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...]

Tales of Food Illness: E. Coli & Tuna Scrape

Last June, there were 2 food illness outbreaks that highlighted the complex nature of identifying and tracking food illness outbreaks nationwide. An outbreak relies heavily on each state's foodborne illness surveillance program. Some states are better than others, but as cases grow, it's important to understand there are probably many other unidentified cases not making it on the list, and food safety is at risk with contaminated product still being served. E. Coli O145 Food Illness Outbreak Now at 15 Cases Even though the number of cases is relatively low, what's concerning is that the CDC and state epidemiologists have yet to identify the cause. The cases are spread across 6 states … [Read more...]

Label Sanitizer Buckets

This week's tip is about labeling sanitizer buckets. It's important to understand that even if your red buckets are only used for sanitizer, they still need to be labeled in writing. Typically, red buckets come pre-labeled, but over time the writing wears off. The FDA Food Code specifically states that any container with chemicals needs to be labeled with the common name. As you can see in picture A, the buckets have the label printed on them. In picture B, you can see the same style bucket with no label. Once the sanitizer printing has worn off, make sure to write "sanitizer" or simply replace the bucket with a new one. … [Read more...]

Social Media Extortion: Foodborne Illness Edition

Everyone's familiar with the old way of foodborne illness extortion—"You made me sick so give me money or I'll call the health department!" This worked quite well in persuading some managers to give up at least free gift certificates. Now there's a new form of extortion happening by way of social media. The Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar in Sacramento, California, was faced with this reality. The owners were contacted by a customer who claimed he became ill by eating in their restaurant. The customer demanded $100, and if they didn't pay up, he would post a bad review on the popular restaurant review site Yelp. If you aren't familiar with Yelp, it's a site that allows users to post reviews … [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...]