Category Archives: Food Safety

Healthy choices of fresh fruit, salads and vegetables at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia for lunch service Wednesday, October 19, 2011. The fruit, salads and vegetables are made available through the National School Lunch Program. The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service operating in public, nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day.

Farm to School, Food Safety, and the Benefits of a Produce Safety System

Farm to School

October is National Farm to School Month, a time that encourages reflection and appreciation of the hard work our dedicated farmers do for all of us on a daily basis. Farm to school places special emphasis on the relationship between schools and local food producers devoted to delivering fresh, healthy foods to thousands of students on a daily basis.  Organizations like the National Farm to School Network use this time to reach out to local communities, educating and advocating for strengthening these local relationships between communities and local food providers with the goal of filling every student’s tray with a healthy lunch full of local ingredients.

As the demand for locally sourced produce increases across the nation, this month also provides an opportunity to revisit proper food safety. I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Corporate Chefs Chris Gardner and Jeff White to learn more about the importance of food safety, and tactics every foodservice employee should follow to properly ensure the well-being of their hungry guests.

Food Safety

We started the conversation by establishing a basic understanding of the importance of food safety.

Every year, roughly 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from food-borne diseases. This part of why Gardner and White emphasized HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) and ServSafe as key components of everything they do because, stating that in any environment, be it a five-star restaurant or a fast-food joint, you have a much lower risk of getting sick from the food because the operators practice their guidelines.

There are food-borne illnesses and cross-contamination everywhere, and special consideration must be made for those with allergies. In these situations, cross-contamination can lead to severe illness. If you work in a school or restaurant, this could lead to lawsuits and lost business. The protocols laid forth by the HACCP and ServSafe provide expert tactics and proper protocol to avoid this.

farmers-market-fruit-standIt’s also possible to acquire a foodborne illness from particles in the earth and fertilizers that attach to the product. This is why thoroughly washing all produce is mandatory.

Local produce starts on the farm, and is transported to the manufacturer immediately after harvest. It isn’t until the stock reaches the manufacturer that proper cleansing begins. “From the field to where the manufacturing plant is, there isn’t usually a lot of wash. It’s once they get to the plant where wash cycles begin,” Chris says. This process is usually documented so by chance there was an outbreak, manufacturers can track it back to its origins in order to isolate and prevent its spread.

In today’s foodservice world, establishments and institutions are using a lot of pre-packaged foods, such as salad mix. The companies packaging these products are using HACCP guidelines for extra insurance that they will not result in a foodborne illness. However, it is still important to rinse the product thoroughly before preparing for consumption. Many of the products use chemical preservatives to extend the shelf life. While this is not necessarily a negative in and of itself, these chemicals were not meant to be ingested.

When working in institutions such as schools, and preparing daily lunches in bulk, properly cleansing products is a time-consuming task. This brings us to Duke Manufacturing’s new X-Green™ Produce Safety System.

The X-Green™ Produce Safety System

Model XGRR

Model XGRR

This produce safety system allows the user to thoroughly soak all varieties of fruits and vegetables in bulk, ensuring their proper handling while saving labor. It includes many settings, from soaking in cold water, to injecting Fit® wash solution to remove pesticides, wax, soil and bacteria.

This product enhances your HACCP program, and when combined with Fit produce wash, destroys up to 99.99% of the harmful bacteria that causes food-borne illness. It has even been tested and validated by the U.S. Navy for its effectiveness at cleaning fresh produce, as well as reducing labor.

The system offers a number of innovative features to assist in improving quality and verifying food safety compliance:

  • Automatic injection of wash agent to ensure correct pH levels
  • Programmable wash cycles, which can be custom tailored to your operation
  • Timer alarms to signal cycle completion, which allows your staff to multi-task
  • Statistical reporting and labeling for food safety compliance
  • Batch processing at high volumes, leading to reduced food deliveries and costs

The X-Green Produce Safety System is fast, efficient, easy to use, improves product quality, saves labor, and enhances food safety compliance – the number one priority for every foodservice operation. It will be available for sale on Central’s website in the near future.

If you would like more information about HACCP standards, click here.

