Food Safety Supervisor Guide to Improving Food Safety in a Pub/Hotel

This guide describes how a Food Safety Supervisor can improve Food Safety in a Pub/Hotel setting.
June 29, 2016
By Grace Smith

Designed for the pub/hotel industry, this Food Safety Supervisor Guide will help Food Safety Supervisors improve food safety in a hotel through:

  • Safe cooking
  • High-quality cleaning and sanitising standards
  • Careful temperature control
  • Catering to customers with allergies
  • Improving the personal hygiene of employees
  • Preparing for and dealing with emergencies such as power outages
  • Preventing and controlling common hotel pests

Kitchen Skills

The top five breaches of food safety in Australian food businesses, including hotels, include:

  • Not cooking food thoroughly
  • Poor refrigeration
  • Poor temperature control
  • Cross-contamination
  • Poor hygiene among workers

Cooking

Chefs preparing foods should:

  • Cook foods thoroughly, especially meats
  • Throw away any expired foods, even if they are only a day past the use-by date
  • Avoid using any foods that touch the floor or come into contact with an unclean or unsanitised surface

They also need to pay particular attention when handling potentially hazardous foods such as:

  • Raw and cooked meat, poultry and meat products;
  • Dairy products and foods containing dairy products;
  • Seafood;
  • Processed fruits and vegetables;
  • Cooked rice and pasta;
  • Processed foods containing eggs;
  • Beans, nuts and other protein-rich foods

Cleaning and Sanitising

All hotel staff who come into contact with food – from chefs to wait staff and even cleaning staff – must have adequate food safety knowledge and skills for their role, and this extends to cleaning and sanitising.

Chefs and food handling staff especially must:

  • Clean and sanitise food preparation areas, including preparation tables, stoves, ovens, and other appliances used in cooking or preparing menu items
  • Clean and sanitise all utensils used in food preparation, including knives, stirring utensils, plates and cutting boards

Refrigerating

Temperature Control

Your refrigerator is designed to keep foods out of the temperature danger zone and limit the growth of bacteria. This means that you must regularly monitor that your refrigerator is keeping foods at the correct temperature, and record these temperatures daily.

  • If you have a refrigerator that shows the temperature on the thermostat, ensure that it is set to 4 or 5°C
  • If your refrigerator does not have a temperature reading, you must place a thermometer inside, and regularly monitor and record the temperatures it shows. This might mean testing the temperatures of individual foods by sticking a clean thermometer inside the food and waiting
  • If you notice dairy products spoiling before their use-by date, this indicates that your refrigerator might not be working properly or that the fans are not circulating the cold throughout the fridge effectively

Storing Foods In Your Refrigerator

Where you place foods in a refrigerator is important, as haphazardly placing foods can endanger other foods through cross-contamination or prevent the cool air from circulating to foods that need it most. Here are a few simple tips:

  • Separate raw and ready to eat foods, placing them on different shelves
  • Do not allow your refrigerator to become too crowded, as this increases the likelihood that foods with a spill and taint each other
  • Cover and place uncooked meats on the bottom shelf
  • Place ready to eat foods in labelled containers on the top shelves
  • Follow the 2 hour/4 hour rule with regard to cooked foods – foods should be placed in the refrigerator no later than two hours after cooking

Freezing

Meat

Do not set the frozen meat on a bench to defrost; place it in a refrigerator to cool down slowly. Frozen meat, especially, can breed bacteria quickly when out of safe temperature zones. Thoroughly cook all meats to eliminate any bacteria which might harm your customers.

Eggs and Dairy

Eggs and dairy can be frozen and thawed, but only with consideration to how freezing affects those foods. Nutritional value can be compromised and textures in regards to items like cheese can be affected. Eggs can be frozen so long as they’re not in their shells, as they will break. Never refreeze dairy products or eggs once they’ve been thawed.

Produce

Produce, such as fruit or vegetables, generally freeze well and retain their nutritional value once thawed. However, it’s important to note that texture and flavour can be affected if they are refrozen.

Managing Customer Allergies

If your hotel regularly serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as part of your hotel package, you’ll likely be aware of how important food allergies have become. An increasing number of Australians have mild reactions (food intolerances) or severe reactions (food allergies) to foods.

Common food allergens that can set off allergic reactions in your customers include:

  • Milk, dairy, or eggs
  • Seafood
  • Shellfish (particularly crustaceans, such as lobster, shrimp, crab)
  • Tree nuts
  • Peanuts

The main danger associated with customer allergies is the risk of anaphylaxis. For more detailed instructions on how to take care of customer allergies, including how to identify and deal with anaphylaxis, see our Food Safety Supervisor Guide to Managing Allergy Risks In Customers.

Personal Hygiene

One of the most crucial food safety regulations for the hotel food industry involves personal hygiene.

The first and most important rule for teaching staff personal hygiene is to instruct them to wash hands regularly and thoroughly to avoid transmitting potentially dangerous bacteria to food. The average human hand has about 150 types of bacteria at any given time.

To stop this bacteria from contaminating food or food surfaces, you must ensure all staff know how to wash their hands properly. This involves:

  • Putting soap on your hands and wetting them thoroughly
  • Vigorously rubbing your hands together to create a good lather
  • Lathering your hands, washing between your fingers, and cleaning under your fingernails for about 30 seconds
  • Rinsing all soap away thoroughly
  • Drying your hands with a clean paper towel and making sure they are thoroughly dry
  • Washing your hands with this technique every time after you use a restroom, sneeze or a cough

Hotel staff should also dress cleanly and professionally, covering or pinning back their hair if they deal closely with food.

Pest Control

Pests have always been a problem in the hotel food industry. Many hotel food service areas and hospitality establishments have been shut down or fined because inspectors found signs of rodent, flies or cockroach infestations. It is recommended that you arrange for your hotel to undertake annual or more frequent visits from pest control services to prevent such problems.

Power Outages

Power outages can not only be disruptive to guests; they can also endanger the safety of the food you serve to guests. These tips will help you know how to handle a power outage situation, for example in a storm or cyclone, to avoid spoiling your hotel’s food supply.

Be Prepared

  • Always ensure that your refrigerator is set to 5°C to ensure that the food in it stays as fresh as possible.
  • Make sure your pantry is well stocked with an alternative, non-perishable options – such as grains, bread, produce, and alternative dairy items – so that your guests have plenty to eat in case of an emergency.
  • Try to stock your freezer to full capacity, as a full freezer can retain its temperature well enough to preserve food for two days should a power outage occur. In contrast, a half-full freezer can only accomplish this for about 24 hours.

What To Do During Power Outages

When the power goes out, your first goal is to preserve the food inside of your fridge, freezer and cold storage room. To achieve this:

  • Keep the doors shut, as this helps to maintain cold temperatures to the greatest degree possible.
  • Track the time it takes for electricity to return. If the power is only out for a short burst of time, such as four hours or less, your refrigerated food will be safe to consume.
  • If more time than this elapses, do not serve your patrons food that could harm their wellbeing.
  • Double check the temperature inside your refrigerator once electricity returns.
  • If you’re in doubt about any items, it’s better to throw them out than to risk giving your patrons food poisoning.