Tag Archives: food

Week in Brief: February 28-March 2

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Here are five stories from the foodservice industry for February 27-March 2.

Growing Number of Americans Can’t Afford Food, Study Finds

From HuffingtonPost.com, read article here.

In a recent report from the Food Research and Action Center, a nonprofit research group, 1 out of every 5 Americans, or 18.6%, told Gallup pollsters that they couldn’t always afford to feed their family.  Although the unemployment rate has fallen in the past few months and one would think the amount of income being spent on food would increase, the percentage has actually decreased.  Factors such as increases in food and gas prices, as well as decreases in income for most low-to middle-class Americans, contributed to this decrease in money spent.

The report also found that only 12% of voters believe our country spends too much money on food assistance programs.  78% believe we should spend more or the same amount on food stamp and other food assistance programs, due to our growing disastrous economic outlook. Read the full article on HuffingtonPost.com

School Cafeterias To Celebrate National School Breakfast Week March 5-9

From SchoolNutrition.org, read press release here.

Next week (March 5-9), school cafeterias across the country will celebrate National School Breakfast Week.  The slogan this year is titled, “School Breakfast – Go for Gold”; its focus will be on encouraging students to eat healthy breakfasts at school, which studies have shown improve a student’s behavior in class,  test scores, and lessens sick and tardy days.

“School Breakfast – Go for Gold” will incorporate special menus and breakfast recipes, as well as puzzles and brainteasers to help students use their brains before starting class.  They are even offering students the chance to design their own t-shirts that highlight the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast.  Read the full press release on schoolnutrition.org

Sugar Should be Regulated Like Alcohol, Tobacco, Commentary Says

From CBSNews.com, read the article here.

A new commentary published in the February issue of Nature says sugar is as toxic as alcohol and tobacco, so it should be regulated similarly in order to curb its consumption.  (Photo supplied by MorgueFile.com)

According to the authors, sugar consumption has tripled over the last 50 years, causing a 30% increase in obesity.  They argue that sugar is toxic to the body due to its consumption often resulting in chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, and that it is potentially addictive because it acts on the same part of the brain.

The authors argue that’s why the government should step in and regulate sugar consumption among consumers, by taxes, age restrictions and other policies.  Read the full article on cbs.com

Still Hungry?  Many Americans Having a ‘Second’ Breakfast

From USAToday.com, read the article here.

Due to the current fast-paced society, most Americans don’t have time for a sit-down breakfast, so many are grabbing ‘on-the-go’ snacks to carry them through the morning until lunch.  Many food companies are now marketing toward this trend by introducing smaller snacks that tend to be lower in calories and filled with fiber in order to curb appetites, since consumer seem to be more calorie-conscious in the mornings.

General Mills introduced its Fiber One bars, both in a 140-calorie and 90-calorie option, while Quaker Oats is focused on selling its banana nut bar, which also has 140 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.

Yet, this snacking habit could lead to overindulging and extra calories and pounds, say experts.  The key is to limit your amount of calories, while still fueling your body consistently throughout the day to receive the energy it needs.  Read the full article on USAToday.com

Upcoming Food Holidays in March

From Gone-ta-Pott.com, read the list here.

March is a month full of National food holidays!  Here’s just a short list of what holidays fall in March:

–Maple Sugar Month

–National Nutrition Month

–National Frozen Food Month

–Great American Meatout Month (You know Man vs. Food will be all over this!)

–National Peanut Month

–National Sauce Month

–National Flour Month

–National Noodle Month

–International Hamburger and Pickle Month

Read the complete list on Gone-ta-Pott.com


10 Tips for Food Safety

Is your foodservice establishment following safe food handling practices?  Whether you’re a restaurant or school cafeteria, food safety should always be a top priority.  Over time (especially during peak meal times), employees may become lackadaisical to food safety.  Be sure to remind them how important it is and use these tips to ensure your establishment is safe for your customers.

1. Thoroughly cook food. 

Under-cooking food runs the risk of making your customers ill in a variety of ways from food poisoning to E.Coli.  Use a thermometer to ensure foods are cooked thoroughly and maintain a safe temperature if left out.  Food Safe Schools put together this PDF which gives a reference on control time and temperature.

2. Avoid cross contamination.

From our Cross Contamination Prevention Guide, did you know cross contamination is the sixth largest contributing factor to food borne illness?  Avoid cross contamination and make it easier for restaurant workers by using a color coded system. There is a commonly used color scheme used for cutting boards, knives and gloves. Read more in our Cross Contamination Prevention Guide.


3. Wash hands and change gloves frequently.

There are times when it’s okay to be conservative to save money, but when it comes to food safety, it’s never okay to put anyone at risk for the sake of saving a few dollars. Employees must wash hands and change gloves frequently, especially between tasks and upon exiting/entering the kitchen.  To put the importance into perspective, review Foodbeast’s “Handwashing Awareness & Helpful Tips” infographic.

4. Stick by the two hour rule.

If food has been sitting out at room temperature for two or more hours, get rid of it.

5. Accommodate guests with food allergies.

Food allergies are serious and create a variety of reactions from discomfort to anaphylactic shock.  Note on menus or menu cards if items contain or are around certain foods.  Also, post signage and put in menus a request for customers with allergies to inform the wait staff.  In return, employees must understand the seriousness of food allergies and convey the information to the kitchen.  Some of the top food allergies are peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, dairy, eggs, soy, gluten and wheat. 

