Best Pest Control Practices

According to research conducted by Time Magazine  poor pest control was the 5th highest reason for foodborne illness in the restaurant sector.

Food premises are very attractive to a pest, because your establishment will contain everything they need, such as: food, warmth, moisture, and shelter. If they get in, they’ll be like a kid in a candy store, causing all sorts of problems for your business.

Here are the main problems and some best practices for you to keep in mind.

4 Main Type of Pests

Pests fall under 4 main groups, these are:

  1. Insects such as flies, moths, ants, cockroaches and wasps
  2. Stored product pests such as beetles, termites and weevils
  3. Rats, mice and racoons
  4. Birds


Here are some best practices to implement regularly to keep pests out and stop them from contaminating your food.

Clean as you go

Don’t give pests a sniff, just clean as you go! If you keep a clean workplace there will be a much lower chance of having a pest problem.

Clean as you go should be the motto for you and all of your staff – don’t give pests a chance to find food, so if you spill some food make sure it’s cleaned up immediately!

Pest proof your building

It’s also important to pest proof your building overall, this can sometimes be called denial of access – if you pest proof your building you will make it much less likely for pests to be able to gain access insider your building.

Regular inspections

Regularly inspect the building to check for evidence of pests. This ensures that you catch pests that might be hiding in your kitchen before they become too much of a nuisance.

Check deliveries

Make sure you check deliveries carefully - some pests have entered food premises in packaging, vegetables, fruit, cereals and grain.

Use proper food storage practices

Check stored goods regularly and rotate stock. Store food off the floor in suitable containers and keep food covered at all times to avoid pests getting in.

Don’t leave food out overnight

Never leave food in the preparation area when you are closed or overnight. This will just attract pests who could get into the food.

Report signs of pests

Report any sighting or signs of pests to your supervisor immediately. Signs include:

  • Damaged, torn, pierced or gnawed packaging
  • Droppings
  • Dead pest sightings
  • Gnaw marks
  • Unusual odors
  • Nesting
  • Unusual noise.

Keep trash contained

Having food waste out and open attracts pests into your facility. Store food waste in trash containers with securely fitting lids.

Keep doors and windows closed

Don’t give pests an easy way to enter your kitchen. Keep doors and windows closed unless you have correctly fitting screens.

What to do if you find pests

However, if the worst happens and you do get a pest in your premise, don’t wait, contact, they will eliminate any pests.

We recommend the use of PCO, as they are the experts.

Learn more about pest control best practices by taking our food handlers training.

Cooking Temperatures and Food Safety

When preparing food, it’s important that you understand what temperature different food groups need to be cooked at to keep your customers safe.

You must hit these temperatures and times as a minimum. A good control measure is setting their cooking temperatures at a higher level, for a longer time. Just to be safe!

Internal Cooking Temperature

Make sure food reaches the USDA minimum internal cooking temperature in order to reduce the amount of pathogenic bacteria to a safe level before serving.

Here are the recommended minimum internal cooking temperatures based off the 2017 FDA Food Code.

165°F for <1 second

This includes poultry, stuffing (made with poultry, meat, or fish), stuffed foods (pasta, poultry, meat, seafood), and all foods that include TCS Food ingredients that have been previously cooked.

155°F for 17 seconds

Ground meat, mechanically tenderized meat, ground seafood, and shell eggs to be hot held should all reach the temperature of 155°F for 17 seconds.

145°F for 15 seconds

145°F for 15 seconds is the recommended time held at this internal temperature for roasts, such as beef, pork, veal, and lamb. Check out our pdf guide for alternative cooking temperatures and times for roasts.

135°F for no minimum time

Hot food such as vegetables, grains, legumes, and fruit should be held at 135°F or higher to ensure that pathogenic bacteria do not multiply.

Hot Holding Food

The most important rule is to keep food at a minimum of 135°F or above, as well as stir food regularly to make sure all parts of the food stays at this temperature.

Best practices for hot holding

Don’t surpass maximum hold time

4 hours should be the maximum time you hold hot food.

