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Food Recalls: Another Important Reason to Have a Sound Traceability Program in your Foodservice Operation

Earlier in the month, I discussed a bit about the proposed traceability rules that may be coming out soon. One result of implementing the proposed rule and improving overall food traceability in your operation is the ability of those in the food chain to quickly identify and pull product involved in a food recall. If you are in the food or foodservice industry, and have not been impacted by a recall, I would venture to say you have not been paying close attention. Just in the month of June, there have been 14 food-safety related recalls on products used for human consumption. These products ranged from cereal to ground spices. Most recalls in the United States are voluntary; however, the Food Safety Modernization Act did...

Food Traceability in Foodservice Operations: An Essential, and Soon-to-be Required, Component of your Food Safety Plan

In June, I discussed the importance of having a solid food defense plan, and I provided you some resources for developing or strengthening your food defense plan. As I was writing those blogs, my mind kept turning toward food traceability. While they are distinctly different concepts, food traceability goes hand-in-hand with a food defense program. I would argue for your food defense plan to be effective, you must have an effective internal food traceability program, where you can trace the product back to the supplier (backward traceability), but also be able to trace the product from the supplier to the guest who was served the product (forward traceability). Forward traceability is often the most difficult for foodservice operators. If you are a commercial restaurant operator,...

Food Defense Plan Resources – at just the right price…

Earlier in the month, I discussed the importance of having a solid food defense plan in place for your foodservice operation. Even if the first version of your plan is not perfect, it is a start.  Having plans down on paper will force you to think through the process and ensure the vulnerable points where opportunities exist for possible contamination within the operation are mitigated. Often, getting started is the hardest part of developing your food defense plan. So, I thought I would compile some resources for you to utilize. There are many good resources available online. However, I often find many of the resources are focused on larger-scale food processing facilities and only a few resources focus on the retail foodservice operation. When I...

Don’t Turn a Blind Eye to Your Food Defense Practices

Late last week, as I mindlessly scrolled through Twitter, I ran across a Tweet suggesting the #IceCreamChallenge from summer 2019 was the real cause of the Coronavirus spread. Of course, the Tweet was made tongue in cheek, but it did cause me to reflect on that challenge, which had a short life on social media in the summer of 2019. Please do not confuse the ice cream challenge with the ice bucket challenge of 2014, which raised over $220 million for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the disease often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease. Unlike the ice bucket challenge, the ice cream challenge had no positive impact on our society, unless you count changing the way some Americans bought ice cream as positive. The video...

What is the Greatest Threat to Food Safety?

What is the Greatest Threat to Food Safety? Last week, I sat in on a webinar about the future of the foodservice industry, post-COVID.  Of course, most of it is speculation, but it was interesting to hear the different perspectives on where the industry is heading and how the impact of COVID will be felt for years to come.  One common theme discussed was whether working from home would become more prevalent. This, in turn, can have a profound impact on the traffic patterns in most operations, including quick service and fast casual restaurants. Of course, as operators, you would welcome them back at any time of the day – as long as they come back!  As more and more individuals receive the COVID vaccine,...

Food Safety Considerations for the “New Way” of Dining, Part II – Back-of-house

In our first blog this month, we discussed the importance of front-of-house practices as we emerge from the pandemic this summer and into fall.   Making your guests feel safe will be an important point as we welcome them back to our establishment.  The safer they feel, the more likely they are to revisit and this could, in turn, be a competitive advantage for your business. For this blog, I’d like to focus on more of what we might do in back-of-house operations. Frankly, this is a much harder blog to write, because most foodservice operations already have a solid food safety program and most of these common food safety practices will help protect our guests and ourselves from the Coronavirus.  But, as we emerge from...

Food Safety Considerations for the “New Way” of Dining

Spring is my favorite time of year, as we head out of the winter months, welcome warmer weather, and increase the daylight hours.  As such, we turnover a new leaf and welcome new life as our grass, trees, and perennials come out of dormancy. This year as the Coronavirus vaccine continues its roll out and we welcome a third vaccine onto the market this morning, perhaps this spring we are turning over a ‘new leaf’ in a much more profound way, as we see light at the end of the Coronavirus tunnel. If you work in a school, restaurant, or other on-site foodservice operation, much of your last year has been figuring out ways to serve your customer through carry-out, curbside delivery, or via at-home...

Developing Good Food Safety Habits

Good habits and habit development are something that has fascinated me for several years. If you’ve attended any the training programs or presentations that my colleagues and I have conducted through our Center for Food Safety in Child Nutrition Programs, you’ve likely heard me opine about the importance of habits and how habits are created. Many times, in foodservice operations we wonder why our staff don’t follow the food safety practices we have established in our operation. Perhaps they don’t wash their hands when they are required, perhaps they just don’t use the proper method of handwashing, or perhaps we find that they don’t complete our HACCP logs as often as our program dictates should occur. And while we can stomp our feet and say...

Getting Your Playbook for Food Safety Organized

As anyone who has ever worked in a foodservice operation knows, from the time food is received in your establishment to the time it is served to your customers, following proper food safety practices is crucial. What many don’t often think about is this time really should extend from the time the manager places their orders with their suppliers (including which purveyors you utilize), through the time the food is consumed – even if that consumption occurs off your premises and days after the original order was picked up by the guest. This is something that has certainly been highlighted by the pandemic as customers across the nation are utilizing take-out, curbside to go, and third-party delivery options more so now than ever before. Last...

Getting Started with Building the Infrastructure

Hopefully in our first January blog, we convinced you of the importance of establishing an infrastructure within your operation to support a safe food culture. So, how does one go about doing this? Well, like any major project, break it into small bites. In our opinion, having a written guide for employees that documents expectations related to food safety basics of employee health and hygiene, temperature controls, and cleaning and sanitizing is the first step. Having this documentation serves as a reference for training and helps fulfill the mission of most foodservice operators which is to serve safe, quality food. We suggest working on one section at a time. For instance, gather materials currently used with staff that address employee health and hygiene measures. Take...
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