Tag Archives: FDA

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?

Vending Machines and Menus Will Be Getting a Makeover

The health care reform legislation was signed into law on March 23, 2010 by President Obama. Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 will change the way menu boards, vending machines and menus look.

Part of this act requires food service establishments with 20 or more locations to list calorie content for standard menu items. Other nutritional information will need to be available upon request.

Vending machine operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines will also need to disclose calorie content for certain items.

The FDA wants to hear from you. The deadline for proposed regulations is March 23, 2011 and the FDA wants to know how you think the labeling requirements should be implemented.

To share your opinion visit the FDA website and follow the instructions. It’s simple and in just a few steps your opinion will be heard.

A crash course in food safety

Recent outbreaks of salmonella in the food supply have brought the restaurant and foodservice industry into the media spotlight. News of illness and recalls associated with spinach, tomatoes and jalapenos has been a serious cause for concern to those who make their livelihood in the foodservice industry. Yet, however widespread it appears to be, according to the National Restaurant Association, the U.S. food supply is the safest in the world.

While recent events have proven it is often difficult to know you’re purchasing food products from safe sources, operators can lessen the risk of receiving contaminated food products by washing hands frequently and thoroughly, not allowing employees to work when ill, segregating fresh produce from other refrigerated foods and washing fresh produce in running water before serving.

The Big Three

In addition to purchasing food from safe sources, other factors that contribute to food-borne illness in foodservice include time-temperature abuse; cross-contamination; and poor personal hygiene. The North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) refers to these as the “Big Three” of unsafe food handling:

  1. Time-temperature abuse occurs when cooked or raw foods are not held or stored at required temperatures; when food is not cooked or reheated to temperatures that kill microorganisms; and when foods are improperly cooled.
  2. Cross contamination occurs when bacteria is transferred among different surfaces and food items. For example, using a cutting board to cut raw meat, and then using it to slice fresh vegetables is a great way to transfer microorganisms.
  3. Last, your staff can transmit diseases through poor hygiene; for example, improper hand-washing, coughing or sneezing around food, handling food after touching open sores or scratches or coming to work when they are sick.

Foods most likely to cause problems

The FDA identifies several groups of foods that, by their nature, are more likely to become contaminated because of the way they are typically processed and handled during distribution:

  • Milk and milk products
  • Red meat and poultry
  • Fish, shellfish and crustaceans
  • Untreated raw eggs
  • Baked or boiled potatoes
  • Cooked rice and beans
  • Tofu or other soy-protein foods
  • Synthetic ingredients such as textured soy protein in meat alternatives
  • Garlic and oil mixtures
  • Sprouts and sprout seeds
  • Sliced melons

It is important that these food products are properly handled, stored and prepared. According to NAFEM, most foods outside these categories are more “forgiving” when it comes to handling abuse and the potential for foodborne illness. In the next section, we’ll go over some important HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) guidelines for safely handling these types of foods. The NRAEF (National Restaurant Association Education Foundation) is also a helpful tool for food safety guidance and training. The ServSafe program provides training and certification to foodservice professionals.

The 7 Principles of HACCP

HACCP is a systematic approach to the identification, evaluation and control of food safety hazards based on the following seven principles:

  1. Conduct a hazard analysis
  2. Determine the critical control points (CCPs)
  3. Establish critical limits
  4. Establish monitoring procedures
  5. Establish corrective actions
  6. Establish verification procedures
  7. Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures

For more information about HACCP guidelines and procedures, please visit FDA.gov.

Essential E&S

According to NAFEM, equipment manufacturers are driven more than ever before by a demand from the foodservice industry marketplace to design equipment and supplies that address these critical food safety and sanitation concerns. Here a just a few common items that promote sanitation and food safety:

  • Color-coded cutting boards. As mentioned earlier, using the same cutting board for raw meat and fresh vegetables could result in a foodservice nightmare. Using a set of color-coded boards helps prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen. You should use a different cutting board for fish, cooked foods, fruits and vegetables, poultry, and red meat.
  • Blast Chillers. Blast chillers are designed to rapidly chill cooked food through the temperature danger zone (135°F to 40°F) to assure food safety. Most models of blast chillers come equipped with probes for critical temperature monitoring and many even have on-board computers and printers for HACCP record-keeping.
  • No-touch faucet handles. Many faucets come with an option for wrist handles, which don’t require users to touch the faucet after washing their hands. More manufacturers are designing sinks and faucets that promote proper hand washing techniques.
  • Antimicrobial technology. A wide variety of equipment and supplies now come coated with antimicrobial protection to ward off bacteria. Everything from youth seating, mop handles, carts, slicers, shelving, dish dollies, thermometers, knives, gloves and floor mats are now available with Microban.
  • No-touch waste containers. Many manufacturers sell “no-touch” models of trash cans and other waste receptacles that don’t required users to make contact with the container. Lids are available in a variety of styles that promote cleanliness.
  • Sneeze Guards. Because the last thing you want is someone sneezing on your salad.
  • Safety Ice Scoop System. Another restaurant item that often gets negative media attention is ice, but using an ice scoop holder will remind staff not to leave the ice scoop in the bin, and most models prevent hands from touching the surface of the scoop.