Foodborne Illnesses & How You Can Prevent Them

Lindsey Mabrey on October 9, 2017 at 10:50 AM

Food safety is of utmost importance in the restaurant business. You have a responsibility to provide safe food to your customers. How can you prevent foodborne illnesses? While there are many ways to protect your brand from a food safety crisis, here a few foodborne illnesses that can be prevented with proper temperature monitoring.

Clostridium perfringens

What is it?

Clostridium perfringens is a gram-positive bacteria that forms spores. It is closely related to the bacteria that causes botulism. It is the most common cause of food poisoning, and one million people are sickened by this bacteria every year.

What causes it?

C. perfringens can be found everywhere, especially the intestinal tract. It is found on raw meat and poultry. It can also be found on cooked beef, gravy and dried or other food.

How do you prevent it?

C. perfringens is temperature sensitive. C. perfringens typically infects food that is made in big batches or kept warm for more than two hours. Here are tips:

  • Cook meat to the proper temperature. Keep meat thermometers on hand for your chefs.
  • Keep hot food above 140 degrees. Use a wireless food thermometer to accurately record temperatures, without having your chefs manually do so.
  • Keep cold food below 40 degrees. Wireless temperature sensors can be placed inside your fridge so you always know cold food is at the right temperature. Install sensors that send alerts to your phone or email for when you're not there to manually check yourself.

Staphylococcus aureus

What is it?

S. aureus is a gram-positive bacteria that up to 25 percent of the population carries. This bacteria usually does not make people sick unless it contaminates food or infects a wound.

What causes it?

S. aureus contaminates food when food handlers do not frequently wash their hands. S. aureus grows on the food and produces toxins that cannot be killed by heating. The toxins cause the food poisoning. S. aureus can also be found in food that is not cooked before serving. Examples include salads, especially mayo-based salad like potato and macaroni salads. Other examples include sandwiches, puddings and pastries.

How do you prevent it?

Urge your chefs and kitchen staff to wash their hands. Keep hand soap at the kitchen sinks and hand sanitizer within reach of every food prep and cooking station. According to the FDA, foods that are not cooked should always be kept below 40 degrees or disposed of if they have sat at room temperature for longer than two hours. Wireless temperature-monitoring systems can track how long foods have been in the danger zone and can alert you if your inventory needs to be thrown out.

Bacillus cereus

What is it?

Like S. aureus, Bacillus cereus is a toxin-producing bacteria that can contaminate food. Its toxins also cannot be killed with heat, so it’s important to prevent the growth of this bacteria.

What causes it?

B. cereus grows quickly at room temperature, so it is most commonly found on food that has been left out too long. It usually grows on rice, sauces and soups.

How do you prevent it?

Use a remote temperature-monitoring system to track food temperature. Temperature monitoring will also tell your chefs how long food has been sitting at room temperature. Food should be refrigerated to 40 degrees or below within two hours. Rice should be stored in a shallow container and refrigerated immediately.

With the right training and equipment, your chefs and kitchen staff can prevent these three common foodborne illnesses.

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