It’s always been essential to maintain strict cleanliness practices at your restaurant—especially in the kitchen. But having a safe and hygienic restaurant kitchen is now more important than ever. Recent times have made even the slightest mistake non-negotiable.
An important part of restaurant management is maintaining exceptional customer feedback. With customers worried about the risks of catching a virus and falling ill through avoidable situations, you have to put in extra effort to make them feel safe.
They need to be reassured that you’re following all safety and hygiene regulations, so that it is alright for them to order or dine in at your restaurant. Here are some ways to make your restaurant kitchen safer for you and your guests’ peace of mind and wellbeing.
1. Make Sure All Food Is Properly Cooked
If you’re serving dishes that contain meat, poultry, and fish, you need to ensure that they are thoroughly cooked. Cooking these dishes at lower temperatures runs the risk of leaving germs behind. If any of your food is slightly undercooked—it can become a potential health hazard for your guests.
The same goes for eggs and other seafood as well. Have someone be in charge of making sure all food is cooked at the required temperate to kill germs and cook it evenly.
2. Don’t Serve Food at Room Temperature
If you’ve cooked a dish that’s supposed to be served hot—don’t let it reach room temperature by the time it gets to your guests. Similarly, if there’s a dish that needs to be served cold, such as a dessert item, don’t let it become lukewarm before your guests receive it at their table.
Food at room temperature becomes an ideal breeding spot for germs. In fact, many incidences of food poisoning also happen with food that was left at lukewarm temperature, where germs quickly took a hold of it.
If your kitchen holds a buffet, make sure you have someone responsible for keeping the cold items chilled and the hot items steaming to be on the safe side.
3. Make Sure None of Your Kitchen Staff Is Sick
A sick chef or other kitchen worker can become the primary source of transmission of germs to numerous guests. Get your kitchen staff checked up regularly, and if anyone shows symptoms, even if they are mild and seemingly harmless, get them tested or ask them to stay home until they are in the clear.
It’s impossible to catch everyone’s illness immediately, so you must also ensure all your kitchen staff wears gloves and a mask at all times. Have them change their gloves often and ensure that nobody prepares foods such as salads and meats without—which require handling—without gloves.
It’s important to remember that while this pandemic is ongoing, there are many adjustments we need to make to our businesses. If you do send sick staff members home, make sure they are fully supported and are not struggling financially because of the decisions you need to make.
4. Make Regular Handwashing Mandatory
Encourage all your kitchen staff to wash their hands as often as possible. Whether they are checking in to the restaurant, going for a break or for lunch, after wiping down counters and surfaces, and even when they are leaving at the end of the day—make sure they are washing their hands.
Ensure that all your handwashing stations have sanitizer, reliable soap with the appropriate amount of alcohol (60%) and paper towels to dry with. You can even put up signs and reminders so that everyone knows that they need to wash their hands regularly.
5. Reduce Staff
This doesn’t mean you should let go of your staff. It just means that you need to limit the number of people in the kitchen. If only a few individuals handle the food, the lower the chances of an individual with an illness coming into contact with food get.
Of course, make sure that you still have enough employees in the kitchen to handle raw and cooked food separately, but try and keep only essential people and create shifts so different staff members are in the kitchen at different times in the day.
6. Make Sure All Your Staff Is Trained
Having staff that is trained in food safety in handling is essential. Ensure that all your kitchen staff and servers know the guidelines of food safety. People who have completed their training should have a certificate attesting to their knowledge.
Food safety involves knowing how to handle different kinds of food items and limiting the chances of spreading germs and other airborne diseases. When your staff is trained—they know the do’s and don’t’s of food preparation and storage to produce safe dishes.
7. Disinfect as Often as Possible
Disinfect all your kitchen surfaces every hour. Clean the cookware and all surfaces that are touched frequently such as doors and handles. Also make sure you are disinfecting the tables and the utensils. All your restaurant equipment should be disinfected as well, especially when different chefs are using the equipment.
If you want customer feedback to be aimed towards your diligence—make sure guests know that you are taking these precautions. You can do this by posting videos or uploading posts on your social media which reassure guests that an employee disinfects all surfaces every hour. You can also inform them that no utensils and cookware is used without disinfection.
Guests are quite wary, especially when they are ordering online or if they cannot visit your kitchen in person. Having such posts and insights into your restaurant’s best practices will help them feel more comfortable before dining in or ordering from your business.
If you want to learn more about how to safely operate your restaurant during the pandemic, you can check the official U.K. guidelines on restaurant safety. The chances of getting COVID-19 from food are low, but a few precautions go a long when in ensuring no untoward circumstances take place.