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By: John Gescheidle, Foodservice Safe

What is a 5-minute rule?  First, it is not the same as the 5-second rule—where if food drops on the floor, and someone yells at the top of their lungs “5-SECOND RULE,” it is okay to eat the fallen food within five seconds. This is an urban myth.  Let me be clear, it is not safe to eat the fallen food. Remember: when in doubt throw it out.

If you have ever attended one of our food safety classes, you will recall I promote it as one of the most important classes to teach managers how to retain and attract guests. Think about it, do you know anyone who has returned to a restaurant whose food has made them ill? How do you feel when you see towels on a restaurant’s bathroom floor? These situations are some of the key reasons why people do not return or recommend restaurants to their friends.  Unfortunately, food safety is not the top priority for a lot of operations.  Hiring and scheduling staff, ordering supplies, and implementing an effective POS system come first. Most managers may be hard pressed to know how much of their day is dedicated to food safety.  The 5-minute rule can help you prioritize food safety as the single most important responsibility of any foodservice manager.

Okay, here is how the 5-minute rule works. Every hour you work, dedicate five minutes solely to food safety. Literally stop what you are doing, look at your operations through a food safety lens, and watch your employees handle food. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are they washing hands and changing gloves after each task?
  • Are they washing hands and any exposed part of their arms for 20 seconds?
  • Are the handwashing sinks dry in the middle of the day?
  • Is there any unattended food out on the counter?
  • Is there any food on the floor?
  • Are all chemicals stored and labeled correctly?

For a list of additional question, please contact me at [email protected].

Dedicate time in your busy workday to food safety to guarantee your food safety protocols are being handled correctly. If time is allotted to food safety every shift, one manager would be able to focus on food safety for at least 40 minutes a day which is a great start.