The National Restaurant Association (NRA) is a great resource for important and late breaking restaurant industry news. Recently, they’ve pointed out a few new and current pieces of legislation we wanted to be sure you saw. Additional to reading these updates, be sure to bookmark them for important information and resources.
National Labor Relations Board Poster
Starting Jan. 31, 2012, per the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), all employers must post the National Labor Relations Act poster, which outlines employee’s rights to organize and bargain collectively. The poster is 11”x17” and originally had a mandatory post date of November 14; however, it’s been pushed back as the NLRB would like to continue to spread awareness. Click here to download the poster, and read more about it here on the NRA website.
On Oct. 1, the Federal Reserve implemented new regulations which put a cap on debit-card swipe fees for merchants.
The NRA said fees had been around 44 cents per transaction and now it is capped at 21 cents, plus 0.05 percent of the transaction amount. They estimate the new cap will positively affect the restaurant industry as companies will no longer be able to increase rates at any point in time. Read more about the new debit card swipe fee policy here.
Credit/Debit Card Receipts
Earlier in October, NRA posted an article reminding restaurants of The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003. It states businesses cannot show expiration dates and more than the last five digits of a credit card number on receipts. Read more from the NRA here.
Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more. It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!
1) Zagat, the worldwide restaurant guide, has had a pretty big week. First, they released their annual National Fast Food Restaurant Survey which covered 103 different chains. The 6,064 diners surveyed named Subway as the top Mega Chain, Five Guys as best Large Chain and Starbucks as the number one Quick Refreshment. Click here for a more comprehensive list of the survey results.
After releasing the survey, it was then announced that the company was being bought out by web giant Google. Zagat founders, Nina and Tim Zagat, plan to stay on to help with the guide’s expansion and assist Google in connecting more easily with local businesses.
2) Like Google, Dominos Pizza is also looking to expand its reach…all the way to the moon. The Japanese arm of the pizza chain announced that they are planning to build a base on the moon which will cost about $21 billion for construction, transportation and equipment. The goal of the base is to be available for those who may one day be working and eventually living on the moon. However, there is no actual date for when the project will begin.
3) With a rise in popularity, ultimately there will be a backlash. The current food truck trend is no exception to this rule. Food trucks all over the country have been running into regulations and lawsuits over everything from proximity to tax issues. This is where Bert Gall comes in to save the day. According to the Wall Street Journal, “A senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, Gall directs the institute’s National Street Vending Initiative, which bills itself as ‘a nationwide effort to vindicate the right of street vendors to earn an honest living by fighting unconstitutional vending restrictions in courts of law and the court of public opinion’.” So if your food truck is in trouble, Bert Gall is the man to have on your side.
4) This month is the 17th Annual National Food Safety Education Month (NFSEM). NFSEM encourages a focus on food safety education and training within the foodservice industry. This year, there will be free weekly training sessions, tips and downloads all available at www.ServSafe.com/nfsem. According to the NRA Show site, “All NFSEM materials are based on the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe® food safety training and certification program.”
5) September is also Hunger Action Month which was launched by Feeding America. The point of Hunger Action Month is to raise awareness of hunger relief throughout the world and encourage the public to step into action to eliminate it domestically. By visiting the Hunger Action Month site, you can find local events and food banks, see where the highest rate of hunger is in your state and even watch videos like the one below.
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:
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.
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.
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
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:
Conduct a hazard analysis
Determine the critical control points (CCPs)
Establish critical limits
Establish monitoring procedures
Establish corrective actions
Establish verification procedures
Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures
For more information about HACCP guidelines and procedures, please visit FDA.gov.
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.