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Food Allergy Training Resources

Earlier this month, we discussed the importance of being proactive in accommodating customers and staff with allergies.  If you read the post, hopefully the message about the importance of training staff on ways to protect guests was loud and clear!  Therefore, we devote this blog to discussing some resources available to assist in training staff about food allergies – some are free, and others cost a nominal fee.  Most everyone involved with management of restaurants or other foodservices are aware of ServSafe® educational offerings. While it is not required, and it does cost a nominal fee, the ServSafe Allergens training program offered by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation could be a worthwhile investment for key staff.  Requiring employees to pass this assessment provides an…

Customers’ and Employees’ Allergies in Foodservice Operations

When we began our careers in foodservice management many years ago, allergies were not very commonplace.  Yes, occasionally there were customers who had a random allergy – peanuts, or perhaps MSG (which is actually an intolerance) – but nothing like what goes on today in most food operations, with both customers and employees dealing with potential deadly reactions to either food or materials. Dealing with allergies and intolerances are now a common concern among foodservice operators across the country.  And this concern is warranted as recent research indicates almost 11% of adults have a food allergy [1]. Those working in school nutrition are well aware that between 1997 and 2011, the prevalence of food allergies among those under 18 years of age increased by more…

Produce Safety: A Growing Concern

Fifteen to 20 years ago, if you would have asked a restaurant manager about food safety, she or he would have likely engaged you in a deep conversation about end-point cooking temperatures of meat and poultry products, limiting cross contamination, and the temperature danger zone.  Missing from the conversation would have been much, if any, discussion about fresh produce safety. Then, we didn’t think anyone could get sick from lettuce or tomatoes. Then in 2006 – we had the BIG bagged lettuce national outbreak followed by outbreaks of listeria and salmonella from cantaloupes in 2011 and 2012. Now, we know better. Fast forward to 2020 and attention to produce safety is something of which foodservice operations are very mindful.  Produce-related outbreaks account for around half...

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…

Ready-to-Eat Foods: Are they Risky?

Those of us familiar with the retail food industry are well aware of potential risks associated with ready-to-eat foods. We recognize that any food can present risks if it is not handled correctly. Yet, our circles of family and friends outside the world of foodservice may not have this awareness. Sure, most folks know that meat, poultry, and dairy foods should be kept in the refrigerator. Yes, they know the importance of cooking meats (but you may get differences of opinion on what “done” means; quiz wait staff what temperature ‘medium well’ is and you might get some surprising answers!). What seems to go over the head of many consumers (and even some TV chefs) is the importance of handling ready-to-eat foods – or RTE…

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