You may also enjoy this post on ways to reduce the risk of cross-contamination, even in the busiest kitchen environments.

food safety tips

3 Products to Enhance Food Safety in Your Operation

Food Safety Stats

Did you know that 48 million Americans fall ill to a foodborne illness each year? This is roughly one out of every six people. Or did you also know that 128,000 are hospitalized and there are 3,000 fatalities? These alarming stats from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics remind us that the foodservice industry must always have food safety as a top priority at all times with every task that is done. If you read about the affects that these illnesses have, they will make your skin crawl and you definitely would not want any of these things happening to you, so make sure they don’t happen to your customers. Take charge and make sure your foodservice is keeping food safety as a top priority and below are three products to help you with those goals!

Thermometers

When cooking foods, you always want to keep food out of the “danger zone,” which is anywhere from +41ºF to +135ºF. Once you enter the “danger zone,” food becomes more susceptible for rapid bacterial growth, increasing your customers chances of getting a foodborne illness. By having reliable and accurate thermometers on hand, you can have the visibility needed on food to ensure they are safe for consumption. Thermometers are available in your choice of dial or digital, and there also allergen models too for customers with life-threatening food allergies.

food safety thermometers

Color-Coded Cutting Boards

The sixth largest contributing factor to foodborne illness is cross-contamination. So–rule number one with cutting boards: NEVER ever cross-contaminate by cutting multiple types of food on the same cutting board. By using the color coding system of red (meat), yellow (poultry), green (fruits and vegetables), brown (fish/seafood), blue (cooked foods), grey (general use) or purple (allergen), you can greatly reduce your risk of contaminating foods. To help, color code different departments using these colors to help implement this system, such as all red items in the butcher area and color-items in a bakery.

food safety cutting boards

Saf-T-Ice®Buckets

When it comes to ice buckets in the restaurant, it can be very easy to have your ice bucket on the floor, then in your ice bin, then back on your floor–and various different ways. So, everything that has been on the floor is now possibly in customer drinks and anything that uses ice. Gross! San Jamar’s Saf-T-Ice® tote system protects ice from dangerous contamination while in transport or stroage. There is a comfortable HACCP handle with grips that allow you to mount the ice bucket onto your bin at an optimum pouring level. Many other accessories are available to to increase safety when it comes to ice.

food safety ice bucket

More Food Safety

Here are Central Restaurant Products, we are your food safety experts. There are thousands of products available to make your job in the foodservice industry easier because often times, mistakes are made on accident. We get busy or have had a long shift. The easier way to do things, or shortcuts, may cause harm in the future. Or, we may not be realizing we are making mistakes hence the need for equipment and supplies that make the day easier and safer for you and your customers.

Find a wide variety of our food safety articles to help you brush up on your facts and more, and visit our website to find everything you need to increase food safety in your operation. Need help? Our product consultants are ready to get you the products you need and are only a phone call (800-215-9293) or live chat away.

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Refrigeration and Food Safety

Food safety is the paramount concern of any food service operator. As the largest part of an operator’s costs, proper refrigeration equipment and cold food storage techniques should be a major part of any safety plan. This plan should start when making your refrigeration purchase decisions, carry through everyday operations and look to the future to control costs and prolong equipment life. Are these all a part of your plan?

Choose Your Refrigerator Type

Central's Product Consultants Learn about True Models

Central’s Product Consultants Learn about True Models

When looking for a new refrigerator, sizing and type are the first questions to ask. You want a refrigeration solution that fits your available kitchen space, while still providing adequate storage for all your perishables. Other choices include door configurations (full size/half size) and materials (solid /glass doors). Pass-thru models allow access from both the front and back of the unit and are perfect for busy kitchens or passing and holding foods from the kitchen to the service area. Roll-in models are perfect for high velocity kitchens that need to store large amounts of food products stored on movable bakery racks.

Another common mistake is using a merchandiser to store non-sealed foods. Only NSF-7 approved refrigerators are designed to safely store open food items like prepared foods or left-overs. Traditional reach-ins use a sealed compartment that minimizes that growth of bacteria. Glass door merchandisers, which are typically used for cooling beverages, are not certified by health department codes for kitchen use.