Never mix new food and old food

Never add new food to old food! Make sure you throw the old food away, sanitize the serving dish and cutlery, and replace with new food.

Reheating Food

Reheating food incorrectly and not reaching the minimum internal temperature required means that a large amount of pathogenic bacteria can form, leading to foodborne illness.

Food must be reheated to 165°F for 15 seconds.

Best practices for reheating food

Keep food in cooler until ready

Only remove food from the cooler just before reheating.

Only reheat once

Never use hot holding equipment to reheat food more than once. You must throw away food after it has been re-heated once.

Cooling Hot Food

Cooling hot food is the biggest cause of foodborne illness in America.

That’s because going from hot to cold puts food in the Temperature Danger Zone, between 41°F - 140°F, where bacteria can multiply at an exponential rate.  

In most situations, 2 hours is too long for food to be left in the Temperature Danger Zone. We recommend doing cooling hot food within 30 minutes.

Best practices for cooling hot food

Use right containers

Whenever possible, use large, shallow trays and pans (two to three inches deep) for cooling food. The larger surface area helps to speed up the cooling process.

Divide food up

Divide hot food into smaller or thinner portions.

Use an ice bath

Transfer the hot food to a clean, cold container and place the container in a larger one that holds ice or water. Add new ice or cold water at regular intervals to speed up the process.

Stir food

Stir or rotate food while it is cooling.

Use the right container

After removing cooked roasts and whole chickens from their juices, transfer the food to a clean, cold container with enough space for air to circulate and make sure it is covered

Cover food while cooling

Cover and protect all food from cross-contamination while it is cooling.

Check temperature

Keep regularly checking the temperature of the food to make sure you do not leave it in the Temperature Danger Zone longer than necessary

Never put hot food in cooler

Never place hot food in a cooler as this will raise the temperature of the cooler and cause condensation that could cross-contaminate other foods.

Never cool food at room temperature

Never cool food at room temperature. This will leave food in the temperature danger zone for too long.


Learn more about how to monitor food temperature and avoid spreading foodborne illness in our Food Handlers training.

Tips for Sourcing Fresh Ingredients

“Buying Local” is a huge trend and as we see globalization continue to create longer and more complex food supply chains, it can be tough to source fresh ingredients to meet the needs of a restaurant.

Using locally sourced ingredients offers advantages for chefs and customers alike. Working directly with local farmers is a great way to boost the local economy and, cutting down on how far your meat and produce has to travel, will reduce your carbon footprint.

With the emphasis on Responsible Growth for businesses and the ever-popular “farm-to-table” movement that has consumers demanding for locally grown foods, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that sourcing local, fresh ingredients is more than a health trend; at this point, it’s business savvy.

So how can you stay competitive and still meet the bottom line? Here are some tips on sourcing fresh and local ingredients that will help you get started.

Hit up those Farmers Markets

The farmers market in your area is a great place to pick up the freshest produce and support the community. In addition, it’s an opportunity to form connections and network with the producers who have the ingredients you need.

Another perk is that even if a particular farmer doesn’t sell the produce or meat and dairy you need, chances are they can point you in the direction of someone who does. That’s the benefit of working within a community.

You can also develop connections with growers associations and cheese-maker guilds through networking at the farmers market.

After making those connections, you’ve opened the door to communicate with the producers during the off-season. You can discuss the ingredients you’ll want to buy in the future to ensure a plentiful supply of fresh, tasty food a few months down the line. Be specific about what you’ll be willing to purchase and the quantities you’re interested in.

Beginning Your New Restaurant Job: Tips for Starting Off Strong

There are few entry level positions that demand the ability to tussle with stress, manage priorities, and communicate efficiently like the ones you would find at a restaurant. However, if you have the knowledge to back up your natural skills, you can go far in the foodservice industry.

Here are some ways to get a leg up and start off your new job strong.

Show your manager you know your stuff

When starting a role, knowing some simple basics can put you in a manager’s good books early on.

If you’ve had any previous food safety training, let them know and apply your knowledge to this new position.

Get familiar with the menu

You should know what you are selling. Get familiar with the menu early on so you are aware of what your restaurant offers.

