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 Alert: What’s Going On at Jimmy John’s?

The Northwest Indiana Porter County Health Department is investigating 60 cases of norovirus that may be linked to the local Jimmy John's. The ill people reported symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and indigestion. Twenty of the cases were rescue workers at the scene of a 3-train crash in Valparaiso on Friday. Jimmy John's provided food to those workers. On Sunday, reports of illness started coming in. On Monday, other reports of illness came in from people not working at the scene of the crash but who also ate food from the same Jimmy John's. These details all point to Jimmy John's as the possible source of the outbreak. More details here: Norovirus Behind Outbreak in Indiana Jimmy … [Read more...]

How Employee Illness Can Affect Restaurants

  These days more and more outbreaks are associated with sick employees passing their illnesses to other people while at work. Having employees working while sick is one of the most reckless things any manager or owner of a food establishment can do. Sick employees can transmit illnesses to other employees or, even worse, pass them to customers. Check out what happened at an Illinois McDonald's that led to 34 cases of hepatitis A: Illinois Department of Health Links Hepatitis A Outbreak to Employee Handwashing Sick Employee Policy It is crucial that all restaurants have a solid sick employee policy. Many restaurant managers give employees two options for when employees are sick: 1) … [Read more...]

Tips to Avoid Bare Hand Contact with Food

You won't find a more debated or controversial topic between food safety inspectors and the restaurant industry than bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods. According to the FDA, you can't do it. This results in many chefs having to wear gloves. As an inspector myself, I've heard all the arguments: "I don't have to wear gloves because I wash my hands so often. "I can't prepare the food properly with gloves on." "If I can't feel the fish while cutting it, then I'll cut my hand!" "The plastic in the gloves changes the taste of the food." For the most part, none of these arguments get very far during an inspection. The food industry either needs to provide better ways to prevent … [Read more...]

Hand Washing 101

  Proper hand washing is the best defense against foodborne illness and spreading disease. There are many opportunities in a full-service restaurant for the transmission of disease when good hand washing practices are not implemented. Proper Hand Washing Procedure Food employees should wash their hands for 20 seconds using a cleaning compound in a hand wash sink in the following order: Rinse hands under clean, running warm water. Apply cleaning compound. Rub hands together vigorously for at least 10–15 seconds. Remove soil from underneath fingernails. Thoroughly rinse hands under clean, running warm water. Dry hands with a disposable drying towel or hot air. For more on … [Read more...]

Prevent Cross-Contamination in Food

  Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, hands, cutting boards, utensils, etc. The most common form of cross-contamination is from mishandling raw meats. By not separating raw meats from each other as well as from ready-to-eat foods, you are increasing the risk of foodborne illness. Food Storage Foods should be stored in this order if on the same rack: TOP: Ready-to-eat foods/produce/cooked meats Raw fish Raw beef and pork BOTTOM: Raw chicken As you can see, raw chicken should always be on the bottom. If raw chicken is stored above produce, the potential for salmonella from the chicken to contaminate the produce will increase. Eating … [Read more...]

Reduce Your Risk of Foodborne Illness, Control Critical Violations

Respro Food Safety Professionals is an organization of licensed health inspectors dedicated to supporting the restaurant industry in food safety education. We do this through on-site inspections, supplemental training, and food safety consulting. This blog will provide training and tips on the best practices for controlling food safety in restaurants and other food service facilities. Every day, food establishments accept and handle food items that are already contaminated with pathogens that can make your customers sick. Good management practices and policies should be in place to properly manage critical areas of your food operation. Listed below are the 10 most important areas that, if … [Read more...]