eTundra Categories

Tag Archives | Food Safety

How to Clean a Commercial Griddle

How to Clean a Commercial Griddle

If you ask 10 professional chefs how to clean a commercial griddle, you’re likely to get 10 different answers.

There are several ways to skin the proverbial cat.

While cleaning methods and materials may differ from chef to chef, the goal is universal: a clean, sanitary griddle that allows for efficient cooking and delicious, unadulterated food.

What You’ll Need

It usually takes 5-10 minutes to properly clean a grill.

Directions

  • While the griddle is hot, pour 1 cup of cooking oil (you can use fryer oil) onto the griddle surface.
  • Scrub the griddle surface with a griddle brick/pumice stone, making small concentric circles—Miyagi style—until the surface is clean.
  • Scrape the oil into the grease trough and discard. Turn the griddle off.
  • Pour (carefully) 1 cup of club soda/seltzer water onto the still-hot griddle. The carbonation helps loosen and lift stubborn grease.
  • Scrub the griddle surface with your griddle brick/pumice stone, making small concentric circles until the surface is clean. Scrape remaining liquid into the trough for discarding.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of vinegar onto the griddle surface, spreading liquid out evenly across the entire surface and not allowing the vinegar to pool.
  • Rub the griddle surface with a rag, making small concentric circles until the surface is polished.
  • Scrape the vinegar into your grease trough and discard.
  • Rub the surface with a rag soaked in cooking oil to polish and reseason the steel.
  • Bask in the warm glow of your newly cleaned griddle.

“How Often Should I Clean My Commercial Griddle?”

If your griddle sees heavy daily use, we advise cleaning it daily. This will prevent flavor transfer, efficiency loss and unsightly burnt-oil-flake contamination.

Shop griddle supplies at eTundra.com:

Before taking action from the content or resources published here, we request that you visit and review our terms of use.

Continue Reading

Scrutinize Your Restaurant: Avoiding Health Inspector Issues

An ever-present aspect of the food service industry is the inevitable visit from the local health inspector. All too often restaurants fall into the habit of just squeaking by when it comes to inspections, doing the bare minimum to pass, instead of regularly putting good food safety procedures into practice. I’m here to give you a few pointers geared towards maintaining a restaurant that keeps food safety, for customers and staff, at the forefront.

Food borne illnesses are suffered by an estimated 81,000 people every year, according to the FDA. Additionally, 9,000 deaths result from preventable food-related illnesses, and food borne pathogens still stand as the leading cause of emergency room visits in the United States.

With this in mind, are you doing what’s best for your customers when it comes to serving them foodScrutinize Your Restaurant: Avoiding Health Inspector Issues

There are 4 acceptable options for storing your “in-use” utensils:

  • In the food with the handle extended out
  • In a dry, clean place
  • In a dipperwell or similar appliance with potable running water
  • Stored in temperatures of 135 degrees F and above, or 41 degrees F and below

As simple as these options are to employ, health inspectors still come across some pretty appalling practices:  knives wedged into grease-filled cracks between restaurant equipment, utensils hung from food-encrusted magnetic strips, or serving utensils in standing water with floating debris. Now imagine this from a customer’s standpoint. Disgusting, I know.

Storage of food service utensils goes hand-in-hand with maintaining the quality of those utensils. Always examine the edges of what you’re using. Cracks, chips, breaks, and frays in any of your utensils can lead to a customer finding something unappetizing in their meal like slivers of wood or metal from handles and blades. While these areas can be difficult to clean, they pose the most threat when it comes to food safety. Check these problem areas as you make your kitchen rounds, and train your staff to do the same.

Aside from properly storing your serving utensils there are a number of steps you can take as a manger or staff member that, when combined, will contribute to better food safety practices. If you make food safety an everyday priority then the next time the health inspector stops in you’ll be ready.

