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Food Safety Standards: Keeping Your Customers And Your Business Safe

Running a food business is incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with meeting many responsibilities before your customers can enjoy your food—and paying constant attention to the ongoing regulations and legislation that food retailers and manufacturers across the U.S. must adopt is one of them.

From keeping fresh and cooked food at exact temperatures to impeccable warehouse cleanliness, feeding the country safely is hard work. In fact, the CDC estimates that each year, 1 in 6 Americans get sick from contaminated food or beverages, and 3,000 die from foodborne illness. While foodborne illness is relatively common, it is also costly, dangerous, potentially catastrophic for food businesses, and totally preventable.

Part of our job requires keeping a keen eye on the latest developments in food safety regulations, constantly developing new solutions to meet those standards, and ensuring our partners benefit wholly from our efforts. In this article, we’ll delve into everything you need to know to ensure your business stays ahead of the game and your food is safe to consume—and how Intelligent Foods can help you easily and confidently do both.


Food-Safe Temperatures 101

Food-safe temperatures refer to the specific temperature ranges at which various types of food should be stored, cooked, and served to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and ensure food safety. While this seems simple, finding the food-safe temperature sweet spot can be a little tricky, depending on the kind of food you work with.

When it comes to keeping your food cool, it is best to refrigerate at 40°F (4°C) or below to slow the growth of bacteria. This temperature range helps keep perishable foods fresh for longer periods. For freezing, the FDA recommends 0°F (-18°C) or below to keep frozen foods safe for consumption. 

Cooking temperatures can be slightly more challenging and require careful staff training. The following foods must be cooked to standardized internal temperatures to ensure that harmful bacteria are killed:

  • Poultry (including ground poultry): 165°F (74°C)
  • Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb, veal): 160°F (71°C)
  • Whole cuts of meat (beef, pork, lamb, veal): 145°F (63°C) with a three-minute rest time
    Seafood: 145°F (63°C)
  • Eggs: Cook until the yolk and white are firm
  • Leftovers and casseroles: Reheat to 165°F (74°C)

Did You Know?

Whole cuts of meat, such as beef and lamb, are commonly consumed at a range of temperatures: rare, medium, well-done, etc. A medium-rare steak is cooked to 130-135°C, which is well below the FDA-recommended safe internal temperature for meat; and yet, it’s considered the most desireable way to eat a steak or burger! So how do you prefer to eat your meat?

Our Food Safety Certifications

Food certification standards hold your business accountable to the health and safety of the people who enjoy your food and create a sense of trust in your customers. The following are the most regulated and respected certification standards that Intelligent Foods holds and that we recommend any food business get approval from:

USDA Organic

Whether you’re already certified organic or considering transitioning all or part of your operation to working with organic producers, a label from USDA Organic indicates that your food product has been produced according to the USDA organic standards. These safety standards require operations to use practices that cycle resources, conserve biodiversity, and preserve ecological balance. Not to mention that as consumer buying habits continue to align strongly with organic products, promoting your food as USDA Organic compliant can be an important part of your marketing strategy.


The British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standard for Food Safety is one of the most prominent certification standards and has been adopted by food retailers and manufacturers worldwide. Setting the benchmark for nearly 25 years, a BRC stamp of approval ensures product safety, integrity, legality, and quality.


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the most recognizable food certification standard. Since 1906, the FDA has protected public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of our nation’s food supply. To this day, the FDA remains one of the most widely trusted sources regarding nearly everything we put into our bodies.


Another certification standard geared towards organic food is the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). The CCOF is a United States Department of Agriculture-accredited organic certifying agency and trade association that advances organic agriculture for a healthy world through organic certification, education, advocacy, and promotion.

Cleaning And Sanitizing Practices In Food Preparation Spaces

Implementing effective cleaning and disinfecting practices is crucial for maintaining food safety standards in any food business. Your prep spaces are subject to more contamination than anywhere else during the manufacturing process, making this a crucial part of your operations.

One big mistake we see food warehouses make is assuming that if a food-contact surface is visibly clean, it’s also sanitary. Still, bacteria such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli (E. coli) are resistant to soaps and detergents. So, no matter how clean your space “looks,” it doesn’t mean it’s fully sanitized.

It is generally regarded as best practice for food businesses to employ soaps/detergents and bacteria-killing disinfectants to ensure a prep space is fully sanitized. While no regulatory agency governs the cleaning and sanitizing chemicals used by the food industry, be sure to use only cleaning products formulated with chemicals that reduce bacterial numbers to the safest levels possible.

Dress Codes for Food Service Employees

In the food industry, employee dress codes go far beyond aesthetics and creating a polished look. They are also an essential practice for maintaining hygiene standards.

The dress code for each food service employee may vary depending on their role. Generally, the employee must wear clean work clothes, an apron, non-slip closed-toe work shoes, and an approved hair restraint. They should also use disposable work gloves when handling food directly. In this case, food service employees must learn the proper use of single-use gloves to avoid cross-contamination.

Employees should avoid wearing excessive jewelry, especially on hands and wrists, as it can be a breeding ground for bacteria and pose a contamination risk. They should also maintain good personal hygiene practices, including regular handwashing and grooming. Fingernails should be kept short and clean to prevent the harboring of dirt and bacteria. 


Protect Your Customers (and Your Business) With Intelligent Foods

Following global safety standards and regulations is imperative not only for the well-being of your customers but also to protect your business. Failing to comply with these necessary food safety laws means your food business is at risk of being fined, prosecuted, or even shut down.

At Intelligent Foods, our state-of-the-art commercial kitchens and facilities are designed and certified to meet the highest quality and safety standards. Partnering with us ensures your food products are safe to consume, leaving you with better peace of mind as you focus on building your brand. Connect with us today to learn more about how Intelligent Foods can be your partner in food!


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