Food Contamination at Your Bar Can be More Dangerous than Alcohol

Many bar owners are so concerned about their liability issues concerning alcohol that they often overlook another very serious concern: food borne illness. For example, lemons need to be washed thoroughly before used as a garnish in a drink, but they’re not the only items that can spread food borne illness from behind the bar. As a bar owner you need to be concerned about food products you sell, as well as the cleanliness of employees handling these items.

“There are a lot of food borne illnesses that can be transferred through employees’ hands alone – E. coli, norovirus, even Hepatitis A,” says Cynthia L. Parenteau, a food safety consultant with Boston-based Berger Food Safety Consulting. The first key to protecting guests from illness is making sure that all employees wash their hands. And of course if someone does get ill, and decides to sue, you’re going to need food contamination insurance.

Dangers exist throughout the workplace

Still, there are other ways to experience food contamination. The ice machine, for example, can transmit dangerous bacteria to people drinking from clean glasses, causing yet another unsafe condition. This further underscores the necessity of wash your hands: Once your unkempt hand goes into the ice bin, the ice becomes dirty.

Also, never put a glass into the ice bin to get ice for a beverage; always use a clean ice scoop. Consider the real possibility that the glass could get chipped inside the ice bin without you or the staff noticing, and glass chips could be scooped up and served in the next cocktail.

If you serve snacks or hot food items they should all be rigorously inspected and handled with disposable sanitary gloves.

Prevention is worth a pound of cure and no one wants their business to be shut down for violating health and safety codes. What’s more, be sure you have the proper food contamination insurance to reflect your specific needs and exposures.

photo credit: Kake Pugh cc

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