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Food Safety and Child Care

Unless you were living under a rock last year, you’re probably well aware of all the food recalls, CDC warnings, lettuce-free sandwiches. As we continue to learn about hazards and regulate food production, food safety training and awareness is more important than ever.

As the school year winds down many will be searching for summer childcare. While there are definitely laws pertaining to food safety and child care it’s not as widely talked about and regulated as the restaurant industry. Considering that children spread germs and illness faster than parents and caregivers can sanitize, we think it’s a subject worth talking about.

 

Foodborne illness is caused by eating foods or drinking beverages that are contaminated with germs like bacteria, viruses, molds, or parasites. These pathogens can spread rapidly and can be picked up in many different ways. If there’s one thing that’s universal to all children everywhere it’s that they have tendency to play with, touch, or interact with things that may not always be the most sanitary. Yes, we remind them to wash their hands, but it’s advice they don’t always heed.

 

Often, foodborne illness can spread from something as simple as a toy passing between kids. When you work with kids you know there’s very rarely a quiet moment. It’s easy to miss something simple. If you want to learn more about food safety or food allergens visit our website to register for our online training courses. You’ve got a million and one things to remember and take care of. We’re here to help create a food safety culture and it starts with education and implementation.

Liquorexam.com and Always Food Safe: The Ultimate Pairing

In general, a bartender job description includes many elements. Some of those duties may be:

 

  •        Prepare alcohol or non-alcohol beverages for bar and restaurant patrons
  •        Mix ingredients to prepare cocktails
  •        Plan and present bar menu
  •        Restock and replenish bar inventory as needed
  •        Provide an excellent guest experience
  •        Comply with all food and beverage regulations

 

Liquorexam.com is an online server and selling training program that teaches employees to serve and sell alcohol legally and responsibly. Each state has different training requirements so their website provides a pull-down menu to see what training programs are available for your state. In addition to liquor handler training, some states require bartenders to have food safety training as well. That’s why Always Food Safe has joined forces with Liquorexam.com to provide food safety training along with their liquor handler training. By combining our services with Liquorexam.com, we’ve ensured hospitality customers get the best experience possible. Their beverages and food are safe.

Even if your state doesn’t require food safety training for bartenders, it’s still a good idea, and honestly, the responsible decision to become certified in food safety. When you take a look at the bartender duties, you’ll see many of those describe tasks that require people to come in contact with food or kitchen equipment. If you’re looking to stay relevant in the ultra-competitive restaurant and bar industry, having that extra credential is a great idea regardless of your state’s regulations. Visit Liquorexam.com to learn more about their program or visit  https://alwaysfoodsafe.com/ to learn more.

Produce Food Safety

There’s a certain buzz that starts to develop as the weather warms, and we’re not only talking about the bees and flies. You start seeing neighbors working in their yards, people walking their dogs, jogging, and yes, planting their gardens. Farmers markets start to pop up and there’s just an overall excitement in the air. That said, chances are you’ll still purchase some of your produce at the grocery store and, as 2018 taught us, that can be risky. From tainted lettuce to the disappearance of sprouts on sandwiches, produce is an important part of food safety.

In 2015, the FDA enacted The Produce Safety Rule which federally regulated standards for production, harvest, and handling of fruits and veggies in an effort to prevent contamination that causes foodborne illness. This rule targets worker health, hygiene, and training, water standards, and equipment, tool, and building sanitation.

 

In spite of this rule, people still get sick from produce so it’s important to practice your own produce safety. Try to choose items that aren’t damaged or bruised and be sure to keep produce separate from raw meat and poultry. When choosing fresh-cut produce choose items that are stored properly in coolers or surrounded by ice.

 

Once home, make sure you’re washing the produce and countertops you’re using to prep them clean. Keep all produce, precut or otherwise, refrigerated at temperature of 40 degrees or lower.