Scrutinize Your Restaurant: Avoiding Health Inspector IssuesHowever, if you’re just starting to address aspects of your establishment that might not meet the health inspector’s standards it’s a good idea to conduct your own inspections.

Come in unannounced. Surprise your employees on occasion and come in early. Observe how your staff behaves when you’re not expected, and see if there are any food safety issues that need to be addressed.

Use the local health inspection form. Get your hands on a copy of the local health inspection form to help you understand what criteria the inspector will use to evaluate your restaurant. Familiarize yourself with what they’ll be looking for, and regularly monitor the areas you’re having trouble with.

Conduct a thorough walkthrough. Be as objective as you can and approach your restaurant with fresh eyes. This may be difficult, as it’s often hard to scrutinize something you feel strongly about, but it’s exactly what the health inspector’s going to do.

Speak with your employees. Your employees are the front line of your establishment, and are the ones who will (or won’t) adhere to food safety procedures. View your walkthrough as a training experience for new and old employees alike, being specific about what is acceptable and what is not. This way they’re not as on edge when the inspector comes and will already have the know-how to keep things up to code.

Identify problems and fix them. Easier said than done in some cases, identifying your restaurant’s problem areas and coming up with solutions is more than a one person job. Don’t assume that just because you’ve outlined your food safety strategies with your employees that these strategies are being followed. Make it common practice to re-check for violations, and constantly reward employees for quickly correcting mistakes. With a little enthusiasm you can easily avoid sick customers, and worse yet a lawsuit. It’s a team effort, you’re just the captain.

Do yourself, your staff, and your customers a favor and re-evaluate your food safety program. Flush out potential holes, and commend yourself for things you’re doing well. Practicing proper food safety is just that, a practice. It takes constant attention to detail and a determination to not only “beat” the health inspector but to provide a complete picture of sanitary performance.

 

Continue Reading

Share Your Story of Restaurant Mayhem

The United States has faced devastating disasters in the last 10 years that have not only affected families, but businesses too.

  • In 2005, Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest hurricanes in recent history, hit the Gulf Coast.  In a 90,000 square mile area,  thousands of local residents were left Share Your Story of Restaurant Mayhemunemployed and homeless while the death toll rose to more than 1,800 people and the total cost of damage was estimated at $125 billion.
  • Midsummer of 2012 ignited another catastrophic disaster – the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado. This fire was named the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history: killing 2 people, burning 346 homes, forcing an evacuation of 32,000 people and smoldering 18,247 acres.
  • Most recently, Hurricane Sandy aka ‘Frankenstorm’ ripped across the east coast. The death toll has risen to approximately 109 people while 17,500,000 people were affected and an estimated $60 billion in damages (see this compelling Katrina vs. Sandy comparison by the Huffington Post).

Now more than ever, restaurant owners are learning what it means to prepare for a natural disaster – like those aforementioned, as well as the numerous earthquakes, floods, tornadoes and other catastrophic  weather patterns that have devastated our nation. Precautionary steps need to be made for before, during and after an event: building and food care, evacuation plans, support needs, etc. Unfortunately, the lack of available resources to learn more about what this means is few and far between.

Share Your Story

Share Your Story of Restaurant MayhemShare Your Story of Restaurant Mayhem
That is why we need you! Your story can be extremely valuable to other restaurant owners, not only in the US, but around the globe…
  • What is it like to live through a natural disaster?
  • What did you do to protect your business?
  • What didn’t you do that you wish you would have done to prevent damage?

We would love the opportunity to hear your story, and in return, your story could be published in our next flyer publication! We send our quarterly flyer to 250K independent restaurant owners nationwide and, of course, you would get the opportunity view the article before it goes to print.

If you are interested please share your restaurant’s mayhem story; we can’t wait to hear your story!

