6 Basics of Food Safety

When you’re in the foodservice industry, it takes immense attention to detail in order to shop, store, prepare and cook, and serve food in such a way that prevents any possible contamination. Whatever your position is, whether it’s a restaurant manager, chef, FOH, or BOH, there are some basics of food safety that everyone must know.

At Nutri-Rific, we offer ServSafe online courses that train and educate our students on all things relevant to the foodservice industry, from microbiology to contamination to food preparation to pest management, and so much more. Our online and in-person classes are dedicated to providing students with hands-on training, classroom experience, and problem solving skills in order for them to be the best in their industry.

If you’re considering getting into the foodservice industry, or want to continue your education, get in touch with the team at Nutri-Rific and sign up for a ServSafe online course today. To start, here is a basic introduction to food safety.

Essential Basics

  • Clean — Keep not just your hands clean by washing them frequently, but regularly wash all surfaces, including countertops, tabletops, cutting boards, and utensils.
  • Separate — Avoid cross-contamination by separating meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and fruits and vegetables.
  • Cook — Each food needs to be cooked to the correct temperature.
  • Chill — Foods need to be refrigerated in a timely manner or kept hot.


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Perishable foods need to be refrigerated within two hours after cooking, and within one hour when the temperature of the food is above 90 °F. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to ensure that temperature remains at a constant level. The refrigerator needs to be 40 °F or lower, and the freezer needs to be at 0 °F or lower.

Perishable stored foods, such as chicken and ground meat should be cooked within two days and beef, lamb, or pork needs to be cooked within three to five days. All foods need to be securely wrapped and placed at the bottom of the refrigerator or freezer so that juice doesn’t drip onto other foods.

Nonperishable foods, like cans, can be stored up to their “Use-By” date. Any cans that are dented, swollen, or rusty should be thrown away. Certain cans of food, like tomatoes and fruits can be stored between 12 and 18 months, vegetables can be stored for between two and five years.


Before you come in contact with the food, wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Cutting surfaces and utensils, whether you’re preparing poultry, beef, seafood, or vegetables, should be thoroughly washed and sanitized right after use. Use a solution of one tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in one gallon of water to sanitize cutting boards, utensils, and countertops.


There are several methods for thawing foods, including:

  • Refrigerator: This is one of the safest methods as the food slowly thaws. Keep all of the food protected by keeping meat and poultry wrapped so that juices don’t drip.
  • Cold Water: A faster option, place food in a sealed plastic bag and completely submerge in cold water. Switch out the water every 30 minutes to ensure that the food remains cold as it thaws. Cook right away after it is completely thawed.
  • Microwave: Read the directions on the microwave closely to ensure safe thawing and cook right away after it’s thawed.


Beef, pork, lamb, veal, chops, and roasts should be cooked to a minimum of 145 °F. Let these foods rest for at least three minutes before cutting or eating. For ground foods, these should be cooked to a minimum of 160 °F. Poultry should be cooked to a minimum of 165 °F.


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When serving hot food, it should be kept at a temperature of 140 °F or warmer, cold foods need to be kept at 40 °F or colder. In a buffet situation, chafing dishes, slow cookers, or warming trays should be used to keep the food hot. Cold food should be kept in a dish and placed in a container of ice or served on trays and replaced at least every two hours.

These basic food safety standards is a simple introduction into what Nutri-Rific will teach our students through ServSafe online courses. As each class goes more and more into the food handling requirements, you will learn about requirements for each type of food, more specific information on how to avoid cross-contamination, methods of cooking, and more.

To sign up for a food safety class through Nutri-Rific, shop our ServSafe online course here. And if you have any questions about our classes or exams, we’re more than happy to help you out.