Also be sure to learn about any common allergens present in any of the dishes, so if a customer asks, you can give them an educated response.

Work together with your coworkers

Your new coworkers will have a wealth of knowledge, and you can learn a lot from them. Working together with your coworkers as a team keeps things running smoothly, and learn from more experienced coworkers along the way.

Whether it is Food Protection Manager, Food Handler, or Allergen Awareness training, we provide online, accredited training for you.

It's not just about peanuts

Do your staff know about the different allergens – do they really? Here’s a little cheat sheet to help you and your staff.

One in thirteen children are diagnosed with a life-threatening food allergy. With allergies in children increasing from 1997 to 2011 by 50% according to Food Allergy Research and Education, there are no signs that this will slow in the coming years. Food service industries, schools, and parents are attempting to track the different allergies and symptoms to prevent a vicious reaction.

In recognition of National Peanut month -the most prolific in growth of all food allergies, an extensive list of other food allergens to be on alert for was gathered here:


Around the globe, it has been argued that roughly 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. Most of the individuals that have the allergy do not suffer from a serious allergic reaction, not recognizing that they are lactose intolerant. With this much of the population having allergies to milk, there are many who have severe pain from ingesting milk and other dairy products.

Did you know casein, a protein found in milk, is often found in breath mints?


Although very rarely the cause of a life-threatening reaction, egg allergies affect children mostly and are outgrown over time.

Did you know that marshmallows often use egg whites instead of gelatin to help retain their shape?

Fish and Shellfish

Unlike eggs, fish and shellfish allergies are often developed in adulthood. Fish allergies are among the most often to be caused by cross-contamination,  A good fish restaurant can still be a place for people with allergies can go, it’s just vital that cross-contamination is halted and staff understand the dangers.

Watch for soy sauce! Common sauces and condiments use shellfish. Watch the ingredient list for soy sauce and Worcestershire.

Tree Nuts

Walnuts, almonds, and cashews are among the many tree nuts that cause this allergy. A person that is affected by the peanut allergen will have a reaction to these products as well.

Food isn’t the only dangerous category for those with tree nut allergies. Watch ingredient lists for soaps, lotions, and hair products. Gerbil food can also contain tree nuts.


Wheat contains gluten, and can be found in many products that a parent or person with the allergy may not expect, like: soy sauce, ketchup, soaps, and sunscreens. With it being such a common product, physicians may prescribe medication in the case that gluten is ingested or absorbed. It is generally advised to avoid products that contain these altogether.

In the instance of a reaction, all symptoms will be similar in that it will cause a tight throat, hives, and anaphylaxis in severe cases. The FDA requires that allergies be places on products that contain food allergens, but that should not prevent a thorough inspection of the ingredients for yourself.

Licorice has gluten. Salad dressings have gluten. It’s not just cake – seems like all the good things have gluten. But with more gluten-free options and more individuals looking for gluten-free alternatives, this is changing rapidly. Look for the Gluten Free symbol on your favorites.

The importance of Allergen Awareness training

Your staff understanding how to deal with an allergy sufferer is vital - if they don't, they could kill someone!

States are now becoming more aware of the importance of allergen training, it is now a legal requirement in the following states for at least one member of staff to be trained.

States where Allergen Awareness training is a legal requirement:

4 Food Storage & Safety Procedures Every Food Handler Should Know

According to the latest research about food waste, over 40% of the U.S food supply is never consumed.

The most common reasons for this food waste is that restaurants are not sure how to store food, what food can be refrigerated, and the best use of their food.

Proper food storage involves having procedures to ensure that all of the food gets used up before it expires as well as storing it at the right temperature and location. Knowledge of proper food storage is not only important for restaurants to ensure the health of diners, but it’s also critical for food handler certification and employment.

Below are a few tips for every food handler or restaurant manager should know when it comes to food storage and safety.

1. Follow Stock Rotation Rules

Let’s talk about stock rotation. Stock rotation is the practice of moving products with earlier expiration dates forward to prevent food spoilage. Following stock rotation rules ensures that food doesn’t have to be thrown out because it wasn’t used before it expired. When following stock rotation rules, remember the acronym FIFO—first-in, first-out!

