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...]