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...]

Food Safety Report

Food safety stories are always in headlines. Here's information on one with a confirmed outbreak, one with an outbreak but kept anonymous, another banned from serving raw meat, and a restaurant in Wisconsin closed for unsanitary conditions. Margarita's Linked to 200 Norovirus Cases A Michigan restaurant, Margarita's, is suspected in a norovirus outbreak. So far, 200 people who ate at the restaurant have become ill. The Ottowa County Health Department closed the restaurant after confirming the norovirus cases. Health Department Not Disclosing Source of E. coli Outbreak Last April, a restaurant in Orange County, California, was linked to an E. coli outbreak from romaine lettuce. … [Read more...]

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...]

Foodborne Illness Outbreaks Can Happen Anywhere

Most of the largest outbreaks we track come from contaminated food that results in many foodborne illness cases across the country, but it's important to understand that restaurants, public picnics and other food establishments run the risk of large-scale foodborne illness outbreaks when they handle contaminated food improperly. The following are foodborne illness outbreaks associated with individual food establishments: Denny's Salmonella Foodborne Illness Outbreak Three people were hospitalized with Salmonella Montevideo infections after eating at Denny's in Rochester, Minnesota. Health officials still aren't sure how the bacteria entered the restaurant, but they required Denny's … [Read more...]