The health departments in some cities around the country, including New York City, award letter grades to restaurants — A, B, C, and so on — based on how safe their food handling practices are. But virtually every municipality (or county) subjects its eating places — everything from snack bars to the fanciest temples of haute cuisine — to rigorous random inspections. One minor slip-up (food stored at the wrong temperature, cross-contamination, etc.) can mean lawsuits, restaurant closings, even loss of life.
Although nobody holds home cooks to the same safety standards our favorite restaurants must meet, that doesn’t mean that we can afford to ignore sound safety practices in our own kitchens. This month, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) is observing its 18th annual National Food Safety Month, created to heighten awareness of food safety in the restaurant industry, and this year they’re expanding their efforts to consumers by taking a look at the home cook’s safety standards as well.
Food safety isn't news to home cooks. A recent study conducted by the International Food Information Council found that 85 percent of consumers surveyed have thought about food safety this year, but that a number of those people do not always put proper practices into action. As a result of their findings, the NRA put out an infographic that demonstrates what consumers know (or think they know) about food safety in their own kitchens. Essentially, they found that we care about food safety in their homes, but don't observe proper procedures anywhere near often enough.
At The Daily Meal, we felt it was time to examine our own food safety practices. With the help of experts from the NRA, we’ve developed a thorough, health pepartment-certified list of practices that can often be overlooked but are absolutely essential if you'd want your kitchen to be able to pass a safety and sanitation inspection.
Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce
This post was originally published on September 19, 2012.