What health and safety inspection looks like for restaurants in Bangkok
Restaurants in Bangkok have big decisions to make unless deemed to be critical by the government. Some are temporarily closed, some are heightening their disinfection and decontamination procedures, and others are open for business (but not) as usual.
For consumers who are curious about the health and safety protocol of local food establishments, there are 15 main rules and regulations that every restaurant must follow according to the manual from Bureau of Food and Water Sanitation, Department of Health. Most places, except for undetected street food stalls and food carts, are required to have a minimum standard whether there is an outbreak or not.
Demystifying rules and regulations of local restaurants:
- All areas for dining, service, preparing and cooking food must be clean and tidy: this involves regular rinsing, sanitising and washing the guests area or dining room and the kitchen after each day of operation.
- Food must not be prepared or cooked on the floor, nearby or inside the restroom. It must be done on tables at least 60cm above the floor.
- All food additives must be standardised, approved and registered by authorised offices for FDA (Food and Drug Administration) or TIS (Thai Industrial Standard) food number.
- Fresh food must be washed or cleaned before cooking or storing. Food must be kept separately according to their types. Raw meat must be kept at temperature not higher than 5°c: this is mainly to prevent foodborne illness such as cross-contamination in meats and plants or raw to cooked food.
- Cooked food must be stored or covered in food grade and clean containers, placed on shelf or cabinet at least 60cm above the floor: according to WHO, most pathogens perish in the temperatures of 60°c-65°c and when heating food in at least 70°c temperature whereas the danger zone is at 4°c-60°c.
- Potable ice must be fit for human consumption, kept in clean and covered containers, placed at least 60cm above the floor. Proper utensil (long handle spoon) shall be used to pick up ice for serving: this is because some bacterias and viruses can survive in freezing temperatures meaning they can be inactive yet alive on ice cubes until thawed.
- All utensils must be washed by detergent and rinsed thoroughly twice by clean tap water. Sinks and washing facilities must be set up at least 60cm above the floor.
- Cutting boards and knives must be in good condition, and being used separately for cooked food, raw meat, vegetable and fruit.
- Spoons, forks and chopsticks must be stored with handle up or laid down neatly in clean and closed container or basket, placed at least 60cm above the floor: WHO suggests that viruses may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days but a simple disinfection method will kill them.
- Food waste and wastewater must be disposed off in such a manner as sanitary system.
- Restrooms must be provided in adequate number and properly located in a premise. They shall be designed to ensure hygienic condition. Hand washing basin with soap or dispensers for hand disinfecting shall be provided adjacent to the restrooms. Restrooms and hand washing facilities shall always be in good conditions.
- Food handlers must wear suitable protective clothing including short or long sleeves clothes, apron and hair covering such as hat or net.
- Food handlers must wash their hands frequently and thoroughly before preparing, cooking or handling food or whenever else necessary. Bare hands must not apply directly to food. Proper utensil such as tong, spoon, spatula or any other utensil must be used for picking up ready-to-eat food: ideally, this would make eating out safe in spite of the contagion yet diners are prone to spreading sickness among themselves and the front of the house rather than from the kitchen team through food. Take-outs, no-contact food deliveries and social distancing dining tables could be the new normal.
- Any cut or wound on food handlers’ hands or skin must be completely protected by water proof covering in order to avoid transmission of diseases.
- Food handler who suffers from or to be a carrier of any transmittable disease through water and food must not continue handling food or food contact surfaces until a complete recovery: this is key for business owners to manage their food workers as well as help slow down the spread of Coronavirus.
So far, there is no evidence that imported goods from the affected regions or food is the source or transmitting route for COVID-19. While consumers are social distancing or self-isolating, the F&B industry is also prioritising safety and practising standardised health and hygiene rules and regulations.
It is no wonder how much times like these are turning restaurants upside down; small businesses in particular. As media friends and consumers, we encourage our readers to show support in the ways we know how and, of course, take precautions. If you avoid eating out in Bangkok, there are places that are delivering their food for the first time with new tactics tailored for the current situation. Or simply engage with, react to and share their online content. #savefandb