Ensuring your team members are taking the right precautions during the Coronavirus pandemic is critical if you are staying open.  Every café and restaurant can benefit from a re-training and refresh in food safety, and sanitation standards.  Ensure your team is ready and can answer these critical questions below in regards to food safety.  Having the proper training, knowledge and execution of these food safety guidelines is critical to prevent allergic reactions or illness.

  • What are the 5 illness symptoms that would exclude a team member from working?

No-one should work when they are experiencing, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, sore throat or have any open wounds on hands wrists or arms.  Any team members with these above issues should let their management team know ahead of their shift and not work.   

  •  What do you do if a customer or team member has diarrhea of vomit in the café, restaurant or washrooms?

Bio-hazards from customers can sometimes happen, ensure your team has the proper equipment to clean up and ensure safety of them and other customers.  If uncomfortable cleaning, put in place proper protocol for safety of your team.  Some companies have engaged with professional cleaning companies to be on call should their business experience this, so the proper professional team can handle these biohazards and ensure everyone is safe.

  •  When are you as a team member to wash your hands and for how long?

Hand-washing is critical when cleaning your café or restaurant and especially during this virus.  It is recommended for employees to wash their hands often and after completing cleanliness activities, cleaning guest areas.  Hands can become contaminated during the course of normal work activities.  Be aware.  Hand-washing removes contamination before it can be passed on to food or food equipment.  

  • What is cross-contamination and how is it prevented?

Cross contamination is when a team member touches a food contact surface or single-use item and contaminates it.  Ensure your team knows how and where to handle these items and provide gloves when contact may be needed.  Tongs work well in the workplace but must be cleaned often to avoid cross-contamination between foods and high-allergen items.   If you touch a food contact surface, either discard (if single use) or clean and sanitize before re-use.

  • What are temperature-controlled foods?

TCS Foods are those foods that are capable of supporting the rapid growth of microorganisms that can cause foodborne illness.  Examples of TCS foods that may be found in a typical café?

  • Dairy products, including whipped cream · Yogurt · Open containers of soy milk · Sandwiches · Eggnog · Salads · Bistro boxes · Cut melon · Butter · Cream cheese

An example that becomes one of the most hazardous in a café is the milk carafes that are put out for the customers.  Ensure you check these regularly for temperature to keep safe.  A timer can help and only filling it up as needed for your number of customers using.

  •  What is the proper temperature for refrigerated foods in Canada?

All refrigeration units must be maintained at or below 40°F (4°C)

Freezers should be maintained at 0°F (-18°C) and should not exceed 10°F (-12°C) (During Defrost cycles.)

  • Why is it important you keep your café in good condition?

 -If your store isn’t in good repair, it is difficult to keep clean. If it isn’t clean, not only is it not providing that welcoming environment for our customers, but it can lead to foul odors, pest infestation and food safety hazards.

  • What are the steps to effective disinfecting of small-wares and dishes in your café?  

A three compartment sink should be set-up to the best of your ability in your café.  Teach your team to 1) Pre-scrape/rinse, 2) wash, 3) rinse, 4) sanitize and 5) store safely to air dry.

  • What are the most common allergens that could be present in the cafe or restaurant?

The most common allergens are Milk, Soy, Wheat, Peanuts, Tree nuts, Eggs, Fish (tuna sandwiches if present).  Ensure your team in knowledgeable about what foods and beverages contain these allergens, and if unsure put in protocol that is clear for them to take.  Many restaurants have implemented an allergy book, as well as only allow a manager to take the order to ensure safety.   Have your team able and aware of the common allergy Symptoms that may occur as well to support your customers and team members. The most common reactions are hives, rash, difficulty breathing or swallowing, and anaphylactic shock and how to handle when they occur.


Food safety in cafes is every team members’ responsibility.  Compliance and training will help minimize the threat to not only customers but to team members working in the café.  Following up with your team on food safety, sanitation and sanitization procedures during this pandemic for all businesses open is critical.  Please contact us should you need support with any food safety or sanitation checklists, procedures, or training. 

Leave a Reply