As hurricane season approaches, restaurant owners must be vigilant about food safety during potential power outages. When severe weather strikes, power failures can disrupt daily operations and jeopardize food quality. Upholding food safety is pivotal for both customers’ well-being and preserving your establishment’s reputation.
Read on as we outline key measures to prepare your restaurant for power outages and sustain food safety throughout and after such instances.
Review and Update Emergency Plans
Develop a comprehensive emergency plan that includes procedures for power outages and outlines specific roles and responsibilities for staff members. Having a written plan, as recommended by the FDA, ensures everyone knows what to do when the unexpected occurs.
Stock Up on Non-Perishable Food
Prioritize stocking up on non-perishable food items that can be used during power outages. Canned goods and dry items that don’t require refrigeration are ideal to sustain your restaurant during emergencies.
Secure Backup Power Sources
Consider investing in generators or backup power sources to keep essential equipment running during an outage. This will help maintain critical refrigeration and cooking capabilities, minimizing the risk of food spoilage.
During the Power Outage: Stay Calm and Act Safely
During a power outage, remain calm and take to the following steps:
Limit Access to Refrigerators and Freezers
To preserve the internal temperature of refrigerators and freezers, avoid frequently opening them during power outages. This helps extend the freshness of perishable items and prevents potential spoilage, as suggested by the FDA.
Monitor Food Temperatures
Keep a log of food temperatures to ensure perishable items remain within safe ranges. The FDA recommends discarding any perishable food that has been above 40°F for more than two hours to prevent bacterial growth.
Temporary Food Storage
Use coolers with ice packs to temporarily store perishable items. Group similar items together in containers to minimize temperature fluctuations and make monitoring easier.
After the Power is Restored: Assess and Dispose
Check Food Safety
When the power comes back on, check the temperature of the appliance thermometer that was kept in the freezer. If the temperature stayed at 40°F or below, the food is still safe and can be refrozen. If an appliance thermometer was not kept in the freezer, inspect each food item thoroughly. The food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40ׄ°F or below.
Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the refrigerator doors were kept closed and the power was out no longer than 4 hours. Any TCS foods that have been held above 40°F for more than 2 hours should be discarded.
Clean and Sanitize
After a power outage, clean and sanitize all food contact surfaces, equipment, and utensils. This will prevent potential contamination and ensure a safe food preparation environment, as recommended by the FDA.
Communicate with Customers
Transparently communicate with your customers about the situation, the steps taken, and any necessary menu adjustments resulting from the power outage.
At TSC Associates, we are committed to the safety and success of your restaurant and your staff. Our team of experts is always here to support you in navigating through emergencies like power outages during hurricane season. Stay prepared and prioritize food safety to protect your customers and your business by taking our Servsafe Food Manager and Servsafe Food Handler certifications, and contact us today if you have any questions.