Continue Reading

BPA: Helping You Make the Right Choice for your Restaurant

BPA: Helping You Make the Right Choice for your RestaurantBisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used as a building block in certain plastics and resins since the 1960’s. Furthermore, BPA is found in many food storage containers made of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers made with BPA or into your body when you handle BPA products causing health effects on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. Though this topic remains controversial and many plastics companies say there isn’t risk associated with BPA, consumers are starting to pay close attention to the plastics they handle.

The Food and Drug Administration now shares this level of concern and is taking steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply industry by finding alternatives to BPA in food containers.

Here is what the FDA is telling consumers to do:

  • Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
  • Do not put very hot or boiling liquid that you intend to consume in plastic containers made with BPA. BPA levels rise in food when containers/products made with the chemical are heated and come in contact with the food.
  • Discard all bottles with scratches, as these may harbor bacteria and, if BPA-containing, lead to greater release of BPA.

Because the BPA issue has raised concern amongst consumers it is very important for restaurants to show their awareness. The best way to do this is obvious, start using BPA free plastics. There are several manufacturers who offer this option.

Cambro Manufacturing Company offers an abundance of BPA Free products. BPA is not found in Cambro’s polypropylene or polyethylene storage containers, ABS products, or in most Cambro tumblers which are made from the SAN resin.

Rubbermaid Commercial Products is also committed to helping you make the right choice in your establishment. RCP created the revolutionary product line in collaboration with Eastman Chemical Company using its Tritan™ copolyester, a material free of BPA that offers the highest quality, durability and clarity in the industry. The collection includes ingredient management, food pans, food boxes, and square food storage containers.

Check out the cool video RCP made to show off how their BPA free products hold up in a commercial kitchen.

FOH just started offering an awesome BPA free barware collection called Drinkwise. The drinkware is safe for 3,000+ washings, stronger and longer lasting than SAN and polycarbonate, has glass like clarity, is heat resistant to 248°F, chemical resistant, crack proof and impact and shatter resistant. Not only is this stuff tough, it’s stylish too!

If you do decide to go BPA free, make sure you market it like crazy. As with anything “green”, customers look for your impacting initiatives and appreciate your awareness. To special order BPA free products just contact Tundra Restaurant Supply. They can get you anything you need!

Continue Reading

Buying Guide | Flatware 101

No table setting is complete without the proper flatware pieces. Whether your guests are expecting a fine dining or quick diner experience understanding your flatware options is important and will contribute to the ambiance and style you’re trying to achieve. Tundra Restaurant Supply offers a variety of commercial flatware at every price point.

Table/Dinner KnifeBuying Guide | Flatware 101

A table knife is an item of cutlery, part of a traditional table setting. Table knives are typically of moderate sharpness only, designed to cut prepared and cooked food. They are usually made of stainless steel.

Butter Knife

Commonly, a butter knife refers to any non-serrated table knife designed with a dull edge and rounded point; formal table settings make a distinction between a dinner knife (table knife) and a butter knife.

Dinner Fork

The dinner fork is part of the traditional five-piece flatware setting. It is used during the main course. A dinner fork is a tool consisting of a handle with several narrow tines on one end.

Salad Fork

Similar to a dinner fork, but shorter and may have one of the outer tines shaped differently.

Dessert Fork

A dessert fork is smaller and features a thinner build then a salad fork. It is typically used for eating desserts like pie and cake. In Europe, a dessert fork is often referred to as a pudding fork or cake fork.

Cocktail Fork

A cocktail fork is a small fork resembling a trident used for spearing cocktail garnishes, such as olives or cheese. This is an individual fork traditionally used with the standard five-piece place setting.

Buying Guide | Flatware 101Teaspoon

A teaspoon is a small spoon, commonly part of a table place setting suitable for stirring and sipping the contents of a cup of tea or coffee.

Soup Spoon

A soup spoon is a type of spoon with a large or rounded bowl, used for eating soup. This term can refer to the Western soup spoon or the Chinese spoon. The Western soup spoon features a deep, circular bowl for holding liquid. The Chinese soup spoon is usually ceramic and of a distinct Chinese soup spoon shape.