Weddings and Food Allergies

At some point in the wedding planning process it’s pretty much guaranteed a bride will envision all things that can go wrong. One scenario people tend to overlook is food allergies. According to the Food Allergy Research and Education website, an estimated 32 million Americans have food allergies and that includes 5.6 million children. So the chance that someone attending your wedding has a food allergy isn’t far-fetched. So how do you go about planning your big day around food allergies? It’s actually not too difficult a problem to solve and in terms of wedding karma, it’ll definitely earn you some kindness credits!

 

The first thing you can do is briefly educate yourself on the various food allergies and sensitivities. You certainly don’t want anyone going hungry or not coming to your wedding at all simply because of menu restrictions. Most of the serious food allergy reactions are caused by 8 major allergens: milk, eggs, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean shellfish. Awareness is the first way you can avoid serious health scares at your wedding.

 

Include a space for food allergy information on your RSVPs. This is a great way to double check any food restrictions. Your guests will be appreciative, and you’ll have the information you need to make sure no one is left out and no one gets sick. This is especially important if someone has a severe allergy to something and even having it in the air can cause a reaction. The information will help you decide what to serve or put out on tables for snacks and favors.

 

Having a seating chart is another great way to handle food allergies. You can plan tables according to allergies. Plus, name cards can have indicators as well. This will also help caterers and servers when it comes to serving the food. A seat chart removes some of the probability of human error. Servers can double check the right food is going to the correct guest.

More than 15% of school-aged children with food allergies have had an allergic reaction at school

As August turns into September every school-aged child begins to think, and probably worry about, if their friends will still be friends, if the course material will be too challenging, if their teachers will be nice, or if they’ll make that sports team they’ve been planning on trying out for.

However, for kids with food allergies, those concerns only add to the other concerns they’re having. They’re wondering if everyone in their class knows not to bring peanut products, if the lunchroom staff knows they can’t have eggs or gluten, if the teachers know that rewarding with food treats can be life threatening, or if the other children will make fun of them for not being able to eat the same foods. According to the Food Allergy Research and Education website, more than 15% of school-aged children with food allergies have had an allergic reaction at school. These reactions can range anywhere from mild to fatal. It’s a serious concern and awareness is essential.

So, how do we help those kids with food allergies? We have to make teachers, parents, and other students aware of the dangers and how they can help be part of a solution.

Here are a few tips:

Classrooms can be food-free
It might be the easiest route to just keep all food out of the classroom. That way, no one has to worry or think about what’s allowed in and what’s restricted.
Restrict Identified Allergens from Classrooms
If snacks aren’t taken out of the classrooms completely, it needs to be well-known by all students, teachers, and parents which foods are dangerous allergens. Those foods must be restricted from snacks, parties, or other activities.
Find Fun and Inclusive Ways to Celebrate
It’s a wonderful gesture to bring treats and snacks into the classroom for parties and holidays, but that gesture can marginalize or be dangerous to some kids. Instead, try extra recess or celebrate with games and free-time.
Educate Your Kids
Inclusion and acceptance can go a long way in helping any child adapt. If everyone knows that there are just some foods that are dangerous for their classmates, understanding and recognition can happen.
Seek out Resources
In addition to explaining to kids about food allergies, find activities, resources, videos, or testimonials to share with children in, and out of the classroom. If the ideas are delivered in a fun and inclusive manner, children are more likely to respond to that information.

All-in-all, excluding foods from the classroom as opposed to excluding children from participating in activities is the best way to handle food allergies at school. Kids with food allergies will have their own emergency plans and their parents will have discussed with staff and teachers what to do in the event of a reaction. In order to ensure everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow, and enjoy school, allergen awareness is critical. Remember, safety isn’t a privilege, it’s a fundamental right to every child in every classroom.

Health Inspection Ratings Now on Yelp!

The CDC estimates that each year, 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. Food safety is more important than ever and is becoming a hot topic issue. With states continuing to reform and pass laws that create stricter food safety requirements, it’s no surprise that Yelp is now going to publish health inspection ratings along with reviews.

