This Month’s Food Safety Tip: Employee Drinks and Eating

A frequent cause of violations during inspections is improper staff drink usage. The goal is to avoid contact with surfaces that have been touched by a person’s lips.

Drinks should be in a covered cup with a straw, placed away from the work and food area.  Using an open cup or glass allows the possibility of hand contact with the area that you drink from, and there is the possibility of your drink splashing onto the foods or work area, in effect, contaminating the area. Drinks should be kept away from food or prep areas. On a designated shelf away from foods, or in a refrigerator placed under and away from foods, and in a designated pan.

Drink Flasks are very common nowadays, but the same rules apply. They should be with the lid that flips up into a straw, not the screw top. Coffee Cups from your local coffee place should have a straw placed in the slot you drink from – this minimizes where your lips touch the cup, plus there is usually a residue of coffee that remains on the lid.

Some facilities that I visit do not allow drinks at all by the work station, but provide single use paper cone cups. This eliminates the potential of drink violations.

How have things changed over the years? When I worked in a hotel kitchen back in the 80’s we were allowed 2 beers per shift. Why? Because kitchens were hot!!! The good old days… And I don’t recall drinking my beer thru a straw from a covered cup.

Eating should be done on a worker’s meal break. Having a plate of food on the side of the work station should never be allowed. TV chefs will have a plate while they are working, but that is TV. Nibbling is a no-no also. I myself am guilty of listening to the French Fries that call out to ‘eat me-eat me’, but we have to not listen. Your hands could touch your lips, and chewing the food could possibly allow a stray drop of saliva to reach your customers food.

Lastly – hands should be washed after eating or drinking.

Drink cup and eating rules should be part of your restaurant’s employee policies. Review it with all your staff – Front and Back, have them sign the document that shows they understand the policy, and enforce it. There should be zero tolerance for violating the policy. As a manager, you must set the example and work with your staff so they understand and live the policy.

To learn more detail about Food Safety procedures, or to set up an independent discounted audit of your facility, please contact Peter Bellisario of Peter B Food Safety Audits at peter@peterbfoodsafety.com  or (808)491-7766. Check out my new website –  www.PeterBFoodsafety.com

 

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