Dessert Spoon

A dessert spoon is a spoon designed specifically for eating dessert and sometimes used for soup or cereals. Similar in size to a soup spoon but with an oval rather than round bowl, it typically has a capacity around twice that of a teaspoon.

Tablespoon

A tablespoon is the largest type of spoon used for eating from a bowl. In Europe, a tablespoon is a type of large spoon usually used for serving.

Bouillon Spoon

This is another type of soup spoon mainly used for clear soups or broths. The bouillon spoon has a rounded spoon head.

Demitasse Spoon

A demitasse spoon is a diminutive spoon and smaller than a teaspoon. It is traditionally used for coffee drinks in specialty cups and for spooning cappuccino froth. It is also used as a baby spoon.

Know the Difference | 18/10 vs. 18/0 Grade Stainless Steel

The 18/10 and 18/0 specifications are simply figures that illustrate the percentages of chromium and nickel content present in the stainless steel. Examples: if a piece of flatware has 18/10 construction, there is 18% chromium and 10% nickel content. If the flatware has an 18/0 construction, there is 18% chromium with zero nickel matter. Chromium is a hard metallic substance that helps increase product hardness. Nickel is defined as a silvery metallic element that helps resist corrosion.Buying Guide | Flatware 101

18/10 Flatware Features:

  • Brilliant luster
  • Rust-resistant material
  • Durable construction
  • Easy to maintain

18/0 Flatware Features:

  • Soft shine
  • Zero nickel content
  • Economical design
  • Subject to staining

Purchasing flatware might seem like a complicated process, but with the proper information and knowing the basics you can create a special table setting for any guest setting. Tundra Restaurant Supply offers hundreds of flatware collections at every price point.

Continue Reading

Test Strips and Sanitizers: A Complete Buying Guide

Are Test Strips Required, and Why?

Commercial sanitizers and test strips are required by health department regulations, and in Colorado those are the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations.  Why do you need Test Strips and Sanitizers: A Complete Buying Guidethem?  Because test strips tell you if the chemical sanitizing solution is the required concentration.  Section 4-402 reads:

“A test kit or other device that accurately measures the concentration in parts per million (mg/L) of the sanitizing solution shall be available and used.”

What is Sanitization and Why is it Important?

Good questions, and I’m glad you asked!  Here is the definition from Section 1-202:

“Sanitization means the application of cumulative heat or chemicals on cleaned food-contact surfaces that, when evaluated for efficacy, is sufficient to yield a reduction 5 logs, which is equal to a 99.999% reduction, of representative disease microorganisms of public health importance.”

Simply put, if you apply either sufficient heat, or sufficient chemical sanitizer, then nasty microbes that can make you sick are reduced by 99.999%.  That protects you and your customers, and it is important.  The regulations define how much is sufficient, and I discuss that next.

Test Strips and Sanitizers: A Complete Buying Guide

Types of Chemical Sanitizers

The three most common chemical sanitizers are chlorine-based, quaternary ammonia (QA), and iodine- based.  The required concentration ranges are below:

  • Chlorine-based (available chlorine as hypochlorite) | Between 50 ppm and 200 ppm
  • Quaternary ammonia (QA) | Between 100 ppm and 400 ppm
  • Iodine-based (available iodine) | Between 12.5 ppm and 25 ppm

How Do You Use Test Strips and How Often?

Chlorine-based sanitizers:  Dip the strip into the sanitizing solution, then immediately remove and compare to the color chart.  If it reads between 50 ppm and 200 ppm, then the concentration is fine.

Quaternary ammonia (QA) sanitizers:  Dip the strip into the sanitizing solution for 10 seconds, then remove and compare to the color chart.  If it reads between 100 ppm and 400 ppm, then the concentration is fine.

Iodine-based sanitizers:  Dip the strip into the sanitizing solution for 60 seconds, then remove and compare to the color chart.  If it reads between 12.5 ppm and 25 ppm, then the concentration is fine.

