Every kitchen should have rules and policies to govern how the staff works. These rules make the back-of-house a safer work environment, improve the quality of the food, and protect customers from foodborne illnesses and contamination. The more rules you have in place, the safer your staff and patrons will be.

We’ve assembled a comprehensive list of rules and policies that restaurant management should implement in your restaurant. They can be classified into three general categories: workplace safety, personal hygiene, and food handling and preparation (although some rules impact multiple areas). Let’s dive in!

Workplace Safety and Hygiene

  • Monitor the daily and monthly cleaning schedule reports
  • Carefully handle cleaning chemicals and store them away from food
  • Remove garbage regularly 
  • Keep the kitchen area clean and tidy at all times
  • Expect a health inspection every day
  • Do not work under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Only cooks allowed behind the line
  • Clean as you go
  • Scrape and rinse plates before washing

Personal Hygiene

  • Kitchen staff should wear clean clothing and aprons
  • No slippers or bare feet allowed in the kitchen
  • Kitchen staff must shower and shave daily
  • Long hair must be tied back away from the face
  • Fingernails must be short and clean
  • No watches or large jewelry in the kitchen
  • No strong perfume or aftershave
  • Staff are not allowed to eat in the food preparation area
  • No smoking in the kitchen
  • Wash and dry hands thoroughly and frequently
  • Do not sneeze, blow your nose or cough near food
  • Sick or ill employees are not allowed to work. 
  • Cuts or wounds must be covered or bandaged

Food Handling and Preparation

  • Never lick your fingers. Handle or taste food with a spoon
  • Avoid touching food with bare, dirty hands
  • Raw food like chicken, beef, and pork must never come into contact with cooked food
  • Never use the same surface for raw and cooked foods unless thoroughly cleaned
  • Use separate equipment and tools for raw and cooked foods
  • Have different cutting boards for different foods
  • Always put food into clean and sealed containers
  • Never place any food containers directly on the floor
  • Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before use
  • Never reuse any food that comes back from the dining area
  • Never mix old food with new
  • Pre-cooked food should be reheated to at least 80°C
  • Keep hot food above 63°C in the holding area
  • Always keep thermometers clean, calibrated and sanitized.
  • Cooked food preparations must be chilled immediately to prevent bacteria growth
  • Label raw and cooked food preparations accordingly before storage
  • Never refreeze defrosted food
  • Regularly monitor the temperature of fridges and freezers
  • Use First In, First Out (FIFO) when using properly labeled inventory
  • Ensure storage rooms, refrigerators, and freezers are at the correct holding temperatures

It sounds like a lot when you lay it out in a list like this, but your staff can pick it up as long as they keep a mindset of caution and care when handling food. They may struggle at first, but stay firm and eventually, these back-of-house rules will become a part of their regular routine!