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Food Safety: Vision 2020

When we hear the words 2020, we usually think of having perfect vision.  Periodically, we go to the eye doctor to have our eyes checked to make sure our vision is good.  And, many of us have prescription lenses to recalibrate our eyes so that our vision is as near 2020 as possible. What is your vision for your food safety plan?  Is it in perfect focus?  Things change, so have you done any recalibrations to make sure that your plan still meets the changing needs of your operation?  Just like going to the eye doctor for a check-up, we need to evaluate how we are doing in the area of food safety, and make adjustments to make sure our vision is clear and that…

Keep Ready-to-Eat Foods Safe

In our first blog for February, we identified some of the risks with ready-to-eat foods. RTE does not mean risk free! We pointed out that food processors have implemented food safety plans that use good manufacturing and good handling practices (GMPs and GHPs). Foodservices often purchase RTE foods to avoid some risk in-house. In fact, many schools do not purchase raw protein foods because of risks from under cooking and cross-contamination. But there are still risks from temperature abuse due to improper holding and from contamination that occurs intentionally, or unintentionally, from employee practices or unclean equipment. So, what prevention steps can be taken? Avoiding temperature abuse means having calibrated temperature measuring devices readily available and staff knowing how to use these. It means knowing…

When in Doubt, Throw it Out: Implications for Cost and Safety

When in doubt, throw it out is an adage that is embraced by those concerned about food safety.  While it is a good approach, it can cost a lot for an operation if food is unnecessarily wasted!  So, in this blog we are going to discuss strategies for eliminating, or at least reducing, the amount of food that is thrown out due to food safety concerns.  Active managerial control helps control costs while making sure that food served is safe to eat. Active managerial control will help remove the doubt so that good decisions can be made about whether or not food needs to be discarded. While there is a sense to toss food because of “an abundance of caution”, a little knowledge can save…

SafeFood is Served Here: Check √

A Checklist Approach to Food Safety In our first blog this month, we discussed risk-based inspections and their importance in any foodservice operation—and we promised to provide you with a risk-based checklist to assist you with daily risk mitigation strategies. Because we appreciate structure and routines (hey, we are RDs or registered dietitians, aka real detailed!) we thought this checklist approach might be useful for managers and their staff in monitoring the safety of food served in their operations. The key with any checklist is to keep it specific, yet simple. This blog will focus on a checklist for back of the house functions (in September we will provide a sample checklist to address front of house food safety action steps). The checklists cover the…

Risk-Based Inspections–Risk Nothing®

Every day we make decisions that have a risk component—what happens if we do something and what happens if we don’t?  While some of you may be risk takers in some parts of life, risks related to food safety should not be taken because the consequences are too great—the possibility of a foodborne illness causing customers to get sick, and maybe even die, not to mention the negative publicity for the operation. For those of you who read our blogs routinely, you know that we always end with the FoodHandler tagline—Risk Nothing.  In recent years, you probably have noticed a shift in the approach that environmental health specialists are taking with your routine health inspections.  Today, most are conducting what are called risk-based inspections.  In…

It’s All About Numbers: Performance Measures to Enhance Operational Effectiveness

There are a number of performance measures that can provide feedback to managers regarding effectiveness. In this first blog for May, we will discuss some of these tools and how they might be used for a foodservice. These assessments can track the effectiveness of many aspects including operational, financial, food safety, customer service, and human resources. Comparison with industry (external) or internal benchmarks can provide useful feedback on performance.   In the second blog for May, we will discuss some strategies to improve labor productivity, such as time-motion economy, ergonomics, and work simplification principles. As a side note, some research has found that the application of these techniques not only improves consistency and quantity of work, but leads to less fatigue and injury by workers...

Food Safety Doesn’t Just Happen!

No, food safety in retail foodservices doesn’t happen by accident—it is well planned and executed. It is controllable and foodborne illnesses are preventable! While food workers implement correct food handling and cleaning practices, the operators (managers, supervisors, or the person-in-charge) play a key role in making sure that safe food handling practices are known to all and actually followed. Today, we are introducing you to the term active managerial control and what it means in your operation.  In the next blog, we will talk about how it is implemented in foodservice operations.   What is active managerial control? It is a proactive approach to food safety where procedures and systems are in place to identify potential food safety issues, and allow you to address them...

Person in Charge has Major Role Related to Employee Health

In the last blog, we talked about the importance of having healthy employees working in a foodservice operation and how that is related to foodborne illness. In this blog, we discuss employee health controls, one of five key public health interventions needed to control for risk factors of foodborne illness. The purpose of this control is to minimize the possibility that employees contaminate food. That means that employees need to be healthy, and that they report any symptoms or illnesses that might impact the safety of food served to customers. The person-in-charge plays a major role in implementing employee health controls. First and foremost, the PIC needs to understand why employee health is important and its impact on the foodservice operation, what must be reported,…

Holiday Food Safety RX

There is always a lot to do during the holiday season with extra shopping, baking, social events, decorating, travel, and other tasks to complete. It is not uncommon to hear the rattle of OTC (over the counter) pain killers in other’s personal bags! In this blog, Jeannie and I offer our prescription for keeping food safety during the holidays. Entertaining, whether at home or at the foodservice, requires attention to safe food handling to keep you and your guests healthy (and happy!). Even a person who is not in one of the at-risk categories who has experienced a mild, short-term foodborne illness with 24 to 48 hours of vomiting or diarrhea will tell you it can have a debilitating effect that lasts for several days….

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,…