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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…

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…

SafeBites Time and Temperature Control: How To’s

Welcome back! In the last blog I gave the low down on temperature controlled for safety (TCS) foods and the temperature danger zone (TDZ). The focus of this blog is all about control of time and temperatures of foods in your operations. You might say we are discussing Control Issues! Kidding aside, knowing that temperature abuse is a leading cause of foodborne illness, it only makes sense to pay attention to the time that TCS foods are in the TDZ (remember, that is between 41° F and 135° F). FoodHandler® recently updated some useful time and temperature documentation tools. Daily Temperature Logs These logs provide guidance about when to check temperatures of foods and food storage units with a structured format that includes the necessary...

SafeBites Time and Temperature Control: Why & When

Hi Everyone – Cathy here. Having written the SafeFood Blog for Iowa State University for over ten years, I am happy to have the opportunity to work with FoodHandler in my retirement. Jeannie and I share with FoodHandler a passion for making sure food served is safe. You might recall in the June blogs, Jeannie presented the Top 5 reasons why food becomes unsafe, and she discussed controls for two of those in efforts to reduce risk of cross contamination leading to a foodborne illness. In this month’s blog, the topic of preventing temperature abuse of foods will be covered. This week, the focus is on the “why” and “when” of time and temperature controls. The second blog in July will identify some action steps...

Mitigation Strategies for Cross Contamination

In our last blog, we talked about cross contamination, including the related risks and sources. Our focus today will be on some of the major strategies that can be used to mitigate cross contamination in a foodservice operation. Before we talk about those strategies, it is important to discuss the role of the management staff in controlling cross contamination. Owners and managers play a key role in food handling behaviors that occur in any foodservice operation. They are the ones who develop food safety policies, procedures, and expectations; provide training; and supervise employees on a daily basis. Each of these functions, which is part of providing active managerial control, will make the difference between a strong, or a weak, food safety program. Now, let’s talk…

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