Tag Archives: chef

Restaurant Self Inspection

yelp page 2

How much do you hate getting points knocked off of your health inspections for the same silly violations every single time? Did you know that for most restaurants that these reports are posted online and even on social media sites like Yelp? You should also know that something like not labeling a spray bottle shows up as “Standard Not Met: Toxic substances properly identified, stored, used”. Or for trash cans being to close to a food prep counters you’ll get “Standard Not Met: Garbage and refuse properly disposed; facilities maintained”  These things do not look good to the public and could be affecting your business.

Well when I managed restaurants I never batted an eye when the health inspector showed up because I had just been doing a self inspection 2 days prior. I never had a fear of what might be found because I had already found it and fixed it. This is why a self inspection is so important. Why would a business operator allow a single arbitrary visit from the health dept. to have such a potentially negative impact on their business and not do anything about it? These violations could appear on your reports for years for the public to see.

The beauty of a self inspection is that you not only protect your customers but you protect your business. It also shows your staff members how important food safety is to you.  It also is not as hard as many people might think and the piece of mind is priceless.

For more information on how to do a self inspection visit http://www.westernfoodsafety.com

Valentines Day: Let’s Not Break Any Hearts

heart

Valentines day is just around the corner.  Imagine making reservations, arranging care for the kids and taking the time to visit a new restaurant for a romantic evening with a loved one.  When you get home there are chocolates and champagne on ice for a romantic movie when your partner says their stomach is hurting, then they begin to sweat and finally have to excuse themselves to the bathroom where they stay for the rest of the evening. Not such a nice evening after all is it?  But what could have caused it?

Well lets rewind this scenario back to the restaurant, earlier in the day, during the lunch shift.  As the lunch shift winds down, the cook will set up for the night shift.  Part of the set up is to make sure all of the food is fully stocked.  But they are also required to change out all of the utensils for clean ones but in the chaos of the transition from lunch to dinner this important step was missed and all of the scoops that have been used all day continued into the night without being washed.

The problem with this is when the cook uses these implements they transfer a common pathogen that many humans carry, Staphylococcus aureus, to the utensils which are then left in the food products. In fact, this same pathogen staph is the same thing that causes people to get infected cuts or wounds.  The problem is when you allow this pathogen to grow on the food via our scoops it creates a poison that quickly makes people sick, within 1 to 6 hours.  Will this turn into a major food born illness outbreak? Hopefully not.  Could this happen to more than one customer? Absolutely, and their probably not going to call the health department but you can be sure these folks will never dine in your place again. And hopefully they don’t share their experience at you facility on Trip Advisor or Yelp.

One thing that we have to be aware of is that these busy holiday nights are not just an opportunity for a profitable shift but an opportunity to show people who might not have ordinarily dined with us how great of a place we are.  It doesn’t have to be a full blown disease like we had in the scenario above, it could be as simple as a stomach ache that turns them off. Heck, they might not even get sick but they happen to see a busy staff member doing some that just looks gross like wearing their apron into the bathroom or eating behind the bar.  These days need to be planned out carefully with thoughtful preparation and staffing because if you can’t get them right they can really hurt your business in the end more than the profits for the day are worth.

Using Notes As A Manager

A food managers day is filled with all kinds of activities, big and small.  We have to get food counts so we can get the food order in, we have to make sure the bartenders aren’t over serving customers alcohol and we have to make sure we get the shift covered for our chef whose wife just went into labor.  All this while we have a full dinner shift running in the dining room. So how do we make sure we’re not missing anything? Notes!

Notes are a busy managers best friend. You can carry a pocket note pad or a big giant folder, you can use an electronic device or you can fold a piece of printer paper into quarters so it fits in your back pocket. Regardless of your method you need to be writing things down all day or you will forget stuff.  First, you should write down all of the tasks you intend to complete that day ( i.e. orders or special cleaning duties).  Also, you should be writing down observations throughout the shift. For example, you notice a server is late while you are in the kitchen taking temps on your service line.  Or it seems like some meat has gone missing. If you don’t write it down immediately you will forget it happened. So, take a second to pull out your note pad and write it down. If you do this for everything that happens throughout your day you will have a pretty good record of all the happenings during your shift. notes

Now what good does this do if your not going to do something with the information or put it somewhere permanent. At the end of each day take ten minutes to go over this indecipherable set of scribble that only you can read so you can leave any relevant information to the next manager or even your self for the next shift in a shared daily manager book.  I also would put performance information into a file for my staff members, this could be either on a computer or in filing cabinet. If you do this you’ll start create a record on your team members and find out if there are any positive or negative trends.

redbookBy taking notes and saving information you will be able to communicate with your team better and forget less often the things that are important to you and you operation. – thefoodsafetyguy

GMO’s Are Good!

Cavemen cooking food

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.

How To Handle A Guest With Food Allergies

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

Sushi: Is Raw Fish Dangerous?

salmon sushi

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?

Do Bananas Need To Be Washed?

bananas

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?

95% of People Wash Hands Wrong

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

Chill Out! Cooling Food Is Important

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

Getting The Most From Your Managers

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