If the concentration is either too low or too high, either add sanitizer or dilute as needed in order to achieve the required concentration.Test Strips and Sanitizers: A Complete Buying Guide

How often do you need to check the concentration?  The Colorado regulation does not specify.  But you need to check often enough to ensure the proper concentration at all times.  A minimum of twice a day is my recommendation.

If you have a high temperature dish machine in Colorado, you must provide a minimum temperature of 160 F on the surface of utensils/equipment to ensure that sanitizing has actually occurred.  Since dish machine gauges can be inaccurate, purchase and regularly use hot water test labels.

Fryer oil and pH test strips are not required by the Colorado regulations.

Remember This!

  1. Test chemical sanitizers in all locations.  This includes the buckets for your wiping cloths, the 3-compartment sink, and the low temperature dish machine.
  2. Inspectors will often ask for your test strips and have you test the sanitizing solution, or they will test it themselves. Asking you to provide the strips will show them if you keep them readily available…a manager scrambling to find them is a bad sign!  Secondly, watching you do the test will show them if you know how, so be prepared.
  3. The requirement for test strips is non-critical, and if you violate it, it is marked as an 11C violation on the inspection form. But have the strips, use them, make sure your staff knows how to use them, and keep all your sanitizing solutions at the proper concentration.
Continue Reading

Is Mayhem Knocking at Your Door?

Is Mayhem Knocking at Your Door?

Mother Nature has had quite the attitude this year! From devastating fires and flash floods to hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes, she has been turning communities upside down. Thank heavens you can plan ahead for such tragic events. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) have generated some tips to help restaurateurs make food safety part of their preparation efforts. If you have a game plan for when severe weather strikes you can prevent food loss and potential food borne illness in your establishment. Temperature controlled food storage can be difficult during a power outage if your commercial refrigeration loses electricity so make sure to stock up on dry ice, canned food, bottled water and batteries. Below are steps to follow if natural disasters are knocking at your door.

How to prepare for a possible weather emergency:

  • Keep a refrigeration thermometer in your refrigerator and freezer at all times. Refrigerator and freezer thermometers will provide the internal temperature of your refrigeration in case of a power outage and help determine the safety of the food. Set freezers at 0°F or below and refrigerators as 40°F or below.
  • Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold after power is out.
  • Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry that you don’t need immediately to help keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Plan ahead and know where you can get dry ice and block ice quickly.
  • Store foods on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
  • Have coolers available to keep refrigerated food cold if power is out for more than 4 hours. Purchase or make ice cubes and store in freezer for use in refrigerator or cooler. Freeze ice packs and blankets ahead of time to use in coolers.
  • Group food close together in freezer to ensure foods stays cold longer.

Steps to follow during and after a weather emergency:

  • Do not taste any of your food to determine if it is safe!
  • Minimize how often you open your refrigerator and Freezer doors to maintain the internal temperatures as long as possible.
  • A refrigerator will keep food cold for approximately 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will keep food at the proper temperature for about 48 hours. If it is half full is will keep food cold for 24 hours if the door is not opened.
  • If your food contains ice crystals or is at 40°F or below it may be refrozen.
  • Obtain dry ice or block ice to keep your refrigeration as cold as possible if the power goes out for a long period of time. 50 pounds of dry ice should hold an 18 cubic food full freezer for 2 days.Is Mayhem Knocking at Your Door?
  • If the power has been out for several days you will need to check the temperature of the freezer with a refrigerator thermometer of food thermometer. If your food contains ice crystals or is at 40°F or below the food is safe.
  • If you do not have a refrigerator thermometer then you will need to check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals it is safe.
  • Throw away or compost refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after 4 hours without electricity.
  • If you are ever in doubt, get rid of the food.