The update is part of the company’s Local Inspector Value Entry Specification, or LIVES, program. The health inspection score will update on a business’s page to reflect the most current information regarding hygiene.
[/cs_text][x_image type="none" src="https://alwaysfoodsafe.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Chef-cooking-a-dish.jpg" alt="" link="false" href="#" title="" target="" info="none" info_place="top" info_trigger="hover" info_content=""][cs_text]The emphasis on food safety and the dedication to unifying the restaurant industry is something that will only continue to gain attention. Yelp is hoping that publishing health inspection scores will have a positive impact on consumers and the industry itself. Apparently, the first few major cities in which Yelp included the scores along with the reviews have seen a decrease in hospitalizations from foodborne illness. In addition, posting hygiene scores on Yelp has led to a 12 percent decrease in purchase intentions for restaurants with low scores relative to those with higher scores.

The push for food safety highlights the importance of hygiene, food rotation, and allergy awareness. Consumers can already locate health code ratings through other avenues with some digging, but mobile devices make it easier for customers to rely on reviews for restaurant suggestions. Adding health scores will provide consumers with more information for that selection process.
[/cs_text][x_image type="none" src="https://alwaysfoodsafe.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Plates-of-food.jpg" alt="" link="false" href="#" title="" target="" info="none" info_place="top" info_trigger="hover" info_content=""][cs_text]Next time you’re browsing for lunch options on your road trip, you won’t have to take the chance that food poisoning will ruin your getaway; just check the health inspection ratings on Yelp!

How to Bake Gluten-Free

Chapter 3 Allergens

In the US, over 15 million people have a food based allergy. That is a frightening statistic and the number of people with an allergy is growing!

You have both a legal and moral responsibility to protect anyone who has an allergy. You get this part wrong and you could kill somebody.

So what exactly is a food allergy and how does it affect someone?

A food allergy occurs when the bodys immune system, which normally works to protect the body, mistakenly attacks a food protein. The body sees the certain food protein as a threat and attempts to defend itself, sometimes with fatal consequences. For those who suffer from allergies, even the smallest amount of an allergenic substance can cause a reaction that ranges from a mild tingling sensation to anaphylactic shock and even death if not treated quickly. Since the causes of allergic reactions and food intolerance are still unknown, avoiding the offending food is currently the only way a sufferer can manage their condition.

What are the symptoms of an Allergic Reaction?

15 million people suffering from allergies is a frightening number and you need to be able to spot the signs of an allergenic reaction. The time it takes between recognising an attack and an emergency assistance response can quite simply be a matter of life and death. Now the type of reaction and its severity will depend on the individual. In some cases, even a very small amount of an allergen such as nuts or even the dust particles from nuts can cause a severe adverse reaction including a potentially fatal anaphylactic shock. Reactions can include:

  • Flushing/redness of the skin and hives
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • A sudden fall in blood pressure causing weakness, dizziness, and even unconsciousness
  • Difficulty in swallowing or speaking due to the swelling of the throat and tongue
  • Difficulty breathing due to constricting of the airways
  • Severe asthma
  • Collapse & unconsciousness (anaphylactic shock)
  • Death

Any person who says they have an allergy must be taken seriously and as an industry we have a moral and legal duty to protect the customers we serve!

What types of food are allergens?

Although any food can potentially cause an allergic reaction, only 8 are thought to be responsible for over 98% of allergenic reactions. These include:

  • Peanuts and Tree Nuts (which include walnuts and pecan nuts)
  • Milk and dairy products (lactose intolerance)
  • Eggs and egg products
  • Soy and soy products
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Wheat (gluten and cereals containing Gluten)

How are Allergic reactions avoided?

Most people who suffer from allergies are aware and will be very careful when ordering and eating out. If they are uncertain or doubt the information you provide, they will usually avoid any dish that has the potential to harm them. However, it is your legal responsibility to be able to answer any question confidently and accurately. Always check! If you guess -you could kill somebody!

