Monthly Archives: September 2013
Foodborne Illness is a serious concern that impacts the day-to-day safety and sanitation practice put forth by everyone preparing food. Though there is a great effort by agencies like ServSafe and the National Restaurant Association's Education Foundation (NRAEF) to train foodservice personnel about the risks and liabilities associated with improper food handling, there continues to be cases where these illnesses occur. This article highlights some of the most common reasons for these illnesses (not in particular order) and offers tips for rectifying the situation: 1. Cross Contamination Cross Contamination occurs when microorganisms are transferred from one preparation surface or food product to another. With all the hands that are involved in preparing and plating a meal in a restaurant, cross contamination can easily happen if your staff isn't properly trained and educated on the risks associated with food handling. Between receiving food, storing food, prepping food, plating food, and serving it to your customer, there are a number of ways that cross contamination can occur. By investing in tools like color-coated cutting boards which train staff to cut different food types on different food surfaces, encouraging avid cleaning and sanitization, and proper food storage, cross contamination can be minimized. Most importantly, it takes a thorough training and understanding by your staff of the risks associated with improper food handling. 2. Personal Hygiene It's pretty nasty to think about but poor personal hygiene is one of the top 3 most common causes for the outbreak of foodborne illness. By not washing hands after using the restroom, in between preparing different kinds of raw or uncooked foods, coughing, sneezing, scratching, or coming to work sick, there are immediate risks for transmitting microscopic germs and potentially harmful foodborne illnesses on to your customers. Installing multiple hand sinks as required by your health code is one of the best tools to emphasize the importance and requirement of hand washing in your commercial kitchen. To read more about proper hand washing read this article! 3. Time/Temperature Management In general, there are 3 main ways that people can get sick from the time/temperature equation: a. If foods aren't cooled properly b. If foods aren't cooked or reheated properly c. If foods aren't stored and held at proper temperatures. The temperature "danger zone" is talked about in greater detail in this article where it details the risk of bacteria growth when food is exposed to dangerous temperatures. Food Safety is a topic that anyone preparing and serving food should take seriously (and this doesn't exclude home cooks)! By understanding some of the basic practices and principles you can rest assured you will be free from the risk and liabilities of foodborne illnesses.
How many people play a part in your day-to-day food preparation? Chances are there are a number of hands involved in getting a meal prepped and plated in a timely manner. Knowing this, it is crucial that your staff is educated on food safety. One of the foremost reasons for the outbreak of foodborne illnesses stems from cross contamination in the workplace. There are a number of situations where cross contamination can occur:
- Cutting boards, knives and other preparation equipment that aren't cleaned and sanitized in between use with different food types (i.e. raw versus cooked) can result in cross contamination, and ultimately, illness.
- Dirty kitchen surfaces and any surface that hasn't been cleaned and sanitized prior to and in between food contact can easily contaminate your food with germs. Therefore, it is crucial that proper cleaning and sanitizing is being practiced on a continual basis.You may want to invest in color-coated cleaning pails which distinguish your cleaning solution (green pail) from your sanitizing solution (red pail).
- Dirty cleaning supplies (i.e. towels, cloths, brushes) can just as easily cross contaminate food contact surfaces which is why it's important to always have plenty of cleaning tools and linens on hand while being adamant about regularly washing them.
- Raw food items that are added to a meal without further cooking can cross contaminate as can the liquids from raw foods that could drip or make contact with other foods that are ready to serve. Resolution: Make sure that foods are covered fully and tightly in the refrigerator.
- Hands that have been preparing different foods can also cross-transfer germs and contaminate your food. Having adequate hand washing stations is not only incredibly important but also mandatory by your local health code. Be sure you have adequate hand washing stations near the wash rooms, the prep stations, and throughout the kitchen. There are also tools dedicated to reducing the risk of cross contamination, like these ice handling totes and supplies which make moving large amounts of ice easy while keeping dirty hands away.
You know that meal or dining experience that'll always resonate as being thoroughly awesome? It's the feeling of being "Wowed" that creates these delightful memories, and let's face it, we all love to be on the receiving end.
In the foodservice industry, "The Wow Factor," as it is so often called, is the indication of a job well done for the chef, the waiter, and the operator at large. This industry is after all a service-based industry and is deeply rooted on the principle of delivering great service, professional expertise and a pleasant experience to the diner. Whether it's an amazing dish, a beautiful presentation, a friendly waiter or a jovial ambiance, there are a number of ways you can deliver "the wow factor" to your patrons time and time again. Here are some suggestions: 1. Over-The-Top Service: More than anything in this industry, making a great impression starts with having kind, attentive, caring staff who put your satisfaction as a top priority. Having a wait staff that makes dining out a relaxing, pleasant experience for your patrons is paramount, and little touches like remembering a customer's name, or perhaps a regular diner's usual order, can go along way. Service is very much a part of the dining experience and having upbeat employees on staff will help positively orchestrate the mood of the evening. 2. Customer Relationship Management: Having a CRM program in place at your facility is another great way to "wow" your guests. In this digital day and age, getting friendly email reminders about specials, coupons, unique events and other happenings is a nice way to invite patrons back while actively keeping your business name in the mind of your customer. Many venues nowadays also have birthday incentives which invite guests to dine with them and enjoy a complimentary discount. All these things are not only a great branding tool for your business but they also have a positive impact on the feelings your customer base has towards your operation and the way you conduct business. 3. Cleanliness: No matter where you are dining out, from fine dining to fast casual or quick-service venues, having a clean dining room and washroom has a direct effect on the customer impression. No one wants to eat on a grimy table or smell off odors or go to a washroom that's not properly managed. The cleanliness of your restaurant, bar, or foodservice facility is without a doubt one of the first things your patrons will notice when visiting. It is also one of the first things that will turn a customer off, and quick. For all the open kitchens where patrons can see chefs at work, it is increasingly important to have the front of the house as well as the back of the house in tip-top shape so customers can rest assured that cleaning is adhered to and good management is a high priority. 4. Strong Menu: People have a choice every time they dine out and that choice is where they are going to eat followed by what they are going to order. Given the highly saturated restaurant scene in American cities today, it is important to craft your skill and feature a menu that is all your own. It's about finding a defining feature and showcasing that feature well. Chefs across the nation range in skill and expertise, but all successful chefs have honed their skills by mastering a handful of things that make their food memorable. Even your classic favorites (think: a hamburger, a green salad) can be made a popular favorite with the implementation of a defining sauce, dressing, or key feature. Find what it is that makes you stand out and prepare to "wow" your customers with it each and every time. 5. Ambiance The overall ambiance of your foodservice establishment plays an important role in "wowing" your guests. For many fine dining establishments, the importance of this feature is emphasized even more, as restaurant operators comb through nice furniture selections, art options, elegant light fixtures, high-end tabletop accessories and more to set the tone. After all, the first impression is often made at the beginning of your experience (i.e. when you walk in the room) so having pretty lighting, elegant furnishings and a stylish ambiance plays an important role in locking in good sentiments from the first look. Though very important in fine dining, ambiance generally plays a key role in designing a restaurant in general. Small "hole in the wall" venues with a mixture of different knick knacks can add to the warmth and character of a place and make it memorable to the diner. At the end of the day, it is about finding a mix of colors, styles, and objects that will work together to achieve the look you're after, and then share it happily with your guests.