Use the shortest shelf life items first.

When using food that you have in stock for cooking or meal preparation, it’s important to use those items with the shortest shelf life first. That way, older ingredients won’t expire and go to waste.

Place items with the shortest shelf lives up front

When storing or displaying food, always put the stock with the shortest shelf life at the front. You will be able to see it more easily, and it will be cooked with first.

2. Use Recommended Refrigeration Temperatures

Keeping your refrigerator at the recommended temperature is crucial in preserving food and preventing pathogenic bacteria from multiplying. Here are some helpful safety tips to keep in mind when refrigerating food.

Take special care of high-risk foods

High risk time and temperature control (TCS) foods, such as milk, eggs, shellfish, fish and meats, must be refrigerated – they are the main priority.

It’s important to understand that keeping raw and TCS foods at 41°F or below will prevent or slow down pathogenic bacterial multiplication. Remember, the trick is to ensure that you keep food out of the Temperature Danger Zone. Anything over 41°F bacteria to multiply at a rapid speed.

Aside from high risk TCS foods, here is a list of perishable items that should be refrigerated at 41°F:

  • Cooked meats, such as salami or ham
  • Pies and pates
  • Coleslaw, cottage cheese, and sandwich fillings
  • Vacuum packed raw meat, poultry, and fish
  • Anything labeled for refrigeration, such as bottled sauces without preservatives
  • Prepared salads

Make sure that these foods are not left out for more than 2 hours. Bacteria could multiply to dangerous levels and cause foodborne illnesses.

Transfer and cover the contents of open cans

The contents of opened cans should be refrigerated once they have been transferred to suitable storage containers. Never put an opened metal tin of food in the cooler. The metal will rust quickly and cause chemical contamination.

Refrigerate vegetables and fruits

Some vegetables and fruits can be refrigerated if desired, but make sure that they are separated from other foods. Mixing produce with other food stock can result in … (contamination?)

3. Store Food in Coolers Correctly

Understanding how to stack food in a cooler correctly can reduce risks of cross contamination, keep food fresher for longer, and ultimately save you time and money as you will be able to get longer use out of your food inventory.

Below are a few best practices for safe food storage in coolers.

Store raw meat and poultry separately

Always store raw meat and poultry on shelves below other food so that blood or juices cannot drip onto other foods and cross-contaminate them.

Allow space for air circulation

Don’t overcrowd your cooler (the same goes for your refrigerator). Allow enough room around the food for air to circulate. This way, the cooler will be able to operate efficiently and maintain its target temperature.

Keep the cooler door shut

Do not leave cooler doors open any longer than necessary. Otherwise, the temperature inside the cooler will rise, putting food at risk for rapid bacteria growth.

Do not put hot food in the cooler

Unless you have a separate cooler, do not put hot food in a cooler as this will raise the temperature inside and may cause condensation, which can cause cross-contamination by dripping moisture onto other food.

4. Label Food Accurately and In Detail

Labelling food items before storing them lets a food handler know when the food needs to be used by. Below is a breakdown of how you should label different types of food:

  • Highly perishable packaged food, such as cooked meat, fish and dairy products, should be marked with a Use By date.
  • All ready-to-eat food that is prepared in-house must have a label that includes the name of the food and a Use By or expiration date.
  • Less perishable items, such as dried fruit, flour, chips, cereals and canned food, should have a Best Before date.

Tips on When to Throw Out Food

Following these food safety procedures will ensure that less food gets thrown out, but some food will inevitably go bad and need to be thrown out. Here are some

  • The FDA says that prepared food and leftovers must be thrown out after 7 days maximum.
  • If a TCS food is left out of the refrigerator for over 2 hours, you must throw it out.
  • If the food is past the use by date, it is time to discard.

To learn more about proper food storage techniques, as well as other food safety tips, enroll in our food handler course.

You can also watch this quick video more more details.