Best Practice

Be sure to have access to a folder containing all recipe information. This is a great way of re-assuring allergy sufferers and proving you run or work for a professional business that cares for its customers.

Beware of Hidden Allergens

Hidden allergens are probably the biggest threat to your customers safety and you MUST take care when developing a dish or using an ingredient in a finished product.

Here are some typical examples of HIDDEN INGREDIENTS in commonly used products.

  • Fish (anchovies) in: Worcestershire sauce, Special Fried Rice
  • Shellfish in: Special Fried Rice
  • Milk in: Cheese, Potato Snacks, Yogurt, Butter, Cream
  • Nuts in: Indian Curry Pastes/Sauces, Thai Pastes/Sauces, Cooking Oils, Bread
  • Soy in: Cooking oil, Soy Sauce
  • Eggs in: Pastry, Pastry Glaze
  • Wheat in: Bread, Pastry, Pizza Bases, Pasta such as Lasagne sheets, Stock Cubes, and Worcestershire sauce.

Our Best Practice suggestion is when you are adding an ingredient, carefully read the manufacturers ingredient declaration panels. Always check and be sure!

You may not want to change or remove the ingredient from your dish, but you need to understand which hidden allergens it contains and more importantly, add this to your recipe list and make sure all staff are aware.

How can communication save lives?

Clear and frequent communication is vital in helping to prevent an allergenic reaction. Everybody in the business needs to understand why these procedures are in place and appreciate just how dangerous an allergenic reaction can be. A good idea is to suggest that your company has team briefings. They are an ideal time to train, discuss menu and supplier changes and establish how to communicate allergy information to your customers. Establish a clear procedure on how front-of-house staff communicate with the kitchen staff when an allergy sufferer is eating in the business.

Key Point!

Always make sure new and temporary staff also understand about Allergens, as this can be a weak link in your operation. Encourage everyone to ask if they are in doubt.

Remember: Communicate -Communicate Communicate!

How are Suppliers & Storage involved in Allergen control?

At this stage, it would be good to talk about suppliers and storage. Only use approved suppliers that you trust and who can provide detailed ingredient information. If your supplier delivers a product that is not your normal brand, carefully check the ingredients panel to make sure the product is suitable. Always check for hidden ingredients! With regards to storage, have clearly-labelled, dedicated storage containers for named allergens with secure lids to avoid cross-contamination. Clear, strong plastic storage boxes are ideal.

Try to store allergenic foods in a separate area of the storage room. If this is not possible due to the size of storage, position allergenic foods on the lower/bottom shelves to prevent spillage and cross-contamination problems.

Always use dedicated scoops to decant each allergenic product. Do not be tempted to use one scoop for several products.

Thinking about Food Preparation: Cook & Assembly of the Dish

Lets discuss Food Preparation. Specifically, how a dish is cooked and how it is assembled. At this stage of the process, the risk of cross-contamination is at its highest.

One moments lapse of concentration can have tragic consequences. A common and simple mistake when busy is to use the same stirring spoon, cross-contaminating the dish in seconds!

It is also common practice for a wok or frying pan to be wiped between dishes as the high cooking temperatures involved kill pathogenic bacteria. However, this does not remove traces of allergens. A similar risk occurs with oven and baking trays.

We strongly recommend some Best Practice of having a set of separate items such as spoons, ladles, tongs, knives, pans and oven trays. These should be stored separately and used when a customer informs staff of an allergy. Make sure they are thoroughly cleaned afterwards and not used for other products when busy.

Also, a strict hand washing policy must be observed before preparing allergen-free dishes. All staff must be aware of this policy including front-of-house staff.

A good idea is to plan new dishes a few days before you serve them. This way all staff can be made aware and ensure they have the recipe available if a customer asks. Watch out for hidden ingredients such as cooking oils. And if you do accidentally cross-contact a dish, you must destroy it and start again. Remember -even the tiniest amount of peanut dust or particle is enough to kill someone.

