No Food Safety Plan Means Salmonella Could Land on Customer Plates

Salmonella is one of the most common types of food poisoning. Infection can result in diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps; however, more serious cases can lead to hospitalization, organ failure and even death. As a restaurant inspector, it never ceases to amaze me how cavalier some restaurants are with their food-handling practices. I've talked with so many owners who think foodborne illness can never happen to them despite the laundry list of critical violations they racked up on their last inspection. Unfortunately, it takes a foodborne illness outbreak that results in personal injury to their customers and lawsuits that result in paying major damages, which can often lead to closing the … [Read more...]

How an Internal Audit Will Improve Food Safety

An internal audit is necessary to ensure effective food safety plans. Many food operations are inspected by regulatory agencies yearly or quarterly to check to see that they are following proper food safety procedures. The frequencies that these establishments are inspected are essentially inadequate to preventing foodborne illness. If they were as effective as we hoped, then there wouldn't be any outbreaks, but foodborne illness outbreaks are part of our common food environment. This is a big reason driving the new FSMA regulations. Food processor businesses and retail outlets, such as restaurants, should incorporate their own internal audits or inspections to verify their food safety … [Read more...]

Why Restaurants Should Have a Consumer Advisory

Almost all full-service restaurants offer food that can be served undercooked: steak, eggs, tuna, sushi, oysters, etc. In fact, many customers prefer it. The FDA requires a consumer advisory to inform the customer of this risk. In the FDA Food Code, there are 2 points to the consumer advisory: Identifying the food items it pertains to with an asterisk Health statement The health statement should say something like this: "Thoroughly cooking foods of animal origin such as beef, eggs, fish, lamb, pork, poultry, or shellfish reduces the risk of foodborne illness. Individuals with certain health conditions may be at high risk if these foods are consumed raw or undercooked." Not … [Read more...]

Double Hand Washing Is Essential

Did you know that when restaurant and other food-service employees use the bathroom, they have to wash their hands in the bathroom and then again before they return to their duties? That's right—a double hand washing! The FDA food code specifically states that double hand washing is necessary before workers go back to their duties. There are 3 essential reasons for this hand washing policy: It's a simple yet very effective tool in reducing the possibility of a foodborne illness occurring in a facility. Customer perception should be a concern. If an employee comes back from the restroom and continues to take food to tables, etc., without going back to the kitchen first to wash … [Read more...]

HACCP Plans Are for Anyone Handling Food

When I talk to people about HACCP or ask if they have a HACCP plan, most think it only applies to large operations, but in fact anyone handling food in any way could use HACCP principles to make sure they are safely preparing food. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points system. This system can be used at every stage in the food chain, from farms and food processors to retail outlets like supermarkets and restaurants. We could go into great detail about how large operations use HACCP starting with assembling a team, designing flow diagrams, and decision trees, but some of these principles are a bit overkill for small retail operations. Let's break this down for the … [Read more...]

FSMA Is Coming: Are You Ready?

This past weekend I was at the local farmers market meeting with local food manufacturers and processors. I wanted to get their take on the new pending federal regulations called FSMA, or Food Safety Modernization Act. What I found was most of them had no idea about the new regulations. It got me wondering if domestic food processors are ready for these new restrictions If you're a food processor or you know someone who is, this overview of the new rules will be helpful. What Is FSMA? FSMA was signed into law by President Obama in 2011 and so far encompasses documents with thousands of pages, but let's try to break it down in the most basic terms. FSMA's goal is to prevent problems that … [Read more...]

Spanish Food Safety Workshops

This past year, Respro started having Spanish food safety workshops. Some would call it a "class," but there are no books, notepads, pencils or tests. It's an honest discussion of food safety topics for Spanish-speaking staff members in restaurants. After a one-hour sit-down discussion, it's common for a tour to be given with the staff and Spanish-speaking food safety professionals in their own restaurant. Open dialogue is had with staff members about their positions, discussing what food safety issues they may be faced with and how to deal with them. Many of our clients have expressed concerns with not having access to enough food safety training materials in Spanish. There are plenty … [Read more...]