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9/24/2013 - Key steps to take in the kitchen

Kitchen safety should be a prime area of concern for restaurant owners nationwide.

If a top concern of restaurateurs wasn't food safety, they'd quickly find themselves without a job. And as prevailing an issue as the quality and consistency of food that's served in eateries may be, its importance can't be overstated.

With September being National Food Safety Month, the Food Safety Consortium at Iowa State University offers some crucial reminders to be aware of when preparing meals and storing foods.

Freshness not only requires proper handling, but a safe environment for food to be stored. Thus, the refrigerator should be kept at a temperature that's a maximum of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Coldness limits the growth of bacteria, which can contribute to food-borne illnesses.

Though sell-by dates can be used as a guideline for when food and drinks have gone past their prime freshness, there are occasions wherein food can go bad before that date. As a general rule, it's best to place a date on packaged and opened goods to serve as a reminder. If after two to three days they haven't been used, it's best to toss them out.

Clean-up is a critical component of food safety, but the items used to clean can become dirtied as well. Safety experts at ISU recommend using approximately one teaspoon of chlorine bleach mixed with water and a sanitizing agent every couple of weeks on sponges, dish cloths and rags. In addition, paper towels that can be thrown away after one use should be used with regularity as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year approximately 48 million people in the U.S. alone get sick after eating food that has been handled improperly or contaminated. Selective offers restaurateurs businessowners insurance protection to arm themselves in the event of a food-borne illness outbreak that's affected an independent eatery or chain's food supply.

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