What Allergen risks are there for Front of House service?

Alongside preparation and cooking, front of house is probably the most dangerous area and where it can go terribly wrong when it comes to Allergens. The three main danger points are:

  • Self Service
  • Menu Information
  • Staff yes that means YOU might be a danger point!!!

Lets look at each of these.

Self Service

Self-Service areas that allow the customer to serve themselves are an area for real concern because of cross-contamination. Where customers serve themselves, separate serving utensils must be used for each food item to avoid cross-contamination. Ideally, have a member of staff available to help customers and monitor the buffet. This way serving utensils and food can be quickly replaced if they become cross-contaminated. Service spoons, forks or tongs will carry allergens. It is essential that separate and clean serving utensils are always used for allergy sufferers.

Menu Information

The best option when creating your menus is to make them clear and easy to read for those with food allergies. Try to mention allergens in the menu description, for example: Strawberry Tart with Almonds. Add a statement on your menu. For example: Before you order your food and drinks, please speak to a member of staff if you have a food allergy or food intolerance. Also, if you have menus on the table, clean them as often as possible. Just think how many hands will touch the menu in a day. In extreme allergy sufferers, even touching a menu that has even the slightest trace of peanut dust left from a previous customer is enough to trigger a reaction.

Front of House Staff

If a customer has a question or request about allergens within a particular dish, listen carefully to what the customer is telling you and write down the information. Read the information back to the customer to check you have accurate instructions for the chef. Always be honest and ask if you don't know. If you cannot find the information required, again be honest and inform the customer. They would rather be safe and will appreciate your honesty.

How does Cleaning help manage Allergen risks?

Effective and thorough cleaning plays a vital part in reducing the risk of allergenic cross-contamination. If you are asked to prepare a meal for someone who has a severe allergy to nuts for example, you need to determine what, where, and how you clean before starting the prep.

Think of the Danger Points:

  • Cooler/freezer handles
  • Preparation area
  • Food products already in use on the prep area, cooking area and assembly area
  • It might be worth waiting a few minutes for service to pass before beginning cleaning
  • Utensils, pots, pans, knives etc. that are needed
  • Plates, cutlery, glasses
  • Check your clothing -what about your chef coat, apron, and hat? Are they clean?

An important point to remember is that a sufferer will be prepared to wait the extra few minutes rather than risk the threat of a severe allergenic reaction. Make sure you inform them why there may be a delay, they will appreciate it!

Conclusion

As we mentioned at the start of this chapter, Food Allergies are a serious and growing threat you need to be aware of. Any person who says they have an allergy must be taken seriously and as an industry we have a moral and legal duty to protect the customers we serve!

So, lets wrap up with a few vital key points.

1/. Communication is key! You must understand what the customer is asking for and you need to ensure that the kitchen and front of house staff understand one another. And be honest if you dont know something say so! 2/. Watch for hidden ingredients Do you know exactly what is in a certain recipe? As before, it goes back to communication.

Quick Questions!

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Coming next

Well see you in Chapter 4 where we are going to look more closely at Time and Temperature Control.

Top Tips to Safe Eating

We've all been hungry, tired and just want to find anywhere to eat.

However, more often than not this leads to bad food, service and experience. Here are a few tips to help you when trying to find a new place to eat.....

1. Proof of Certification

There are a couple things that we suggest that you do before you even arrive at a restaurant, but our number one tip would be to call ahead and ask about the certifications of the staff.

Ask about the cooks and servers food safe certifications. There are numerous options out there, so take note of what they say and check to see that it is legitimate.

Restaurant staff should always be Food Handler & Allergen Awareness trained, asked to see if staff are.

2. Do they take food allergies seriously?

This obviously is one that you only must worry about should you have allergies, although it is a great test for how food smart the staff member on the phone is.

Let them know of what your allergies are, whether it is gluten, peanuts, or dairy, and ask what sort of alternative they have. If they seem clueless about the question, start looking for another restaurant.

