By Brian Montgomery
There are few things that can kill your restaurant business faster than an outbreak of foodborne illness. Not only can sickened patrons hurt your bottom line in the short term, it can certainly hurt your rep in the long run. A recent story called Food Safety, Top 10 Riskiest Foods on ABC's "Good Morning America" pointed out that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) needs more regulatory authority, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Institute of Medicine.The story cites a Center for Science In the Public Interest report called The Ten Riskiest Foods Regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, saying that 40% of all foodborne-outbreaks since 1990 are linked to the following 10 food products the FDA is responsible for regulating:
- Leafy Greens
- Ice Cream
Chances are you probably serve most or all of these foods! I'm not going to tell you what I think about the article, or my opinion on how well government regulatory agencies function..I'll let you read the article and check out the sites yourself! But I will give you a brief list of my own with some easy, common-sense tips to help prevent problems with any of the above food! This is certainly not all-inclusive but it's a start.
- Buy Products from Reputable Sources. You increase your chances of getting good product to start with by buying from reputable sources. They probably have better food safety practices than that shady seller.
- Inspect What you Receive. No matter how good of a supplier you have, you still need to inspect all your deliveries and refuse anything that looks questionable. Whip out your probe thermometer and make sure those perishables are coming in to you at the proper temperature, and put them away right away! That probe thermometer, once sanitized, will also help you make sure your cooked items have reached the proper temperature, your hot buffet items are being held at the right temperature, and the stuff being stored in your refrigerator is being held at the right temperature!
- Make Sure Your Employees Wash Their Hands Often, and Wear Disposable Gloves. Hand washing is super-important, (we have tons of hand soap and hand soap dispensers) and changing disposable gloves (we have a lot of these too--at great prices) between each kitchen task is a great way to prevent cross-contamination. Color-coded cutting boards also help keep different types of food separate during preparation, reducing the chance that any bad stuff on that chicken breast you're cutting won't get into the spinach you're cutting!
- Make Sure Your Equipment is Operating Properly. An inexpensive refrigerator / freezer thermometer will allow you quickly see if it's holding your food at a low enough temperature. As I mentioned above, that probe thermometer comes in handy to check internal temps of stuff in food pans in your prep table, reach-in, or salad bar.
Check out our Food Safety Supplies page for all sorts of products to help you serve food safely and meet HACCP guidelines!