Proper Temperature Control

Proper Temperature is a Major Factor in Food Safety

Proper Temperature is a Major Factor in Food Safety

Once your new equipment is put into service, all your employees must understand how to maintain proper temperature control. The first task is to minimize the amount of time the doors are open. Of course, an open door means that heat is entering the unit, raising the temperature in the food safety danger zone. Organizing its contents so employees know what items are where will help keep your cold food cold. Glass door units can also help identify contents before the door is opened.

Over-stuffing your refrigerator or placing hot foods directly into the cabinet also effects your temperature. Airflow is important to maintaining temperatures, and a cramped refrigerator cabinet hinders this process. Larger operations can use a blast chiller to cool large quantities of product from cooking to a safe cold holding temperature, but smaller operations should consider using the ‘two-stage cooling’ process. Under this process, you take the food from 135° to 70° in two hours, then place it into your refrigerator to cool to a safe 41° temperature.

Save Money with Preventative Maintenance

Keeping an eye on your commercial refrigerator’s performance over time not only saves you money in repair costs, but minimizes food waste by maximizing the “shelf life” of raw and prepared ingredients. The most overlooked aspect of preventative maintenance is regular condenser cleaning. Your refrigerator’s condenser is where heat is removed from the hot gas refrigerant. When dust and debris collect on the condenser coils, this process become far less efficient and the unit’s other components (evaporator, fans, etc.) have to work harder. This costs you in higher utility bills and shortens your refrigerator component’s useful life.

A simple monthly sweeping or vacuuming (be gentle!) of the condenser coils can save hundreds of dollars. Listen to your refrigerator over time. If the fans are running more often with a higher pitched squeal, it probably needs a quick cleaning. Manufacturer’s have been making it easier to access these components – sometimes with no tools required. Also, technology is advancing and Turbo Air has begun adding a feature to select equipment that will automatically brush debris off the coil at scheduled intervals. This is roll out is expected later in 2015, so ask your Product Consultant for current model availability.

Shop Central for the Right Solution Every Time

With all these options for cold food storage, it might be difficult for you to feel confident in making the right choice. So, the easiest decision is to pick up your phone and call 800-215-9293 and speak with one of the expert Product Consultants at Central Restaurant. They find the perfect refrigeration solutions for customers every day and frequently attend training sessions conducted by our vendor partners to stay up to date on the latest innovations, options and models.

Once discussing your needs, they can recommend the right solution from our trusted vendor partners like True Refrigeration, Turbo Air, Traulsen and Beverage Air. Central Restaurant has also sourced our own Central Exclusive private label equipment for a high-quality solution at unbeatable prices. Call, browse CentralRestaurant.com or chat online with an expert today!

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What Do They Mean: NSF, UL and Energy Star Rated

While shopping for restaurant equipment, you will find NSF® listed, UL® certified and ENERGY STAR® rated items.  In many cases, people do not always know what these mean. We’ve compiled this list based from the  CFSP (Certified Foodservice Professional) guide and each of their websites to explain everything.

NSF LogoNSF®

What it stands for:  National Sanitation Foundation

Who they are: A non-profit, non-governmental organization, also known as the Public Health and Safety Company™, who describe themselves as the “world leader in standards development, product certification and risk-management for public health and safety.”

Why they are important: The CFSP guide says NSF has the following three purposes for equipment in the foodservice industry:

  1. Assure all equipment meets health standards and passes critical inspection at the facility
  2. Allows manufacturers to apply uniform construction methods to all NSF listed equipment
  3. Provide health authorities throughout the country a “united front or voice” to require basic elements of equipment sanitation

What NSF listed means: In order to obtain the NSF listing, the equipment is reviewed and tested before approval. As there several types of equipment, NSF says on their website they have developed “over 50 voluntary American National Standards under the scope of health and safety” for foodservice equipment.  They look closely at these standards before granting the NSF listing.

Below is a very brief and general overview from the CFSP guide of some of the things NSF looks into (keep in mind there are different standards more specific to different kinds of equipment):

  1. Physical design and construction evaluation for ease of cleaning
  2. Materials (look for corrosion or heat resistance, durability, nontoxic)
  3. Performance
  4. Sanitation effectiveness
  5. Accuracy of control systems

UL Logo

UL®

What it stands for:  Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.

