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Holiday Health

The holidays are here! (A reminder just in case you haven’t seen store decorations and TV ads!). This IS a special time of year with gatherings of friends and families to celebrate, reflect, and partake of food and drink. However, it is also the time of year where the Germ Grinch and excess stress can spoil all the fun. Don’t let that happen on your watch! Common sense practices, based on research and publications by CDC, can keep the Grinch at bay. FoodHandler® also focused on this topic in a recent webinar. In this blog, our first for December, some tips on how to stay healthy during the holidays (and the rest of the year) will be covered while the second blog will address some…

The Politics of Food Safety – Part Two

Hi everyone. Keeping with the theme of politics, our blog postings for the month of November are about food safety regulations. In the first blog, we provided background on agencies and their oversight for different foods. In this blog, we are covering elements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that was signed into law January of 2011. FSMA was heralded as significant food safety legislation as it enhanced and expanded regulatory oversight. FSMA consists of Seven Rules: Preventative Controls for Human and Animal Foods; Produce Safety Rule; Foreign Supplier Verification Programs; Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors/Certification Bodies; Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food; and Prevention of Intentional Contamination/Adulteration. Most of these Rules affected production, processing, and transportation links of the food chain. While foodservices…

The Politics of Food Safety – Part One

Well, unless you have had your ear buds in and have sequestered yourself from all media, you are aware that November is Election Month! November 6th is the day that voters across the country will weigh in on their representation at local, state, and national levels. Given this frenzy, Jeannie and I thought the politics of food safety would be a great blog theme for this month. Specifically, we will cover the “what” and “why” of legislative actions designed to improve the safety of food from farm to fork. History Lesson Let’s start at the beginning. In 1906, muck-racking journalism was alive and well, and a little book called “The Jungle”, written by Upton Sinclair, was published. The book vividly described the, shall we say,…

Food Defense Playbook

In the last blog, we raised the question of whether a defensive position is really needed for retail foodservices. I hope you were convinced that incorporating some defensive measures into daily practices will protect food inventory from risks–whether those risks are theft, spoilage, or intentional contamination. After all, food in inventory belongs to the operation so it makes sense to protect it from any risks while in your custody. Intentional contamination is one of the risks that we have to recognize is real in today’s world, regardless of who is the perpetrator. Security cameras are helpful and can serve as a deterrent, but most defensive measures are common sense and relate to controls for access and opportunity. The Food and Drug Administration has good information…

Food Defense—What is Your Game Plan?

We are into the season of Friday Night Lights and for many of you, this is a time when offensive and defensive strategies are discussed and rehashed during Monday morning quarterbacking sessions. Most of you working in foodservices have your “offensive” game under control with menu item and service strategies to ensure customer satisfaction–a big part of your play book. But, how is your “defensive” game? Do you have procedures in place to protect food from intentional contamination? In this blog, we will cover some background on food defense and discuss whether it really is a necessary strategy. In the second posting for this month, action steps for operations to consider will be presented. Is food defense important? Well, before September 11th, 2001 we really…

Evaluating Food Safety

One of the suggestions I made in the last blog was to assess the food safety culture in your organization by observing the food handling techniques of workers. Let’s explore that some more. You can do an overall assessment or you can hone in on specific areas of the operation, such as production or cleaning practices. Remember, when the environmental health inspector visits your operation, he/she just gets a snapshot of what is going on in your operation on that particular day at that specific time. You are there nearly every day, so you have a much better understanding on what really happens in your operation. For our purposes today, let’s focus on the practice of glove use because we know how important the correct…

September is National Food Safety Month: The Future of Food Safety

Each September we recognize the importance of food safety every day in our operations by celebrating National Food Safety Month. This year’s theme, The Future of Food Safety, emphasizes the changing environment in which foodservice operates.   Each week of September has a unique focus: Regulation Changes—Staying compliant with new regulations Suppliers—Best practices for receiving food Consumers—Responding to new trends and technologies Employees—Their role in ensuring food safety Go to www.foodsafetyfocus.com to download resources related to these four focus areas. At FoodHandler, we believe that food safety should be the focus in foodservice operations every day. This month our blog presents ideas for creating a positive food safety culture, which we believe forms the foundation for a strong food safety program. We are pleased to provide…

September is Food Safety Education Month: The Culture of Food Safety

Developing a culture of food safety is important for any foodservice operation. You may be wondering–just what is a culture of food safety? Let’s start talking about it by first defining what is meant by culture. When you look culture up in the dictionary, you will see terms such as shared knowledge, beliefs, values, attitudes, and meanings; a way of life; patterns of behavior; learned behavior of a group of people; and transmitted from generation to generation. I think these descriptors provide good insight into the meaning of a culture of food safety. You can also think about where you grew up, and a vision of culture comes. For example, I grew up in rural Oklahoma, graduating in the 1970’s with a class of 24…

Produce Safety: Special Considerations

In our last blog, I talked about general produce safety. Today, I want to talk about some special products—melons, tomatoes, leafy greens, and sprouts. These are all foods that have a history of bacterial contamination leading to foodborne illness. I also want to discuss salad bars because they have some special risks. Melons. Cantaloupe is the melon of most concern because it has a webbed rind, and bacteria are easily trapped in that webbing resulting in contamination of the meat of the melon. Many people (maybe some of your staff) think that they eliminate any hazard because they cut away the rind—but that is not the case. In fact, some of our observational research showed staff routinely skipping the wash step for many vegetables with…

Fresh and Tasty Produce, but are there Food Safety Concerns?

One of the best things about the middle of summer is the wonderful variety of tasty fresh produce that is available. I hope you are enjoying the fruits of the harvest because it has great flavor and provides us with a variety of important vitamins, minerals, and fiber needed to maintain good health. Unfortunately, there are also some food safety risks that come with all of the good qualities of fresh produce. Just this year, we have heard the stories of E. coli in romaine lettuce and several cases of foodborne illness due to a parasite (Cyclospora) in fresh cut vegetables and salads sold in quick service restaurants and grocery and convenience stores. In recent years, we have also seen outbreaks related to tomatoes, sprouts,...
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