No Bare Hand Contact Battle Heads to North Carolina

Recently we watched as Oregon restaurant chefs were successful in convincing state officials to opt out of the "no bare hand contact with ready to eat foods" rule from the 2009 FDA Food Code. They cited increased waste from extensive glove use and a disconnection in the food handling process if they aren't able to directly touch food items. Now North Carolina is in the same position. North Carolina has adopted the 2009 Food Code. This means that on September 1 chefs will no longer be able to handle food with bare hands. Just like Oregon, chefs are upset about it. One restaurant owner, Spero Poulos, actually said that he can't tell when mushrooms are bad unless he can feel them. That's a … [Read more...]

No Bare Hand Contact Rule Confuses Oregon Restaurants

Oregon restaurants are all up in arms about a new health rule set to go into effect July 1. No bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods first surfaced in the FDA Food Code in 1993, when states and restaurant industry professionals worked together to apply a comprehensive approach to hand washing as well as limited bare hand contact with food, but it has taken until this year for Oregon to join the discussion. Many Oregon restaurants see this rule as unnecessary. The 2009 FDA Food Code, the most recent version, doesn't allow bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods, and Oregon restaurant operators don't like it. They're afraid it will cost more money and lead to more waste, and they're … [Read more...]

USDA Outlaws More Strains of Dangerous E. Coli

There are more than 700 strains of E. coli today. Each one affects the body differently. Most are harmless while others can cause death after a long excruciating fight. The most dangerous E. coli strains are from the Shiga toxin–producing E. coli (STEC), and the most common is O157:H7. Until this week, that was the only strain the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) was requiring testing for in raw beef products. Now, after much debate and petitions, 6 more strains of STEC have been added to the list of banned E. coli. It would seem that all E. coli found in food should be banned but that just isn't the case. It costs too much money to test for all strains. What makes the STEC strains … [Read more...]

Food Safety Starts with Smart Restaurant Kitchen Design

Designing restaurant kitchens can be very complicated. There are many factors to be considered when planning where to put equipment and what materials to use. Health departments require detailed documents showing the site plan, floor plan, equipment layout and plumbing/mechanical/finish schedules even before any construction begins. These plans should be developed with food safety in mind. The information in this post can be used as a general guide to help new restaurateurs understand health regulations when designing their kitchens. Site Plan A site plan should show the facility and surrounding areas such as parking, storm drains and garbage areas. Most operators want the option to spray … [Read more...]

Restaurants: Provide Allergy Info to Protect Customers and Your Business

More and more, food allergies are becoming a big issue. As it is now, around 15 million people have a food allergy, and this number is growing. The CDC is reporting an 18 percent increase in food allergies from 1997–2007, and the prevalence of peanut allergies among children tripled in that same time period. These 8 foods account for 90 percent of all food allergies: Milk Eggs Peanuts Tree nuts: walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans Wheat Soy Fish Shellfish: crab, crayfish, lobster, shrimp With so many people having food allergies, it's important to properly disclose what foods have allergens. Commercially packaged products are required to disclose allergens, … [Read more...]

Your Field Guide to Food Safety at Festivals & Fairs

  With the festivals and fairs season approaching, it’s important to be mindful of food safety. It can be quite tricky deciding which food to choose. You might find it hard to decide if you want to eat the deep-fried pig ears, fudge-covered scorpion or sautéed mealworms. For me, I’m not concerned with the type of food as much as how it’s handled, stored and prepared. When at a festival or fair, take a closer look at the vendors before you eat their food. There are many factors that can lead to foodborne illness from the temporary food vendors at these events, and you should know what they are. Oftentimes, temporary food vendors are part-time cooks and may not have a complete knowledge of … [Read more...]

Food Safety Training Tug of War

  All over the country, health districts and food industry representatives are debating the best way to train food service workers in critical food safety areas. Some districts have only recently required training, such as California, while others have been providing it for decades. Ensuring all food service employees have proper and effective food safety training is an extremely important factor in reducing foodborne illness and both local health departments and the food industry have a vested interest to ensure it continues to improve. In the past, many health departments had direct control over food safety training in their areas, but many of these programs haven't been updated since … [Read more...]