Have you ever noticed an employee in a food service establishment using the same cleaning towel for everything and wondered if it was ok. Well if you have then your awareness is serving you well. The towels we use in food service need to be handled carefully or they can be the cause of food borne illness by transferring bacteria from the place that was just wiped to the next place the towel is used. And even worse, if that towel is not submersed in a sanitizer solution between each use the germs that are on that towel can grow out of control to unsafe levels very quickly. So if you ever notice the bartender that keeps that towel flipped over their shoulder or the server that leaves towels sitting around on counters then leave that establishment quickly with your hands waving above your head notifying the world that the place is trying to give you the squirts.
Imagine for a minute, 2 prehistoric people sitting around a fire 500,000 years ago. One of them puts their meat on the fire to cook it and explains to the other that when this is done the people who eat the food don’t get sick as often and the meat lasts longer so less people starve to death. This prehistoric person then goes on to say that they spend far less time chewing and eating so they get to spend more time with friends and family talking, exploring new ideas and solving other problems they have.
On the other side of the fire the man says, “Well, I tried this out on that wolf that comes around who is already sick and it didn’t get any better. I think because of that we shouldn’t cook our meat because we don’t know what might happen to us in the future.”
We’ll it turns out that we do know what happened in this story. According to Richard Wrangham, author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, the prehistoric people who cooked their food evolved into homo habilis, an early predecessor of humans that became who we are today. Without cooking we might still be trying to figure out how to not be eaten by bears and lions as our everyday activities.
Compare this scenario to our newest food technology GMO’s. A GMO or genetically modified organism is a food that has DNA that was altered with the DNA of another plant. This can happen through selective breeding, introducing species from different parts of the world to each other or introducing desirable genetic traits into a host by insertion, which it then absorbs naturally. This technology is our future and it is not going away. If we want to get past all of the hurdles our current food system is facing like water shortages, weed and pest infestations or chemical issues then GMO is the best way.
Some people say that it is not natural so it can’t be good. That is why I gave the example of our early ancestors. Imagine if cooking food, a seemingly unnatural process, was banned. Then humans may have never evolved into the amazing creatures we are today. We also may have never discovered the beautiful things that make us human such as religion, art, civilizations and science because we had to spend so much time just trying how to figure out how to find enough safe food.
The science that has been presented by opponents of GMO’s, such as the now infamous Seralini study, has been refuted by scientists on both sides of the GMO argument for being sloppy and poorly documented. I’m not going to site a bunch of sources but they’re out there, look them up. As a matter of fact there have been more thorough studies done in Japan recently showing no negative side effects from GM soy beans on rats that use the same technology as our GM corn.
Well then what about the cancer it causes? According to Kevin Folta, professor of horticulture science at University of Florida, “the basic science says there’s no plausible way these well-understood genes could cause or promote cancer”.
It’s easy to say we shouldn’t be using science to make a more nutritious, safer food supply for the world when you are not hungry. But think about how many people will be affected by starvation this year due to malnutrition. Well according to the WHO, “malnutrition is a significant factor in approximately one third of the nearly 8 million deaths in children who are under 5 years of age world wide”. How many of those children could be spared with a better food supply? How many of those mothers would say no to a plate of nutritious GM golden rice?
Genetic engineering is going to be a big part of our future just like cooking has been for 500,000 years. The transition to acceptance is happening now and imagine all of the unknown possibilities the future holds for us if we can figure out the problem of a safe food supply for all humankind. We can’t even imagine what is to come, just like our ancestors, but it is time to close the door of starvation, disease and malnutrition and open the door towards a more advanced world.
One of the toughest things to do as a manager is to have to discipline/motivate your staff. I remember being taught how to manage costs and run the day to day operations of restaurant but I don’t remember anybody ever sitting me down and teaching me how to manage employees effectively so I had to come up with my own system. Continue reading Dealing With A Difficult Employee
A guest in a restaurant, while placing their dinner order, informs the sever that they are allergic to [fill in the blank]… lets just say gluten, a scenario that plays out regularly in restaurants around the US. This is the crucial moment for the operation because here is where we determine if we get the customer sick, make them angry or provide them with a great experience. Something we find more often than not is that server is not prepared to handle the request correctly and this could lead to a major problem. Continue reading How To Handle A Guest With Food Allergies
The word sushi is actually a Japanese word that once meant “sour tasting” to describe the salt and vinegar mix that was used to preserve fish in ancient Japan, before refrigeration. Today however, it is only used to describe the rice and fish combinations we currently eat at our local sushi restaurants. But this isn’t a history lesson so lets figure this out. Is sushi safe?
Sushi has three potentially hazardous components, the fish, the rice, and the sushi chef. Continue reading Sushi: Is Raw Fish Dangerous?
One of the things I run across in my classes is confusion about what types of produce need to be washed. People ask questions about melons, garlic and lemons or sometimes about bananas. I think what is throwing people off is that these products have a peel that we don’t eat so it seems that if we remove the peel then we are removing the contamination. Continue reading Do Bananas Need To Be Washed?
Recently I came across a study on hand washing in the Journal of Environmental Health, it was lead by Carl Borchgrevink, Assosiate Professor at the School of Hospitality Business. Professor Borchgrevink outlines in his abstract that he pretty much wasn’t convinced by the numbers presented by previous research on hand washing studies. They state that between 2009-2010, 94%-96% of people were washing their hands correctly after using public restrooms. Well, according to Borchgrevink the previous studies are flawed because hand washing is a “socially desirable activity” so when people are “asked” if they washed their hands they lied. Continue reading 95% of People Wash Hands Wrong
Did you know that a major cause of food borne illness in the US is improperly cooling your food? What that means is that once your done making your rice or your chili you can’t just pop the hot food into the fridge. Putting the hot food into the fridge creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Bacteria grows when food is warm, not hot and not cold but right in the sweet spot, similar to the temperatures in which people are comfortable, which also means that it is not a good idea to leave it sitting out at room temperature to cool down either. So if you can’t put it in the fridge and you can leave it sitting out then what can you do? Continue reading Chill Out! Cooling Food Is Important
Often times a manager will come to our food safety seminar and ask a very simple but important question, “How do I tell my employees to do that?” I find employees sometimes get promoted into a supervisory position because they are great at their job and have the qualities of a good manager but then fail miserably at their new managerial responsibilities. Continue reading Getting The Most From Your Managers
In January of 2014, California passed a bill that prohibited food handlers from touching ready to eat food with their bare hands. This law created quite a stir, especially amongst bartenders and sushi chefs who claimed it would be environmentally and hygienically unsafe. It was so hastily passed by the assembly that it even prompted local regulatory authorities across the state to roll out the new law slowly over a six month period. They said there would be no citations in restaurants or bars until July 1st 2014. The new “glove law” was repealed on June 28th just days before citations were to be given because of the complaints from sushi chefs and bartenders. Continue reading The California Glove Law (113961)