A Month of Food Safety Education

Since 1994, the National Restaurant Association has designated September as National Food Safety Month. To celebrate, ServSafe specialists create educational materials, including quizzes and informational posters, based on a new food safety theme every year. The theme for 2018 – “The Future of Food Safety” – recognizes that good food safety is most effective when it is practiced by each person involved in the foodservice process, from the person in charge of receiving orders to the servers or drivers delivering plated or packaged food.

These materials provide operators with an easy way to make sure they and their employees are aware of current best practices for food safety and are meeting current food safety requirements. To help operators minimize risk and maximize food safety at their locations, September 2018’s theme focuses on a different aspect of a restaurant’s back-of-house operations each week, covering everything from new regulations to employee hygiene.

Week 1 (Sept. 2-8)

“Regulation Changes: Staying Compliant with New Changes.” Operators should start National Food Safety Month by reviewing the 2017 FDA Food Code and ensuring their employees comply with all new or updated rules. Changes to the food code will impact how the kitchen is staffed and run, when cooks should remove or change their protective gear, and the acceptable minimum internal temperature of certain cooked meats.

After week one, employees and operators should know:

  1. When a Certified Food Protection Manager should be on site
  2. How employees should cover bandages on their hands when working
  3. The required internal temperature of cooked chicken, game animals, and other meat

Week 2 (Sept. 9-15)

“Suppliers: Best Practices for Receiving Food from Suppliers.” If a kitchen is using contaminated ingredients, adhering to recommended food safety practices during the prep and delivery stages of food service won’t be effective. Operators should consider the processes their restaurants have in place for sourcing, receiving, storing, and documenting food deliveries. Any employee who may be responsible for accepting a delivery or storing ingredients once they have been delivered should be educated about these processes.

After week two, employees and operators should know:

  1. How to tell if scales and thermometers are properly calibrated
  2. What temperature ingredients need to be at when they arrive
  3. How to complete the receiving checklist

Week 3 (Sept. 16-22)

“Consumers: Responding to New Trends and Technologies.” These days, even the most traditional foodservice operators understand how much their customers value the digital restaurant experience. From the rapid-fire spread of information and social media interactions to online ordering and third-party food delivery services, operators must consider how their food safety practices can help – or hurt – their online reputation.

After week three, employees and operators should know:

  1. How digital devices used in the restaurant are cleaned and sanitized
  2. Which websites and mobile apps guests use to discuss their experiences
  3. What steps to take when packaging meals for delivery via in-house or third-party systems

Week 4 (Sept. 23-29)

“Employees: Their Role in Ensuring Food Safety.” Whether they are prepping, cooking, or plating meals, employees play a vital role in keeping food safe for customers. Although commercial kitchens can be hectic, fast-paced workplaces, it’s important for operators to ensure their employees are taking the time necessary to adhere to personal hygiene guidelines, including not working during an illness. Restaurant employees should also be knowledgeable about how to maintain food-safe temperatures and prevent cross-contamination.

By the end of week four, employees and operators should know:

  1. How and when to properly wash their hands
  2. The acceptable internal and holding temperatures for the food they’re handling
  3. How to prevent cross-contamination between raw ingredients and cooked food

Visit the Food Safety Focus website to learn more about this year’s National Food Safety Month theme and print out weekly resources for yourself and your employees.

Ariana Keller
Ariana Keller

Ariana Keller was raised on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in south Alabama, where she learned to fish and love football. She moved to Knoxville with her family when she was 12 and later graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor's degree in English. She spends her free time playing tabletop and video games and passionately rooting for mediocre sports teams. She is an advocate for animal rescue and lives in Knoxville with her husband and their two adopted pets: a hound dog named Beau and a Maine Coon mix named Vesper.