Many boil water advisories are issued throughout the United States every year. As a restaurant owner or operator, you may find these advisories to be particularly troublesome since your establishment uses a good amount of water throughout the day; from serving customers drinking water, to mixing up cocktails, and washing fresh produce. Some restaurants find the need to close up shop until these advisories are lifted, which means they lose out on business. But other restaurants decide to stay open during boil water advisories so long as they implement the proper water safety protocols.
But how do you keep your restaurant operating safely during a boil water advisory? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, water used for drinking or cooking must be kept at a rolling boil for at least one minute before serving. This process kills microorganisms like bacteria and viruses that have been detected in municipal water supplies.
In addition to boiling your tap water, the following safety precautions can also help keep your restaurant doors open and ward off health risks during a boil water advisory.
Restaurant Boil Water Advisories: Important Safety Precautions
Use Water from an Alternative Source
Whether you need to wash fresh fruits and vegetables, serve drinking water, or clean your food preparation surfaces, you should try using water from an alternative source if boiling doesn’t sound ideal for you. Using treated or bottled water can keep your staff and patrons from eating or drinking contaminated items during a boil water advisory.
Discard Contaminated Food
If your restaurant had already prepared food with potentially contaminated water prior to the boil water advisory, it’s always best to get rid of it. You may also want to change your menu and only serve food items that do not require water.
Throw Out Your Ice & Don’t Use Beverage Machines
Using ice from an ice maker during a boil water advisory is never a good idea. Since ice makers and dispensers use the same water source as your tap water, you will need to make new ice for your customers using boiled or treated water. You may even wish to purchase ice from another locale that isn’t under an advisory. Additionally, you will want to discontinue using other equipment that uses your water line connections such as soft drink machines, auto-fill coffee makers, and others.
When running restaurant dishes through your commercial grade dishwasher, make sure they go through the sanitizing cycle. This will ensure that tap water contaminants are eliminated from dishware, glasses, and utensils.
Continue Washing Hands & Wear Gloves
All restaurant staff should be washing their hands regularly -- especially during a boil water advisory. Advise your front and back of house staff to wash their hands using an alternative source of water. Your kitchen staff may even wish to wear gloves to keep harmful bacteria and viruses away from food and food prep surfaces.
Install a Restaurant Water Filtration System
When you’re running a restaurant in the midst of a boil water advisory, you want a convenient option when it comes to safely operating your business. A restaurant water filtration system is an ideal solution for safely serving your customers water from your tap every day -- even during a boil water advisory.
It’s important to note that not all water filters are created equal. You will want to choose a high-tech restaurant water filtration system that not only filters out contaminants, but disinfects your tap water to ensure waterborne bacteria and viruses are eliminated from the water you plan to serve customers. A water filtration system with added UV technology will help reduce tap water bacteria and virus count by 99.9%; including the elimination of E.coli and coliform bacteria.
Boil water advisories don’t have to harm your restaurant sales or reputation. Following the safety tips above and using a restaurant water filtration system with UV technology can help you easily bypass potential health risks and keep customers happy and returning.