Barbecue Food Safety

With summer just around the corner, people will be pulling out their grills. Cooked well, BBQ is tasty and perfect for any outdoor gathering, but there are still food safety risks that come with it—namely in regards to temperature abuse.

Bacteria grows most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, also known as the temperature danger zone, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes.

When pathogens grow at these temperatures, they are harmful and can make you very ill.

While this may sound scary, it is easily preventable. Follow these tips for a safe summer BBQ.

Store Food Until Ready to Cook

Store cold food at 41°F or lower and prepare the food ideally within 30 minutes. If not, put it back in the cooler.

Cook Food Thoroughly

Cook food to its recommended minimum internal cooking temperature. Below are the recommended temperatures some common grilling items:







Hot Dogs


Pork Chops


More questions about minimum internal cooking temperatures? This PDF lays out all recommended internal cooking temperatures.

Don’t Leave Food Out

Don’t just leave your food just sitting out. Serve the food within 20 minutes, or hold it hot at above 135°F. If not eating, transfer it back to a cooler as soon as possible.

Learn more about keeping food out of the temperature danger zone and much more by taking our Food Handlers certification course.

Seafood Safety in 4 Easy Steps

Seafood is becoming ever more popular among restaurant goers. However, from a food safety viewpoint, it is one type of food that can put customers at risk, without proper food hygiene training.

Over the past few weeks, there have been public health officials warning of increasing dangers from foodborne bacteria in raw and undercooked shellfish as summer approaches.

With seafood being a high-risk food, there are several things you can do to greatly reduce the chance of foodborne illness. Here are 4 easy steps you can take to reduce the risk of spreading a foodborne illness to your customers when serving seafood.

Wash Your Hands Properly

Wash your hands, properly! This may sound obvious, but you’ll be surprised at the amount of people who don’t know how to wash their hands properly. Below is the simple 6 step guide.

  1. Wet your hands with warm running water and apply soap
  2. Rub your hands together palm to palm to make a lather
  3. Rub the palm of one hand along the back of the other and along the fingers. Repeat with the other hand
  4. Put your palms together with fingers interlocked and rub in between each of the fingers thoroughly.
  5. Rub around your thumbs on each hand and then rub the fingertips of each hand against your palms.
  6. Rinse off the soap with clean water and dry your hands thoroughly on a disposable towel. Turn off the tap with the towel and then throw the towel away.

Prevent Cross-Contamination

Food prep, things to remember - With food preparation, there are a few simple steps to minimize cross-contamination, which is a huge reason for many cases of foodborne illnesses. Below are just a few things to remember:

Sanitize your chopping boards after every use

Warm water and soap will not kill all bacteria on your chopping board after handling raw meat or seafood, so it’s important you clean all areas including chopping boards, work surface, knifes, etc. properly with hot water and sanitizer.

Use different chopping boards for different food groups

To stop cross-contamination, we recommend using different chopping boards for different food types. Below is an example of how you could use different colors to represent different food groups.

  • White - bakery and dairy products
  • Yellow - cooked meat
  • Brown - root vegetables
  • Red - raw meat
  • Blue - raw fish
  • Green - salad, fruit, and fresh vegetables

Avoid The Temperature Danger Zone

It’s important as someone who works in the food industry to understand how to heat and refrigerate food correctly so that food does not remain in the temperature danger zone (40°F - 140°F), and pathogenic bacteria do not have the chance to multiply.

Eat shellfish promptly after cooking

Don’t allow shellfish the chance to enter the temperature danger zone before consumption. Take it out to diners quickly after it is done cooking.

Refrigerate leftovers

Recommend that diners get their leftovers into their refrigerator as soon as they get home to keep food from being in the temperature danger zone for too long.

Be Aware of Fish and Shellfish Allergies

Both fish and shellfish are both considered one of the 8 main allergens, which are 8 food groups that are responsible for 90% of allergenic reactions.

It’s important to prevent cross-contact by storing allergens separately from one another, cleaning and sanitizing your equipment, and properly labelling any hidden allergens on your menu.

Need help with your restaurant's food safety? Take a look at our Food Handler, Allergen Awareness, and Food Protection Manager certifications.