Top 10 Food
As you look around to make yet
another New Year’s resolution, let us suggest making one for
food safety reasons. Houston Department of Health and Human
Services sanitarians inspect food establishments in the city
of Houston. They have compiled a list that allows you to be
ready for his/her next surprise inspection!
Do whatever you
can to comply with these items and chances are that you may
be on next year’s Blue Ribbon Award. Here they are in the order.
All ready-to-eat foods are marked with preparation date and
If you prepare an
item that is ready-to-eat and held for over 24 hours in your
food establishment, mark the potentially hazardous food with
two dates – preparation or opening date and disposition or consume-by
date. You may use 7 days for 41°F storage temperature and use
4 days for storage at 45°F.
Store wiping cloths in the sanitizing solution.
If you use wiping
cloths, make sure that you provide a bucket with sanitizing
solution (50 ppm of available chlorine) to keep those wiping
cloths in between uses.
Have employee wear effective hair restraint.
If you handle, prepare
foods (Even if you are the manager) or if you wash utensils
– YOU MUST WEAR AN EFFECTIVE hair restraint! A simple cap, chef’s
hat, hair net, etc. may be adequate to keep the hair out of
food and the fingers out of the hair.
Employee drinking or eating in the kitchen.
Tell your employees
to go out in the dining area and take
a drinking/eating break rather than in the kitchen. It is OK
if employees use a "contamination-free" process of
drinking beverages from a closed and non-spillable container.
Improper holding temperatures.
IT HOT (140°F or above)
KEEP IT COLD (41°F or
below) OR DON’T KEEP IT!
Improper sequence of sanitizing utensils
It is WASH –
RINSE – SANITIZE and AIR-DRY
Wash with soap and
water in the first compartment sink, rinse with clean water
in the second compartment and rinse with sanitizer solution
in the third compartment. Please keep cloth towels away so the
employees allow the utensils and dishes to air dry. If you use
dishwashing machine, make sure it is dispensing proper sanitizer
or providing at least 160°F hot water for final rinse.
Improper cooling of cooked foods.
Once cooked to its
proper temperatures, all foods must be cooled rapidly. You have
six hours for bringing the hot foods to 45°F / 41°F (140 to
70 in 2 hours and 70 to 41/45 in additional 4 hours). Use ice
bath, rapid chillers, stirring, shallow containers, adding ice
as an ingredient, etc.
Foods not kept covered during storage.
All foods in storage
must be covered. Use containers with a lid, plastic wrap, foil
wrap, etc. If cooling periods are properly documented and explained
to the sanitarian, you are allowed to keep food containers open
during the required period for cooling cooked foods. Once cooled,
please cover those containers in the refrigerators.
Improper hand washing.
Wash your hands
as often as needed during the day. Use the handwashing sink
to wash your hands after eating, drinking, smoking, touching
garbage, visiting restrooms, handling soiled containers, switching
from raw foods to cooked foods, etc. If you must handle ready-to-eat
foods with your bare hands, use disposable gloves OR proper
utensils OR apply approved hand sanitizer to your bare hands
before touching that ready-to-eat food.
And the number one
item on the sanitarian’s list is:
No certified manager on duty.
Food Ordinance requires a food service manager on duty at all
times. This violation is the most documented item on the inspection
reports. Please get the managers certified by attending either
the one-day renewal course or the two-day initial food service
manager’s certification course. If you have taken a nationally
accredited course, all you have to do is come into the office
to receive a reciprocity certificate for a fee of $10. Don’t
forget to bring the proof with you. Call 713-794-9200 to make
reservation for the class. We have this program available in
five languages: English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean.
this, or any food-safety-related information, please contact
H. Bhatt, Division Manager of Bureau
of Consumer Health Services at 713/794-9200.
the HDHHS Bureau of Consumer Health Services