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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…

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…

$Money Matters: Balancing Costs and Food Safety Goals

Money matters in any foodservice operation – whether it be in hospitals, assisted living facilities, schools, restaurants, or any other type of operation. Managers are keenly aware that they must balance costs while meeting the goals of their operation.  When balancing costs, we all know that food safety goals cannot be compromised.  Our October webinar provided a great overview of ways to look at costs in foodservice, and how to balance those costs to meet your organizational objectives.  Dr. Julie Boettger’s webinar is available for you to view at www.foodhandler.com/  .  You can earn an hour of continuing education credit while learning great tips for improvements in your operation! Today, I will highlight some of her main points from my perspective and discuss them in…

Communicating Food Safety Messages

In our first blog for October, we reviewed the fundamentals of effective communication. We suggested considering the framework of Who, What, When, Where, and How for crafting messages and determining the best method for delivery. In this blog, we provide some suggestions on how to effectively message about correct handwashing and glove use, as these are fundamental safe food handling practices. Correct handwashing by employees is often hit or miss. Research shows that staff know when and how to wash hands correctly, but don’t always act on that knowledge due to time availability, lack of supplies, or not being aware of the critical nature of handwashing. The message of why, when and how to wash hands in a foodservice setting needs to be conveyed. Managers…

Communicating Food Safety: The Fundamentals

It’s Fall! Here in the Midwest we know it is a new season with cooler temperatures and changing colors of leaves. Our webinar topic for September was about Communication and ways to effectively message about food safety. Dr. Susan Arendt (our former colleague at Iowa State University) did a wonderful job of explaining the importance of effective communications to achieve food safety. If you missed the live presentation, check out the archived webinar.  She reinforced the essential elements of good communication. Just for fun, we googled “communication” and my goodness, there were lots of resources. These included definitions, types, channels, and barriers. Academic studies abound along with workshops on developing skills and tips for improvement. Basically, it boils down to effective messaging – meaning the…

Get it Right! Using Risk-Based Inspections to Your Advantage

Our August and September blogs have emphasized the importance of following food handling behaviors that will reduce risks of foodborne illness in your operation, and contribute to positive guest experiences.  The checklists we provided can help you in analyzing your operation for strengths and weaknesses—and in the long run improve the safety of food served. Your state’s health agency may give a letter grade, a numeric score, or a green/red/yellow at the end of your inspection.  Whatever grading scheme is used, you are aiming for the top score—an “A”, a 100%, or a green light for go!  But you need to remember, the facility inspection by external reviewers only provides a snapshot of what is going on that particular day in your operation.  You are…

What Do Your Guests see? A Front of House Checklist to Ensure Quality and Safety of Food

Hi Everyone! Here it is September already – Food Safety Education Month!  Where did the summer go???? As you may recall from the first blog posted in August, we talked about how Risk-Based Inspections are the new normal for most regulatory health authorities and the importance of day-to-day oversight to prevent foodborne illness and ensure quality of food served. In our opinion every staff member in the foodservice operation has a role to play in keeping food safe and meeting quality standards. Being big believers in checklists, we created a 21-point checklist (see second August blog) to help address key risk factors in the back of the house–time and temperature controls, food from approved sources, cleaning and sanitizing, and of course, employee health and hygiene….

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…

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…

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