How to determine what food to keep and what to discard:

  • Do not keep or eat anything that may have been in contact with flood water.
  • Discard any food that is not in a waterproof food container if it may have been in contact with flood water. (e.g Containers with screw on tops, snap lids, pull tops, and crimpled covers are not waterproof. Also discard cardboard juice boxes, baby formula boxes and home canned foods in they come in contact with flood water because they cannot be cleaned and sanitized)
  • Inspect canned food and discard anything that looks damaged. (e.g Swelling, leaking, punctures, holes, fractures, rusting and denting represents can damage.)
  • Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes, and utensils with soap and water, using hot water if available. Rinse and then sanitize them by boiling in clean water or immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented bleach per gallon of clean water.
  • Thoroughly wash countertops with hot water and detergent then rinse with sanitizing solution.

How to remove odors from refrigeration:

  • Get rid of all spoiled food.Is Mayhem Knocking at Your Door?
  • Remove shelves, crispers, and ice trays. Wash thoroughly with hot water and detergent then rinse with sanitizing solution.
  • Wash interior of refrigeration including door and gasket, with hot water and baking soda. Then rinse with sanitizing solution.
  • Leave the door(s) open for 15 minutes to allow free air circulation.

If the odor still remains:

  • Wipe the inside with equal parts of vinegar and water. Vinegar destroys mildew.
  • Stuff refrigeration with rolled newspapers, close the door(s) and leave for several days. Remove paper and clean with vinegar and water solution.
  • Sprinkle fresh coffee grounds or baking soda loosely in a large, shallow container in the bottom of the refrigerator and freezer.
  • Place a cotton swab soaked in vanilla inside the refrigeration. Close door for 24 hours.

As you can see there are many precautionary steps you can take to protect your restaurant from food loss, food borne illness and odors that may turn customers away from your establishment. Weather emergencies are not always foreseen so make sure to plan ahead so you don’t go down with your ship!

If you still have questions about the safety precautions you should take before severe weather or what to do post disaster you can contact FSIS representative, Karen, at www.askkaren.gov or m.askkaren.gov on your smart phone. Ask Karen is available 24 hours a day!

 

Continue Reading

How To Earn a Passing Grade on Food & Health Inspection

How To Earn a Passing Grade on Food & Health InspectionRestaurateurs have a lot on their plate; hiring and training employees, attracting new customers, providing quality ingredients, keeping diners happy, treating workers well to start, but the list never ends. On top of all this these businesses must also make sure that their restaurant can pass a health inspection with flying colors.

Restaurant owners know this is harder than it sounds. It is well known in the industry that inspection requirements and transparency differ by state, county or even city. Different parts of the country grade on different scales with different requirements that need to be met.

Health departments across the country are also making these inspection scores more visible to the public. Health scores are revealed in the newspaper, online or are even required to be posted in the front window of a restaurant in some cities.

Restaurateurs must be educated and completely aware of their jurisdiction’s health codes and inspection policies in order to protect their business from the wrath of a bad inspection score.

Health inspections focus on food temperatures, food handling, employee hygiene, facility maintenance and pest and rodent control. A restaurant can receive a low grade for anything from food cross contamination to missing ceiling tiles to cockroaches.

Restaurant health inspections can be a good thing or a very bad thing for a business depending on how its operation is run. With the public’s heightened interest in good food with quality ingredients health inspections are as important now as they have ever been. A couple good or bad reviews could quickly swing consumer opinion on a restaurant and affect its business.

A new restaurant grading system was implemented in New York City in July 2010. This grading system requires restaurants to post their health inspection grades in the front window of the business. This makes receiving a good grade that much more important for restaurant owners.

The problem is some of the cooking requirements in the health code are hard for cooks to work with while still trying to maintain good tasting food. These cooking requirements indicate temperatures at which food must be stored and served at. Some temperature requirements go against decades of cooking practices.