Who they are: UL is an independent, non-for-profit and non-governmental organization who describes themselves as “a global independent safety science company offering expertise across five key strategic businesses: Product Safety, Environment, Life and Health, University and Verification Services.”

Why they are important: With over 75 years of experience, the CFSP guide says the UL listing evaluates gas, electrical and sanitation safety on cooking, refrigeration, food processing and food prep equipment. They look at the most current standards and follow up after approval to ensure standards are maintained. A very brief overview of their mission on their website is below, view their full list here. They:

  1. Promote safe working environments
  2. Support the production and use of physically and environmentally safe products to prevent or reduce loss of life and property
  3. Advance safety science

What UL listed means: To receive the UL listing, companies will have received the proper testing for a specific product based on their over 20 safety standards. UL has worked with many organizations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), National Electrical Code (NEC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to determine and maintain current standards. The CFSP guide also adds the UL listing can also be reviewed for custom built equipment as well. To read how the entire process to make a product UL listed works, click here.

Are products with the UL Sanitation mark also NSF listed? According to the Underwriters Laboratories, they are accredited by the American National Standards Institute to certify products to NSF standards. This applies to food equipment, drinking water chemicals and products, and swimming pool equipment. For more information on UL products being NSF listed, check out this Code Authorities — EPH FAQs article. You can also review the “UL Food Program: Acceptance of the UL Mark” which includes information about the UL sanitation classification mark.

Energy Star LogoEnergy Star®

Who they areEnergy Star® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency.  They have created a partnership with the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and the U.S. Department of Energy that uses methods to protect the environment with energy efficient products and practices.

Why they are important: Energy Star® rated products are able to give a solution to some of the high energy costs and environmental issues.  “Energy Star® provides a trustworthy label on over 60 product categories (and thousands of models) for home and office,” their website states. They also deliver technical information and tools to help make decisions for energy efficiency and play a key role in the latest technological advances. They have also put together a guide titled “Putting Energy into Profit” specifically for restaurants.

The Energy Star® website states their label was created to:

  1. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants caused by the inefficient use of energy
  2. Make it easy for consumers to identify and purchase energy efficient products that offer savings on energy bills without sacrificing performance, features and comfort

What Energy Star means:  Energy Star® says “products can earn the Energy Star® label by meeting the energy efficiency requirements set forth in Energy Star® product specifications.”  These specifications have been/are established by the EPA, based on key guiding principles on this website.  According to the CSFP guide, if a product is Energy Star® rated, a manufacturer must be able to show they meet the minimum energy efficiency criteria for that particular product category.

**Note: Certain Energy Star® products qualify for Federal tax credits, for more information click here.

Shop Central

We offer more than 400 ENERGY STAR® qualified products designed to help your restaurant cut utility costs. Our product consultants can help guide you to the products that are NSF and UL listed to ensure you are meeting health standards in your foodservice establishment. For more details call 800-215-9293 and be sure to visit our website for our entire line of food service equipment and supplies.

 

*Edits made by Carlisha Carr

new years resolution ideas

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Restaurant or Foodservice

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy 2015 everyone! With a new year means it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. It’s a time to reflect and see what you can improve for the next 365 days. Here are some New Year’s resolution ideas for your restaurant or foodservice with some blogs and articles to get you started. Please share your own resolutions in the comments below!

homer laughlin china

Vintage Homer Laughlin china advertisement–which you can still get today! Just search our website! Photo credit: jbcurio / iW / CC BY

1. Review How to Handle Upset Customers with Staff

Let’s face it, there are going to be times when customers are unhappy. It could be a weekly or daily occurrence–it happens! We are all human, different things make us tick or we make errors. In the foodservice industry, it’s extremely important that anyone serving customers, especially upset ones, handle the situation calmly and with the customer’s best interest in mind. Because at the end of the day, staff is angry or rude at a customer, it will reflect poorly on your business.

