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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…

Be Prepared! Is YOUR Foodservice Ready to Respond to an Emergency?

The last few months, we have been thinking a lot about emergency or disaster situations. While both of us are “half glass full” type of people, we do recognize the value of having a plan just in case! One only has to see the news to become aware that Mother Nature can, on occasion, be cruel (Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Earthquakes, oh my!). Add in situations created by humans (fires, broken water mains, etc.) and it is clear that odds are something can cause a disruption in your foodservice operation. So, being prepared (just like a Boy Scout) is the right thing to do.  In the first blog for this month, we will provide an overview of how to get prepared. Our second blog will cover some…

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…

Auditing Glove Use

Most food workers know the basics of glove use, but the real question is “What do they actually do?”  We recommend that managers/supervisors take time to audit glove use practices in their operation.  This is a way to check that staff are doing what they are supposed to be doing to keep the food safe by using gloves correctly. FoodHandler® has a glove audit form on their website that you could use for making these observations.  This form could be used on a quarterly basis to document the good behaviors (catch people doing things right!) and to identify corrective actions needed. Audit Managerial Practices The first step is to make sure employees have the tools they need. Start by checking whether or not you are providing…

Put the Gloves On!

When you hear “Put the Gloves On” you typically think that a fight is about to ensue.  Well, in foodservice that is exactly what gloves do—put up a fight against contamination!  Gloves provide an extra measure of prevention for foodborne illness when used correctly.  So, in this month’s blogs, we will talk about gloves and how they can be used in your operation to “fight for food safety”! The FDA Food Code, upon which local food codes are based, requires that gloves be used when handling any ready-to-eat (RTE) foods.  RTE foods are those that do not have a heat treatment that can kill bacteria—such as raw fruits and vegetables, bakery items, deli meats, and cheeses, to name a few.  Gloves can be used when…

Taking Care of Business through Employee Productivity

In the firstblog for May on the topic of Workplace Productivity, we covered some indicatorsthat could be used to track performance effectiveness. This blog discussesstrategies to maximize performances of the workforce - because we all know thata foodservice is dependent on staff to meet an organization’s goals. Helping staff “work smarter, not harder” can improve overall efficiency of labor inputs and lead to better quality, safer food. All of us can identify someone who gets in a tizzy when the work pace increases. This is the person who is always in reactive mode rather than being proactive with planning tasks. You know, the person who makes multiple trips to the storeroom for supplies rather than gathering their thoughts and identifying everything needed with one trip. ...

Implementing Active Managerial Control

In our last blog, we defined and discussed the concept of active managerial control.  Now we will present some ideas on just what is needed to begin an approach of active managerial control. Here are some things that you can do in your operation:   Understand food safety and the science behind it.  One very basic thing you can do is become a Certified Food Protection Manager. There are several programs that meet the American National Standards Institute-Conference on Food Protection requirements.  One of the most common is ServSafe® from the National Restaurant Association, but there are also four other approved programs. As someone with this certification, you are better prepared to provide food safety training to your employees and better able to explain why...

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,…

Be Prepared—Norovirus Clean-Up Procedures

We are used to daily cleaning and sanitizing procedures, but norovirus clean-up is very different so it is important to be prepared. You should use these procedures if a norovirus outbreak occurs in your operation or if there is any vomiting event.   You might be asking how do you know that norovirus was the cause of a vomiting incident. Well, at the time it occurs you won’t know. So the appropriate action is to assume that all vomiting may be caused by norovirus and clean it up as if it were. It is always better to err on the side of caution. Have a Body Fluid Clean-Up Kit on Hand Many of your food distributors are now offering clean-up kits for sale. You can purchase…

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