Table d’Hote, a French Bistro in New York City, serves a country-style terrine that is best served at room temperature to give the dish a soft texture. The city’s health code requires the restaurant to serve terrine frozen, which William Knapp, the restaurant’s owner, knows is not appetizing. He says serving the dish according to regulations, “just not a satisfying experience for our customers.” Even though Knapp knows the dish is not the same, he is forced to serve it this way in order to avoid a 7 point violation that would bring his restaurant’s health inspection score down to a B.

Other restaurant owners risk violations for the sake of better tasting food. Some chefs decide that some requirements are not completely necessary and decide to ignore them in favor of their own discretion on what is safe. An example of this is a chef allowing steak or poultry to reach room temperature before throwing them into the pan. The city requires them to begin cooking these meats while they are still frozen. This is something that people do while cooking at home and doesn’t seem like a serious infraction but could actually drop a restaurant’s grade down a letter or even two and greatly affect the business’ public image.

One way to avoid health regulations and prepare a dish in a different way is by customer request. If a diner requests a meal be prepared outside of health department regulations, only then can the restaurant disregard regulations.

There are a few ways restaurateurs can help induce these requests from customers:

  • Train servers to inform customers about the regulations and how they changed the traditional cooking method
  • Add a note below menu items that are prepared differently because of health inspections
  • Post a list of health regulations somewhere in the restaurant to spread awareness on the issue

The key for restaurateurs in the case of health inspections is to be aware of your jurisdiction’s requirements. This can be done by simply doing some online research about your state’s health inspection guidelines. These requirements vary by region and can be altered when deemed necessary. Knowing what is required is the first step toward meeting all of your health department’s guidelines. With public awareness on the issue at an all-time high a good score is all the more important.

Continue Reading

Food Service Gloves: Pros and Cons

Food Service Gloves: Pros and Cons A line cook at a bar and grill is preparing a hamburger. He puts on food service gloves and grabs a handful of raw ground beef and forms a patty. Without changing gloves the worker proceeds to top the grilled patty with lettuce, tomato and onions. After sending out the burger the line cook starts the process over without changing his gloves. This is just one example of food service glove use gone wrong. The problem is that this scenario is probably not uncommon and is just one of the many ways food can be contaminated through improper glove use.
 

The Food Service Glove Problem

Food service gloves can provide a false sense of security for employees and customers. Once the gloves are on people feel as though the food being handled is safe and not being contaminated by the server’s hands. This can be true if the server closely follows the right protocol but the majority of the time the gloves are not helping and in some cases they are hurting the situation.

Studies have found that improper glove use can be a bigger problem than poor hand hygiene. This is true for a few different reasons. Gloves do not provide the level of protection that many people think they do and still require hand washing. Also workers tend to become more careless and take more risks when wearing gloves.

The Journal of Food Protection studied food service glove use in 2007 and 2010. The journal reported that hand washing was less likely to occur when employees were wearing gloves. This is a frightening trend for restaurateurs because these gloves will not fully protect food from being contaminated when the hands they are covering are not clean. In fact, gloves can act as a breeding ground for bacteria and actually raise the risk of food contamination. In their 2010 study the Journal of Food Protection concluded that the warm, moist conditions inside a glove are necessary for microbial proliferation and can increase pathogen transfer onto foods through leaks in the gloves, exposed skin or just by taking the gloves off.

Using food service gloves in a restaurant on a daily basis can also be very wasteful. Most of these gloves are disposable and pairs can be discarded a dozen times an hour just by one employee. These numbers start to add up fast. This is wasted money for your business and more trash in the environment.

During food prep a server or line cook can be handling several different types of food at the same time. If one of these foods is raw meat then the server is required to change gloves before picking up a different piece of food. Or if the worker opens a refrigerator, sneezes, coughs, handles money or touches any other contaminated surface they are required to change gloves. If servers are changing gloves as often as they are required to, which most of the time is not the case, they will be using a large amount of disposable gloves and slowing down the food preparation time.

