Tips to maintain a Safe & Healthy Restaurant


Tapan Vaidya, CEO of PJP Investments Group LLC, owner-operators of Papa John's in the UAE & Saudi Arabia, shares important tips which can help you keep your restaurant safe and healthy.


Filed under
Food Hygiene
August 24, 2023
Share this story
Subscribe to our newsletter

To receive the latest breaking news and stories in Dubai, the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.

Tips to maintain a Safe & Healthy Restaurant

Without a doubt hygiene and food-safety is the most important function in a trading restaurant. A restaurant with great hygiene and cleanliness will continue to attract customers on a regular basis, conversely a restaurant practicing poor hygiene will consistently lose customers, frequently such restaurants end up closing doors.

Here are some important tips which can help you keep your restaurant safe and healthy.

Know your standards & local food code

It is very important for every restaurant to have their own standards of hygiene and food-safety based on the recipes they cook and the menu items they serve. Such standards must also be in sync with local governmental hygiene code. For example if the restaurant is in Dubai then the standards of this restaurant should also be aligned with Dubai municipality food code.

Implement aligned standards

It Is equally important that you implement your standards aligned with local food code into your operations in a perfectly seamless manner. You should design regular documented walk-throughs by your manager, checking ingredients and equipment temperatures against standards to ensure that your operations are always in compliance. A copy of local food code should always be available in the restaurant for reference whenever required.

Train and coach employees

Team members working in restaurants must be fully trained in basic hygiene and food-safety before they are allowed to operate in a restaurant. It is also important to check their readiness via a formal examination of their knowledge gained. Should a team member need further training, it is better to provide that support rather than risk the health & safety of your customers as well as your business by letting such team members work in the restaurant. Thereafter employees should be regularly monitored as well as coached to ensure consistency in the delivery flawless performance.

Let’s shift our focus now to actual physical practices in restaurants.


The importance of hand-washing has been drilled into everyone over the course of the last couple of years. You should remember that Hand-washing is not just for COVID – it was always an important way to reduce the spread of illness before the pandemic, and it will always remain essential forever. I remember when I entered the restaurant industry in the 1980's, one of the first things I was trained in was how to wash and sanitize my hands, yes I had the good fortune of starting my career with a best-in-class establishment which took hand wash seriously even in the 1980’s.

Restaurant employees should make it a habit to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after:

  • Using the restroom
  • Clearing tables or handling dirty dishes
  • Sneezing, coughing, using a tissue, or otherwise touching their face or body
  • Eating, drinking, or smoking
  • Using chemicals
  • Before and after handling raw meat
  • Touching dirty aprons or clothing

After washing & drying, employees must sanitize their hands before returning to work.

Temperature abuse

All chilled products must be stored in coolers at 2-5 degrees Celsius; frozen at -18 degrees Celsius and the ambient temperature in a restaurant kitchen should be maintained at 22 degrees Celsius. While these equipment should maintain respective temperatures, what is important is internal temperatures of every ingredient in the restaurant, which should be in compliance with its own respective requirement.

To accurately evaluate internal ingredient temperature, an accurate thermometer is an essential part of a manager’s kit. At the start of each shift, the manager must calibrate the equipment the old-fashioned way. Use a glass full of iced water and check if the reading is 0 degree Celsius, and make required adjustments. Then start using the calibrated equipment.

Separate raw and cooked food

Besides adding flavor, creating texture and all other culinary aspects, the main purpose of cooking food is to kill bacteria that may have contaminated the raw product. So, keeping cooked and raw food in close proximity defeats the whole purpose.

Foods can easily be cross contaminated. For example, if you pick up a raw steak and then touch a cooked one right after, you could transfer over some of the bacteria from the raw product. In the same way, keeping raw and cooked foods too close can lead to accidental touching of the two, which is not safe for customers.

Use of disposables

All disposable tools like sponges, towels used in the kitchen should be discarded after its condition deteriorates beyond a point. Such tools are usually not washed and sanitized and can harbor harmful bacteria without anyone realizing. Similarly, gloves should be frequently discarded if used constantly for all activities. I belong to this other school of thought which promotes the idea of frequently washing and sanitizing hands rather than using gloves for all cook-prep activities in the kitchen. A worn glove contains greater risk of cross contamination than frequently washed and sanitized hands.

Use of technology

I strongly urge use of technology to aid health and safety in the kitchen. Today’s market place has a plethora of hardware and software available to aid restaurant and kitchen teams. Technology can not only help maintain check-lists, it can also help accurately check temperatures of kitchen equipment; raise a red flag to management when an equipment malfunctions. Many such software sit on managers’ mobile phones in the form of an App which allows managers to track and maintain hygiene and food-safety in their restaurants.

Create a culture of hygiene & food-safety

Teams should build a culture amongst all team members to create this positive culture which maintains high standards of hygiene as a matter of choice and not because “this is what we are told”. Such initiatives starting from the top management usually attain success, ultimately leading to happy customers who return frequently, making the restaurant an outright success. 

In summary, maintaining hygiene and food-safety is the most important regular task that everyone in a restaurant should undertake and be responsible for. Many well-known brands have suffered from severe fall in revenues as a direct result of food-borne illness break-outs. The amount of PR expense such businesses end up spending to win customers back, one can only wonder why they did not look after hygiene & food-safety in the first place.

About the author:

Tapan Vaidya is the CEO of PJP Investments Group LLC, owner-operators of Papa John's in the UAE & Saudi Arabia. With 36 years’ experience across the Middle East & India, Tapan has been associated with the development of hundreds of restaurants across these markets with brands including Papa John's, Chili’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Outback Steakhouse… It is a long list. He is also on the Advisory Board of UAE Restaurant Group.