It’s important to help staff know how to handle difficult and stressful situations to bring everyone to a more positive solution. Below are a few articles to get you started:

2. Make Sure Food Safety is a Top Priority

Does your restaurant ensure food has met a food safe temperature before serving? Do employees know how long to wash their hands, and how often they need to? What about allergies, do you have a plan in place if you have a guest with food allergies? These and more are all important to ensure customers do not get sick from the food you serve.

new years resolution ideas3. Increase Budget for Equipment and Supplies

Ah, coming from a foodservice equipment and supply distributor, that headline sounds a little tricky and salesy, I know! But bear with me for a second. I’m going somewhere.

When you need to rely on something in life, do you buy the cheapest thing to get you through? Or if you need to make sure it will be there for you through and through do you spend a couple extra bucks? That definitely applies to equipment and supplies. You get what you pay for. Sometimes by spending a little extra, you will get more life out of a product (i.e. oven, refrigerator or even a knife) which in the long run saves money. The next time you purchase equipment, talk to your product consultant about all options and ask them what long term savings are. Sure, sometimes you might be on a tight budget and buying the cheapest thing makes sense. But other times, a little more upfront can go a long way in the long run.

Okay, and for one quick shameless plug, you can visit CentralRestaurant.com for anything you need for your restaurant or foodservice. We also have a nifty new “live chat” feature that goes to a real person here in Indianapolis if it’s more convenient than calling 800-215-9293.

4. Consider Social

If your restaurant isn’t using social media, you may be losing out on business. But you might not be! It’s definitely not for every business. However, if it’s something you have written off as not important without even trying…you may want to re-evaluate that. With many different platforms out there (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.!), it might be overwhelming. The National Restaurant Association put together “Social media options: Which is right for my restaurant” to help you determine which are best for you and your establishment.

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

Are you creating goals for the new year? Share below! Happy new year and Central wishes everyone a safe and happy 2015.

Image at top photo credit: Bob Jagendorf / iW / CC BY-NC

food safety tips for holidays

Food Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Food Safety

It’s that time of year again–the holiday season! While you are prepping food for your foodservice or for your traditional celebrations, it is important that food safety be a No. 1 priority. Below are some tips to keep your preparations safe during the holidays!

Proper Food Temperatures

Many foods must reach a certain internal temperature before they are safe for consumption. In order to meet food safety temperatures, FoodSafety.gov said to be sure the foods below reach the following minimums on your thermometer three minute before serving. Also, if food has been sitting out at room temperature for two or more hours, it should be disposed. (Click image below to view larger version).Food Safety Temperatures

food safety glovesGloves and Handwashing

Proper handwashing is crucial to ensure food safety. Many foodservice establishments also require employees to wear plastic gloves during preparation. Just remember, each time you step away from preparing or serving food and touch another surface (cell phone, door handle, etc.), be sure to properly wash  your hands and change gloves.

To properly wash hands:

  1. Use soap and warm water (105°F)
  2. Rub hands vigorously for 20 seconds and wash all surfaces including the backs of hands, wrists, in between fingers and under nails
  3. Rinse hands thoroughly and turn off water and open doors with a paper towel to avoid cross-contamination

Electronic faucets and automatic hand dryers are a great way foodservices can be sure to avoid contact with any bacteria or germs after properly washing hands.

Cutting gloves are also available to ensure hands and fingers are safe while preparing foods.

Ways to Avoid Cross Contamination

Standard Color Codes

Items such as cutting boards, cutlery and ladles/tongs can all be color coded to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination.

food safety color codes

food allergy San Jamar saf-t-system

Allergen Color Codes

For customers or guests with food allergies, foodservice equipment and supply manufacturers have color-coded each of those products as purple. Only use purple color-coded food prep supplies for those with food allergies as one small trace of an allergen exposed to them can be serious.

San Jamar’s Allergen Saf-T-Zone System is a kit that includes most items needed to prepare a meal for a person with food allergies. If investing in this system, be sure to also purchase a purple allergen thermometer to go along with the set.

Food Labels

Rotation labels are also imperative for food safety to avoid food borne illnesses and cross contamination so employees know when foods will go bad but they also can help reign in food costs too.

Wash Foods Properly

It’s important to wash our hands frequently but that is not necessary for all foods.