6. Have a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM). 

iPura covers this in their blog “FDA Retail Food Safety Initiative—Focus on Protection,” which is a FDA initiative that will become more well known as time moves on.  Establishments with a CFPM are more compliant with regulations and have less risk factors.  Straight from their action plan, the duties of a CFPM are to make their presence a common practice, strengthen active managerial control at retail to ensure better compliance, encourage widespread, uniform and complete adoption of the FDA Food Code and to create an enhanced local regulatory environment for retail food operations.

7. Utilize food rotation labels.

Food labels  help employees know which foods are fresh, which foods need to be used quickly and which foods are no longer good for use and need to be discarded.  Ecolab has put together an entire page dedicated to food rotation which includes their “First In, First Out” method to ensure food is served fresh and is safe.

8. Be familiar with your food supplier. 

Smart Blog on Restaurants covers this in their blog, “Food Safety Checklist for Restaurants.”  By knowing your food distributor and using a trusted one, you can work with them to ensure food is safe and of the best quality.  SmartBlog also has this reminder, which is similar to what we said earlier about never sacrificing food safety to save some money: “Be wary of suppliers that are guided solely by price; food safety as a cost, but it’s worth the investment.”

9. Wash foods properly.

Photo by Maxstraeten on MorgueFile.com

That being said, kitchens should also know which foods aren’t recommended for washing.  There are quite a few specifics when it comes to proper food washing and the USDA has put together this “Safe Food Handling” guide on their website to help with proper food washing methods.


10. Create a plan and stick to it.

Make sure you have safe food handling practices and your employees follow them.  It’s a serious matter.  Employees must know safe food handling practices are one of the most important aspects to their job and everyone needs to comply.

How does your foodservice establishment handle food safety? What are some methods that have been successful?

Why is Everything So Small? The Rising Popularity of the Small Plate Meal

Appetizers; Image from MorgueFileIt seems like no matter what restaurant you may stop into for a bite, you can’t miss items like tiny lamb kabobs, small shrimp skewers and a generally miniature version of just about anything. It seems choices like sliders are no longer just a novelty saved for the likes of White Castle, but have become commonplace everywhere from high end eateries to your local Houlihan’s.  According to a recent list put out by The Nation’s Restaurant News, small plates will be even bigger in 2011, placing at number 13 on their top 20 list of food trends in the coming year.

So why do we have this sudden obsession with the little things in our food life?  One of the answers could lie in our internet habits.  A study of internet use in Korean teenagers may have proved that the web isn’t the gateway to obesity as many believe.  They studied teens with light, moderate and heavy internet “addiction” and found that those falling under the heavy addiction actually tended to eat smaller meals on average.  One answer as to why this happened comes from a Salon.com article by Sara Breselor.  Breselor advises to “Considerate it (smaller portions/plates) the dining equivalent of updating your Facebook status…”   If you look at it this way, it’s only logical that with the growing popularity of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook that seeing smaller portions has also increased.

A second thought on the attractiveness of this new petite movement may be due to the economy.  After all, isn’t it common to downsize when in a financial downturn?  The average chain restaurant, like the Cheesecake Factory and California Pizza Kitchen, have recently turned to this thrifty option as a way to cut costs, but not sacrifice taste and options.  Using undersized portions allows for customers, as well as the kitchen, to test out new combinations without breaking anyone’s bank.  This alternative also tends to help add more items to the check and has increased wine-by-the-glass purchases, according to an article from Nestle Professional.

A final, and seemingly obvious, reason for the trend is it’s “health” benefits.  Like most fads in the cuisine arena, small plates have been thought to be able to lend a hand in weight loss.  In terms of portion, according to a study done by Calgary University in Canada, how much a person eats is directly related to the kind of plate they use.  This means, the smaller the plate, the smaller the portion, the smaller the portion, the less you eat, the less you eat, the less weight you gain.  However, not only does the portion size make small plates an appealing choice but the common options add to the “diet” appeal.  Most of these snack-sized alternatives are guided by the traditional Spanish tapas which focus on proteins and vegetables.  As anyone who’s followed a low-carb diet knows, these items are a diet’s best friend because they tend to provide nutrients and flavor without the starchy, fatty side effects.

If you’re looking for great places to try this new trend:
In Indianapolis, check out:  Mesh, Zing, Iozzo’s Garden of Italy and
Zest! Exciting Food Creations

Nationwide, check out:  Barcelona Tapas, Cheesecake Factory,
Houlihan’s and California Pizza Kitchen

Is eating junk food addictive? A new study says yes.

Source: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

According to a new study published this past Sunday in “Nature Neuroscience,”  junk food can be as addictive as cocaine or nicotine.   In addition, the study says that these foods can also lead to compulsive eating and obesity.

Using rats, researchers found that high-calorie foods can trigger addiction-like responses in the brain, turning rats into compulsive eaters.  These overweight rats had decreased levels of a specific dopamine reception, as has been reported in humans addicted to drugs.

Although researchers have been able to find these statements to be true about rats, they are unable to directly relate them to human behavior and activity at this time.   However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned.  Take a look at these startling statistics:

How can we protect ourselves?  Just monitor your habits; moderation is key.   According to one researcher from the junk food study first mentioned,  Paul Kenny of The Scripps Research Institute in Florida, eating one or two foods with high calorie counts is not the problem.  “What we’re seeing in our animals is very similar to what you’d see in humans who overindulge,” he said. “It seemed that it was okay, from what we could tell, to enjoy snack foods, but if you repeatedly overindulge, that’s where the problem comes in.”