No matter how well kept the links in the food safety chain are, there’s always a weak link (or links) somewhere. For instance, if food handling at the restaurant is not up to snuff with food safety practices, you can bet your coleslaw that food will get contaminated before it lands on the customer’s plate. Fortunately, a contaminated food item can be intercepted and taken off at any point in the chain before it reaches a consumer and cause a food-borne illness. One of the best points in the chain to do that is where the supplier hands off the food item to the food establishment—at your restaurant’s delivery platform.
So, when receiving food shipments what should you look out for?
Things to lookout for in Receiving Food Shipments
For starters, pay close attention to the timeliness of delivery. Food deliveries should always be made in a timely manner. This not only makes for good business but also makes for healthy, safe servings. When food is not delivered on time, it increases the chances that it will stray into an unsafe range of temperatures while in transit or while out of storage. Also, food items should conform to FIFO in food safety. That is, food that goes into storage should be first in, first out. That way, the old stock gets used first and the likelihood of spoilage is reduced.
- Temperature is another critical aspect. Bacterial growth thrives in a particular temperature range. The longer food stays in that range, the faster microorganisms multiply, and the more dangerous the food item becomes to human health. That’s why temperature checks in food safety are critical. Shellfish (mussels, clams, oysters, scallops) for instance, should be 45 degrees F or colder when delivered. Any higher, the delivery should be rejected by the food manager.
- There’s also appearance. You don’t rely on any device such as a thermometer or a watch for this one; you simply use your senses. If the food item doesn’t look right—if the packaging is damaged or has leak stains or looks moldy or the color is off, reject it. If it doesn’t smell right—if it smells moldy, abnormal or outright bad, reject it. If it’s not right to the touch—if it has the wrong consistency or is too slushy, reject it.
In addition, examine the delivery conditions.
- The delivery vehicle should look properly maintained outside and tidy and clean inside. The vehicle’s physical condition reflects the quality of food handling. If the vehicle’s unkempt, chances are the food handling has been sloppy and the delivery might already be contaminated—a prime candidate for food-borne illness exhibit number 1.
4-5. Finally, damage or tampering. Everything—timeliness, temperature, appearance, vehicle—might check out fine, but if the delivery records and the items don’t check out, or if a container looks like it has been opened or dented, or if a seal is broken, reject the delivery.
Keeping an eye on these critical factors will not only protect your establishment from potential liability but also save your budget as you won’t be paying for food that cannot be served. To learn more about food safety in the restaurant setting, visit Learn2Serve.com and enroll in a fully online Food Safety Manager Training and Certification courses.
Source: TABC Blog by Learn 2 Serve