“Washing raw poultry, beef, pork, lamb or veal before cooking is not recommended,” the USDA said. “Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils and surfaces. We call this cross-contamination.”

The USDA also advises not to wash eggs either as they have already been washed during commercial egg processing. After this process has occurred, which removes the natural coating on freshly laid eggs, they are given a light coating of an edible mineral oil that restores protection. Any additional washing of eggs the USDA said jeopardize this measure and could increase the risk of cross-contamination.

Produce, however, should be washed. Fruits and vegetables should be placed under cool running tap water to remove any lingering dirt and reduce bacteria.

“If there is a firm surface, such as on apples or potatoes, the surface can be scrubbed with a brush,” the USDA said. “These products are not approved or labeled by the FDA for use on foods. You could ingest residues from soap or detergent absorbed in the produce.”

When washing produce, they advise to cut away any damaged or bruised areas as bacteria can move and thrive there. Upon cutting any items, they must be placed in a refrigerator to ensure food safety.

Need Help?

Whether it’s finding equipment and supplies to help improve food safety, or needing help getting started, contact a Central product consultant at 800-215-9293 or use our live chat option!

NFSM - Food Prep

Celebrate National Food Safety Month Year Round

Did you know that September is National Food Safety month? If you did not, it’s probably because a successful restaurant operator knows that food safety is important every month…every day…and every hour. Their customers and employees expect it.

2014 is the National Restaurant Association's 20th year of National Food Safety Month

2014 is the National Restaurant Association’s 20th year of National Food Safety Month

According to the NFSM website, the event was created in 1994 by the National Restaurant Association to heighten awareness about the importance of food safety education. Each year has a different theme and for 2014 they highlight ‘20 tips for 20 years of National Food Safety Month‘ through videos, posters and training materials.

Step By Step; Week By Week

All the materials are based in  ServSafe® Food Safety Training Programs and broken into four weeks of general themes: Week 1: Cleaning and Santiizing Week 2: Cross-Contamination Week 3: Time-Temperature Control Week 4: Personal Hygiene Week 5: Allergens Operators can use the videos and quizzes on the site to educate their employees about the issues in simple terms. For example, a week 1 video on Cleaning and Sanitizing explained how bar surfaces where drink garnishes are cut need to be treated the same as a kitchen food prep surface. The video continues by showing the steps to safely treat that surface. http://youtu.be/m8RT3JOUqXo In week 2, the quiz asks a question to remind employees to always store fruits and vegetables above meats in the refrigerator to eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination from meat juices. Future weeks will also include poignant topics, including a video where people with food allergies talk about the dangers of allergic reactions from cross-contaminated or non-labeled ingredients in restaurant dishes.

An allergen kit includes separate utensils to use when working on an order with a specific allergen concern.

An allergen kit includes separate utensils to use when working on an order with a specific allergen concern.

More Information and Tools

Want to get your staff more involved in the program this month? Download the full 5 weeks of content in a PDF, or view the week-by-week activities on the NFSM website. And remember, Central Restaurant has all the supplies and tools your food service establishment needs to keep your employees and customers safe. Check out our selection of cleaning supplies, temperature control and allergen awareness, including the San Jamar Saf-T-Zone system to avoid cross-contamination.

peanuts

National Peanut Month: Menu Trends, Servingware Ideas and Handling Allergies

National Peanut Month

When it comes to peanuts, restaurants have become more brave when it comes to creatively incorporating them in their menus. They can now be found on everything from hamburgers to desserts and the peanut has really become an interesting ingredient to a menu.

March is National Peanut Month, which is an opportunity for peanut fans all over to celebrate their love for it. Not only is it a beloved menu item, peanuts play an important role in the United States as it brings in money. Below are some fun facts about peanuts from the National Peanut Board:

  • To make a 12 ounce jar of peanut butter, it takes 540 peanuts
  • Peanuts account for two-thirds of all snack nuts consumed in America
  • $4 billion is contributed to the United States economy each year from peanuts
  • Annually Americans consume an average of 1.5+ billion pounds of peanut butter and products

