Most everything these days is so after-the-fact and, in some circumstances, a fire drill. Proper communicating, planning and budgeting are necessary when it comes to equipment maintenance, replacement or purchasing. Everything from small wares, such as a simple vegetable peeler, to larger pieces of processing equipment, like a meat grinder, often get neglected or forgotten about over time. restaurant-kitchen-406The old saying, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?,” often prevails when operators either don’t realize a potential issue, or worse, it is the end of the month, when there is a resistance to spending any extra money. The fear of
Continue Reading Preventive Equipment Maintenance: A Food Safety Priority

In the food industry, there are many instances where substitutes are used for a variety of purposes. Whether it is forced or by choice, the need to fill the exposed gap will have to get rectified when it comes to food processing in order to eliminate an interruption in business. What operators should also focus on when this happens are the basic potential pitfalls that are presented. If they are not identified, there cannot be a corrective action. Listed below are a few common scenarios:

  • Food packaging: Here is a hypothetical example that happens all too often. Your broad line


Continue Reading Beware of the Substitute

A critical element of food safety is maintaining proper temperatures from the field to the fork. In practical terms, this means keeping produce cold enough to inhibit pathogen growth or spoilage from the time it leaves the farm or orchard until it’s in the customer’s possession. http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-saleswoman-counter-offering-cheese-organic-supermarket-customer-image46778591It also means cooking certain foods at high enough temperatures for long enough to be safe and maintaining prepared, ready-to-eat (RTE) foods at the proper temperatures (and keeping frozen foods cold enough to remain that way). As implementation of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) come
Continue Reading Temperature Control: A Critical Food Safety Element

Ice is food.

Some food service operators and their employees take that fact for granted. They don’t take proper precautionary measures to handle the product properly or the necessary preventive maintenance measures to ensure that the ice machine is clean, sanitary and operating safely.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-scoop-ice-close-up-cubes-stainless-image53238196Listed below are some best practices and questions to ask. Some are basic and some are worth taking a second look.

  • Make sure to properly clean the floor drain, inspect for leaks, and remove any standing water on the floor under the ice machine. This can be a breeding area for drain/fruit flies or any other


Continue Reading Ice: The Overlooked Product

It’s all about the “buy in.” People need to believe in what they are doing, what makes it important, and have the knowledge to move forward in a positive direction. http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-successful-business-presentation-men-office-image32058573Here are some basic suggestions to get the food safety message across:

  • A simple “please” and “thank you” goes a long way. That may sound ridiculous, but it does not get expressed as often as it should. A “good morning” or “see you the next time” is essential. A strong first impression is critical as well.
  • Take extra time to help a struggling employee. Make it a point to let


Continue Reading Proper Communication: A Food Safety Priority

Log documentation involving temperature is a necessary tool in any food processing environment. Whether it is cold holding, hot holding, cooking, cooling, refrigeration, freezer or time controlled, temperature logs not only shed a light on whether an employee understands the process, but are also a strong indicator of potential liability. http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-middle-aged-man-working-bottling-factory-image29668190If left unchecked, no matter what log it is, you may be flirting with compromising someone’s health and exhibiting a lack of control. Temperature log documentation can become discoverable legal evidence in a court of law. If you don’t have the time, fudge the numbers, don’t record corrective actions or
Continue Reading Temperature Logs: A Misunderstood Liability

For much of the country, as the temperatures drop, there is increased activity of mice to find a harborage area. For any food operation, or homeowner, for that matter, this means an increased potential of infestation if some proactive measures are not taken to eliminate entry. Here are a few suggestions: 1. Think like a mouse. 2. Any hole, gap or crack leading directly outside must be either sealed or flush with the floor. If you see sunlight, chances are that gap may be large enough for a mouse to squeeze through. Simply using some type of spray foam to
Continue Reading Here Comes the Cold Weather — and Mus Musculus

With the new school year fast approaching, it should be a reminder to take the time to properly train and educate food handlers about food safety. Not only just to pass the test and get certified, but to live it, breathe it and foster a culture. Food safety has to be part of the daily routine, not just because the boss is coming for a visit or suddenly the health inspector is at the front door. Fire drills should be avoided. Food safety should be properly managed, not the inspection. People often forget what they learn in food safety class
Continue Reading Food Safety Education vs. Reality

Whether it is dripping from a refrigeration fan unit, beading on the interior packaging of an improperly cooled ready-to-eat food, causing rust on metal food contact surfaces of equipment or directly on frozen raw shrimp, condensation is a food safety concern and must be dealt with accordingly by anyone producing food. Excessive moisture from condensation helps bacteria to thrive, mold spores to grow, and even provides an open invitation for potential insect harborage. (I’ve actually seen wayward birds quenching their thirst from condensate that has formed on display ice cream freezers in a grocery sales area.) Warm and humid summer
Continue Reading Condensation: The Liquid Enemy

(This editorial is part of a series. You can find earlier entries here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.) Per Se, an upscale and expensive restaurant in Manhattan, found itself on ABC News recently – not for the great food, but for the less-than-stellar health inspection it received on Feb. 19, 2014. This disclosure went from a posted sign with a letter grade and a listing on NYC’s website to the living rooms of millions of people watching the evening news. Usually the reports involving restaurants focus on menu items, nutritional labeling and the occasional rodent caught
Continue Reading The ABCs of New York City’s Restaurant Grades: Part 4