Here at The Back Burner we have talked a lot about food safety. It’s an ongoing project for any restaurateur, and also a potential matter of life and death for any foodservice business given the stakes if a food borne illness were to break out in your restaurant.
So instead of sitting here in my ivory tower writing blog articles about the importance of this or that food safety procedure or product, I decided to get out from behind my computer (a rare occurrence, I must say!) and venture out into the real world for a closer look at the practical application of a food safety program in a real restaurant.
Turley’s Restaurant in Boulder, CO is a family owned business that has been a Boulder icon since 1977. Their eclectic menu focuses on diversity and healthy eating while serving exquisite flavors and beautiful presentation.
Turley’s management also take their food safety program very seriously. Sandy and David are second and third generation Turley family, respectively, and they took a moment recently to talk about food safety in their restaurant.
Every good food safety program has a primary line of defense at critical points in the process of turning product and ingredients into entrees ready to be eaten, and the line in the kitchen is definitely one of those points.
Turley’s two-date temperature logs allow line cooks to track product over time and make sure it’s staying out of the temperature danger zone between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is prime bacteria breeding weather.
The restaurant equipment on the line is also checked and logged routinely by line cooks to ensure they are reaching the proper temperature, and the high-temp dishwasher is also monitored to make sure it’s sanitizing dishes at 180 degrees. Turley’s management then spot checks product and equipment at random to make sure accurate readings are being logged by the kitchen staff. Their preferred method for checking temperature is a quick-read digital thermometer.
“It’s an evolving process,” says David as he shows me the temperature logs he prints for his line cooks. “It gets involved very quickly, but if you make people sick, you’re out of business.”
A recent evolution at Turley’s has been identifying problem product that has trouble staying out of the danger zone and putting it in freezer pans to make sure it chills quickly and stays below 40 degrees even if it’s pulled frequently for use on the line.
The process of collecting data, analyzing it and identifying trouble spots, then developing a solution is what makes a food safety program effective. It’s also a cycle that must be repeated consistently to make sure your restaurant is a success.
Please stay tuned as we talk further with Turley’s management David and Sandy and get some important tips on staff training and their philosophy on a successful food safety program.
Visit Turley’s if you’re in Boulder at 2805 Pearl St., Boulder, CO 80302.