Having said this there are some positive reasons to wear food service gloves. One situation where glove use can be important is when preparing sushi. Because these workers are handling raw fish they need to take certain precautions to ensure customer safety and gloves make it easier to do so. For example, if a sushi chef is preparing a roll with shellfish and a customer orders a different roll and is allergic to shellfish, gloves make it easy for the chef to switch materials safely.

Food service gloves also create a positive customer perception about the cleanliness of your business operation. This as mentioned before may be a false sense of security for the customer but either way they have a positive outlook about the restaurant.

Types of Gloves

There are currently many different options when buying food service gloves. From latex to polyethylene they’re all a little different and they all have their own benefits and problems.

Latex

Latex gloves are frequently used in the food industry. They can withstand exposure to high heat, feature a tight fight and good dexterity. The main problem with latex is that some people are severely allergic to the material and use of these gloves has been banned in 3 states.

Nitrile

Nitrile gloves are durable with good dexterity. The problem with this material is these gloves often contain DEHP. DEHP is a potential carcinogen and could be harmful to customers and servers.

Polyethylene

Polyethylene gloves are the cheapest of the group. These gloves may be affordable but are far from durable because they tend to tear easily and can not be exposed to heat.

Vinyl

Vinyl gloves tend to be considered an acceptable alternative to latex but they have problems of their own. These gloves have been described as “infection control nightmares” by Food Safety Magazine. This is because they can begin leaking sometimes as soon as they are donned by the worker.

The Centers for Dieses Control and Protection (CDC) recommends that instead of requiring businesses to use food service gloves it would be better to revise food prep methods to reduce the number of times an employee needs to wash their hands. This can be done by limiting the number of times the worker has to handle raw meat or other contaminating materials.

The issue of food service gloves and their safety is important because it can directly affect the public’s health. Food borne illnesses can be very dangerous and detrimental to diners’ health.

As a restaurateur you are in a position to positively impact this issue. Whether you decide it is better for your servers to use gloves or practice regular hand washing it is important to commit to making sure your food is safe. This can be done by training the staff on the correct way to use food service gloves and on maintaining proper hand hygiene. Make all of the necessary equipment readily available to make this easy for your employees. Do this by always having a supply of gloves near the food prep area or by always making sure your sink is stocked with enough soap and towels.

Continue Reading

Food Safety Update: Time To Get Your Management Certified

The food service industry is buzzing right now about a report released by the Food and Drug Administration last week revealing the results of a food safety study the FDA conducted over the past 10 years.

What’s the big deal? The FDA found that “a certified food protection manager was correlated with significantly higher compliance levels with food safety practices,” according to Nation’s Restaurant News. In fact, food service establishments with a full-time certified food protection manager were 12% (70% to 58%) more compliant with food safety practices than those without. That’s a pretty large number.

What’s this mean? The FDA will almost certainly modify their Food Code recommendations to include a full-time food protection manager for all food service establishments. That doesn’t mean a mandate for every restaurant in the country – the Food Code is voluntary and different states and cities adopt different parts of the code.

However, a new food safety standard has been set, and there’s no reason for you to sit around and wait for this to become a requirement, which many industry experts expect in the next few years. Needless to say, there is some legitimate concern among restaurateurs that payroll costs are going up in the face of these new recommendations and any future mandates. The last thing you need is another full-time employee doing something you’re already supposed to be doing, right?

So what can you do? Get your management certified. The upshot of these new recommendations is that the FDA has found a fairly simple way to significantly improve your food safety program: train someone well and then make them responsible for managing food safety in your restaurant.

While it’s not entirely clear what a “certified food protection manager” is, there are already courses out there like Serve Safe’s 16 hour training session that will pass muster for now. If all of your restaurant’s managers pass a similar course, then you’re already playing ahead of the game.

The fact of the matter is, if it has been statistically proven to improve food safety compliance, then getting your management certified is a worthy investment.

Continue Reading