrete.
  5. All areas should be clean and in good repair, with pock marks, stains, odors, or serve as attractants for insects, small animals, or others.

The Illinois Restaurant Association’s Food Safety Tip

Clean and sanitize equipment and utensils

What does this mean?

Utensils, tableware and equipment that touch food must be cleaned and sanitized between uses. Cleaning means scrubbing away all visible soil, grease, and food than rinsing the item in clean water. Sanitizing means treating the item with hot water or chemicals to kill germs that may have remained on the equ9pment after it was cleaned and rinsed. To sanitize you must use either hot water or chemicals but you cannot use chemicals in water over 120F or the chemicals will evaporate. Cleaning and sanitizing must occur in a dishwasher or three-compartment sink and the sanitizing cycle must be measured. In a “hot water” dishwasher the sanitizing cycle is measured by the temperature of the water at the final rinse. It must be 180F at 15-25 pounds of pressure to turn the plat 160F. In a “cold water” dishwasher or three-compartment sink the strength of the sanitizer must be measured with a test kit.

What can you do?

  1. Require ever person to look at the equipment and utensils they use or serve to make sure they do not contain old food, grease, spots, streaks, or stains. If they find an unclean item, the item should be sent back and the dishwasher checked. Lack of cleaning means lack of scrubbing, poor loading, dirty water, or lack of detergent. Check the dishwasher.

  2. You cannot see the lack of sanitizing because you cannot see the germs left on the equipment. Therefore, you must test the sanitizer to make certain it is at the correct strength. Use a test kit supplied by the maker of your sanitizer.


The Illinois Restaurant Association’s
Food Safety Tip for September

Thaw food safely; Protect food during storage, preparation, and holding

What does this mean?

Frozen food must be kept at or below zero degrees. It can be thawed in cold running water, under refrigeration, by complete cooking from its frozen state, or in a microwave followed by immediate cooking.

Protect food by storing it at the correct temperature, keep it covered, and in a clean container. Liquid food should be separate from dry food. Cans should be separate from glass.

Safe preparation begins with professional hygiene, and clean and sanitized utensils. Prepare food only in areas designed for food preparation, not under stairs, etc. Do not leave food at room temperature before or after preparation.

Take food directly from temperature control to display. Limit the amount of food so that it is used within one hour. Food should be protected from customers with sneeze guards, separate utensils, or individual packages.

What can you do?

1. Plan ahead for frozen food. Thaw thick food in the refrigerator - plan 36 hours for thawing. Thin items can be thawed in running water in 10 minutes. Frozen eggs should be thawed in the refrigerator.

2. When thawing with running water, the item must be submerged in water, not just under a stream of running water. Thawing should be finished within one hour.

3. All potentially hazardous food must be kept below 40F or above 140F except during immediate preparation.

4. Use batch preparation for protection. Work one item in small batches. When it is finished, put it away.

5. Food on display must be protected from customer and server contamination with sneeze guards, utensils, or individual portion containers.

The Illinois Restaurant Association’s
Food Safety Tip for August

Cleaning & Sanitizing: You’ve got to do them both for either one to count!

What does this mean?

All food contact surfaces must be washed, rinsed, and sanitized after each use. This includes:

  • When your food preparation on a table or cutting board has been completed.
  • Any time there is an interruption in a food preparation task where the in-use utensils or items could have been contaminated.
  • At four hour intervals when prep surfaces and utensils are in constant use.
  • After dishes, glassware, and flatware have been used.

Cleaning is alone is not a substitute for sanitizing; nor is sanitizing a substitute for cleaning. Food-contact surfaces must be washed and rinsed before they can be effectively sanitized.

What can you do?

Proper cleaning and sanitizing includes the following steps performed in the order shown:

  • Prewash — remove gross food particles before applying a cleaner.
  • Wash — the application of a cleaning compound such as a synthetic detergent. This can also involve soaking, spraying a cleaning solution on the surface, foaming, jelling, and abrasive cleaning.
  • Rinse — the removal of all traces of the cleaning agent with clean water.
  • Sanitize — a process using heat or chemicals that reduces the bacterial and pathogenic count to a safe level.
  • Air dry — the sanitizing process is fully complete when the item being sanitized is allowed to air dry.

If you are sanitizing with hot water, the water must reach a temperature of 170 degrees and the item must be submerged in the water for a minimum of 30 seconds. If you are sanitizing using chemicals, the chemical mix must be at the manufacturer’s recommended strength.


The Illinois Restaurant Association’s
Food Safety Tip for July

Practice Good Personal Hygiene: Wash those hands!

What does this mean?

When you work with food and food-contact surfaces, you can easily spread bacteria and viruses and contaminate these items. The most important personal hygiene rule is to properly wash your hands. This should be done often. Gloves and/or hand sanitizers do not replace proper handwashing!

You should always thoroughly wash your hands and exposed parts of your arms:

  • Before beginning to work with food
  • After touching hair, face, or body
  • After using the restroom
  • After coughing, sneezing, using a handkerchief
  • After eating or drinking
  • After smoking or chewing gum
  • When switching from raw to ready-to-eat foods

What can you do?

Wash your hands the right way.

  1. Use warm to hot water to moisten hands. Use the hottest possible water that you can
  2. Apply soap.
  3. Rub hands together for at least twenty seconds.
  4. Using a nailbrush, clean under fingernails and between fingers.
  5. Rinse hands thoroughly under running water.
  6. Dry your hands using a single-service paper towel or hot air dryer. If you use a hot air dryer, make certain that hands are completely dry.


Keep Potentially Hazardous Food at Safe Temperatures

What does this mean?

Any food that becomes contaminated can make people sick, however those foods most often associated with foodborne illness are called potentially hazardous foods. These foods are usually high in protein, high in moisture, and are neutral to slightly acidic. The U.S. Public Health Service classifies potentially hazardous foods as "any food that consists in whole or in part of milk or milk products, shell eggs, meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, edible crustacea (shrimp, lobster, crab, etc.), baked or boiled potatoes, tofu and other soy-protein foods, plant foods that have been heat-treated, raw seed sprouts, or synthetic ingredients." Potentially hazardous foods can support rapid growth of disease-causing microorganisms.

Potentially hazardous food does not include unopened commercially canned food, dried pasta, uncooked rice, or dry flour. Food with a pH of 4.6 or below or a water activity rate of 0.85 or below is not considered potentially hazardous.

Potentially hazardous foods must be kept at 41ºF or less, or above 140º F during storage, preparation, display, and service.

What can you do?

1) Cook food to the minimum recommended temperatures:


Shell eggs, Fish, Beef Roasts, Beef Steaks 145ºF for 15 seconds
Pork, Game, Ground Meat, Eggs on a Buffet 155ºF for 15 seconds
Field Dressed Game, Poultry, Stuffed Meats & Fish, Stuffing 165ºF for 15 seconds

2) Rapidly chill hot food for leftovers as follows:

140ºF to 70ºF within 2 hours

70ºF to 41ºF within the next 4 hours


140ºF to 41ºF within 4 hours.

3) Store chilled food in covered, labeled, and dated containers at 41F or below.

4) Store hot food at 140ºF or above during holding, displaying, or awaiting service.
Store cold food at 41ºF or below during holding, displaying or awaiting service.

5) Reheat cold food to 165ºF for 15 seconds within 2 hours.

6) Whenever possible, add an acid base, lemon juice, wine, etc. as an ingredient for flavoring purposes which will also help keep the food safe.