Menu Trends: Peanut Butter Can Go On Anything

Restaurants are becoming more adventurous, especially when it comes to peanut butter. Some chefs like to put a unique twist on a classic favorite, such as peanut butter and jelly, while others just want to try peanut butter with anything to see what customers end up loving.

shewman burger scotty's brewhouse peanut butter

Scotty’s Brewhouse Shewman Special Burger

One of the really popular peanut butter trends in restaurants is to put it on a burger. Scotty’s Brewhouse, regional chain in Indiana, serves the award-winning burger, the “Shewman Special.” This burger has a unique combination of flavors consisting of peanut butter, jalapenos, cheddar cheese and bacon.  Customers are apprehensive about the burger at first, but once they try it, they are hooked.

The Shelter Lounge in Seattle, Wash. used peanut butter to create a unique twist on the jalapeno popper with their PB&J Jalapeno Poppers. The appetizer has a panko breading and is stuffed with cream cheese and peanut butter.  To add the final touch, it is served with a sweet, spicy jelly.

Pizza is another menu item, similar to burgers, that might be hard to wrap your head around at first when it comes to using peanut butter.  However John’s Incredible Pizza Co., a chain of restaurants in California and Oregon, has seemed to blow customers away with their Spicy Peanut Butter Pizza.

Perhaps one of the most dedicated restaurants to peanut butter is New York’s Peanut Butter & Co. This restaurant has it all when it comes to peanut butter from the Cinnamon Raisin Swirl™ sandwich (mix of cinnamon raisin peanut butter and vanilla cream cheese stuffed with crisp apple slices) to the PB&J Pretzel Sunday™ (crunchy pretzel pieces on vanilla ice cream, topped with peanut butter and a raspberry sauce). While they have other menu items as well, peanut butter-based items are a majority of what they serve.

servingware peanut butter items

Slate Dinnerware

Servingware Ideas

When mixing a menu up to include a unique item, such as a twist with peanut butter, restaurants should think about the presentation of the item. The size of a plate, platter, bowl, etc., or the presentation can assist with cost savings and can give an overall impression of the restaurant as a whole.

For a classic and sleek presentation for appetizers, Oneida’s Swoop Specialty Porcelain plates and platters will wow diners. They have a contemporary design and are bright white which allows the menu item to stand out.

Pair Swoop Specialty plates and platters with American Metalcraft’s square sauce cups or Squavy™ porcelain bowls for a unique shape. Melamine options are available too with the white sleek look with American Metalcraft’s square melamine serving bowls and platters, and their flared melamine bowls.

In terms of dinnerware, there are many sleek, classic lines such as World Tableware’s Cafe Royal and Slate or Oneida’s Arcadia and Espree.  For dinnerware with more of a personality or color, Homer Laughlin’s Fiesta® dinnerware is always a very popular line, but there is also World Tableware’s Montego Bay or Syracuse China’s Cantina dinnerware that provide durability and lots of color.

For a unique feel, World Tableware recently introduced their Farmhouse line of dinnerware which is organically shaped and crafted.

Handling Allergies

According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), up to 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies. The number of children with a peanut allergy has tripled from 1997 to 1998 and peanuts are one of the eight foods that account for 90 percent of allergic reactions.  Even one small trace can cause a reaction which is important for restaurants to be aware of.

peanut allergy safety system

San Jamar’s Allergen Saf-T-Zone System

One of the most important things restaurants can do when it comes to food allergies is to have procedures put in place for food allergies and train all employees. Restaurants should implement a color-coded system to avoid cross-contamination so certain foods do not come in contact with others.

Cutting boards, cutlery and cut-resistant gloves are some of the many things that can be implemented in a color-coded system. For restaurants that want to delve in even further to keep diners safe, San Jamar has their Allergen Saf-T-Zone system which is a kit to use specifically for those with allergies.

It’s also important to talk with diners to ensure your kitchen can meet their needs. If not, it is okay to say no as their life might be on the line if you cannot guarantee even a trace of peanuts will not be in their meal. In the procedures, ensure there is full communication with all staff members in the front and back of the house.  Last, never be offended when a customer might ask to speak with the manager or have a dish sent back.

What are some of your favorite peanut menu items, or what do you serve in your restaurant? Comment below!