3. Reviews - Trust people's feedback

This may require only a quick Google search. A bad report is going to be the first thing that a search brings up, but keep in mind the amount of time that has passed since that incident.

Consider the reviews, if a restaurant has survived from a previous failure and the reviews suggest that it has cleaned itself up accordingly, you may use your discretion. You can always excuse yourself if you make a visit and it does not appear as the reviews had suggested.

4. Look for Red Flags

Brazen restaurants put their staff in the open so that everyone can watch their practices.

It’s a good start for trusting the sanitary practices of their staff, but you should consider what the practices are for the prep work, or what is done behind closed doors. If the staff appears orderly, and prepared, you can relax, red flags are obvious: handling food without gloves, preparing food on unclean surfaces, not washing the hands when leaving the restroom.

5 Foods to Help with Spring Allergies

It’s no secret that, for many, spring can be quite the pain. Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. So yes, the snow is melting, the temps are warming, and summer is on its way, but spring also brings with it itching, sneezing, and watery eyes for those who struggle with allergies. Prescriptions drugs or over-the-counter meds help, but can be quite expensive. The average cost of treatment can range anywhere from $3-$3,000 depending on the frequency and treatment method.

 

Food, when prepared and used safely, can provide many benefits. One of those benefits is that certain foods can help reduce allergy symptoms. Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you go out and find rare, exotic, or strange foods. These are things you can find at any local grocery store and, as we roll into spring, should consider stalking in your fridge:

 

Pineapple:

Aside from being just a fabulous, crown-wearing fruit, pineapples are a great source of Bromelain. This enzyme is used to reduce inflammation, especially of the nose and sinuses.

 

Foods Rich in Probiotics:

Yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, and the popular fermented tea drink, Kombucha, are all excellent sources of probiotics. These foods produce healthy bacteria which can help with a number of ailments. You could not only get help with your allergies, but also strengthen your immune system and have healthier skin too!

 

Local Raw Honey:

A spoon full of honey helps your allergies subside (we hope you sang that in your head to the Mary Poppins song). Get ready to have your mind blown: raw honey will help relieve watery eyes, congestion, and pretty much most allergy symptoms because it contains the very pollen your allergies stem from!

 

Vitamin C:

Vitamin C works as a natural antihistamine and, luckily, there are a lot of different foods that contain high amounts of it. Since our bodies don’t naturally produce or store vitamin C, it’s important that we get it from other sources. Here’s a surprise though, strawberries, sweet yellow peppers, parsley, broccoli, and kale all have more vitamin C than oranges!

 

Food safety is more than reporting on the latest foodborne illness outbreaks. It’s important to recognize all the ways food can impact our lives.

 

Why is Food Safety So Important?

How many times have we heard someone complain of a stomach ache or nausea and claim it was something they ate? How many times in the last year have we read headlines and news stories about the latest food illness outbreak? Chances are, you or someone you know can relate to both of those scenarios. “Food poisoning,” or reactions stemming from foodborne illnesses have become so common it’s hardly alarming anymore. In fact, each year, 48 million Americans suffer from foodborne illness in some manner. Leafy green vegetables are the most commonly cause food sickness.

 

Food illness is caused primarily by several pathogens. Most people are familiar with E. coli, Listeria, Norovirus, and Salmonella. These are just a few of the pathogens that can cause sickness if food isn’t properly produces, stored, transported, and prepared.

 

Food safety is important from the ground to the table and everything in between. We often overlook the dangers of food illness in the early stages of food production. Food safety is critical because we have to create a food safety culture; one where food illness isn’t normalized.

 

Beyond preventing illness, food safety also allows you to enjoy quality food at the peak of its flavor and taste. Food safety practices also allows us to get the fullest nutritional value of our food. Food safety also saves you time and money. Often, the proper food safety practices are more efficient.

 

Proper food safety means fewer sick people, less food waste, and more money saved. Learn more about food safety certification courses on our website!