Blog

70% Turnover in the Restaurant Industry

According to statistics from the National Restaurant Association the turnover rate in the restaurant industry is over 70%!

This staggering figure is actually an increase on 2016, so why are people not staying in jobs for the long term?

Here are 3 main reasons:

  1. One third of working teenagers are employed in restaurants, that equates to 1.6 million workers, however, many move on to other professions, or college; so these roles are relatively short lived.

 

  1. Students also play a big role in the restaurant industry, with 27% of eating and drinking place employees being enrolled in school. So, this means when they go home for summer, or finish college altogether, they leave their job in the restaurant industry and start their chosen profession.

 

  1. During the holidays, many restaurants have to employ seasonal staff to cope with demand. Over the summer season up to half a million extra jobs are created to deal with the demand. However, when it is quieter the jobs no longer exist.

 

Looking for work in the food industry?

If you’re looking for work in the food industry it’s important that you have your Food Handler qualification before applying for roles – this will give you a distinct advantage over the competition.

The Cost of Re-Hiring: $5,864 a Staff Member

With the employee turnover rate for the restaurant industry at 70% for the second consecutive year it must feel like you never have time to do what you’re good at; running a restaurant!

Not only is staff turnover time consuming, stressful and more than likely to cause you to work every day of the week, it is also expensive.

Think of the advertising, interview and training costs for every new employee. Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research put the cost at $5,864 per employee.

This is money that businesses just throw away ever year, when there is a simple way to stop employee turnover – EMPOWER YOUR EMPLOYEES, it’s that simple.

How can you empower your employees?

Three words: Training, Training, Training!

Forbes’ research found that 28% of all employees quit within the first 90-120 days of employment, due to a lack of training and support.

And in just 6 months staff will have forgotten 90% of the training methods you taught them, so it’s important to make continuous training part of your business culture.

When staff receive training, they feel valued, appreciated and see potential within their job. This makes them less likely to leave, as they see a clear future with the business.

A lack of training can make many employees feel underappreciated and can become disillusioned with their role within the organization.

How can Always Food Safe help your business?

Always Food Safe can make your life as a restaurant manager a lot easier, and will please your local health inspector to no end on their next visit.

Not only do our online Food Handler courses teach your staff everything they need to know to keep themselves and your customers safe, but we will provide them with continued training while working for your business.

Every two months we send out an email and video link to your staff members with a two to three-minute update/refresher on certain key food safety topics. For example: Temperature Control, Hand Washing or Personal Hygiene.

Six times a year a learner has the opportunity to refresh their understanding of key food safety points. We believe we are the only company to offer these unique points, and why many major businesses chose our company.

If you want to begin your businesses journey to employee engagement give our team a call at 1-844-312-2011 today.

Sanitizers & Detergents - What's the Difference?

Sanitizers and detergent are both used in cleaning restaurants, but there are distinct differences between the two of them and when to use them. A key part of food safety is knowing these differences and which situations to use sanitizer and detergent will help keep your kitchen clean and prevent cross-contamination.

What’s the difference between detergents and sanitizers?

The major difference between detergents and sanitizers is that a sanitizer kills 99.9% of pathogenic bacteria–meaning it reduces bacteria to a safe level. Detergents remove dirt, food waste, and grease

Important things to remember:

  • To kill or reduce pathogenic bacteria to a safe level, items and equipment must be sanitized after having been cleaned with a detergent.
  • A sanitizer must be used AFTER cleaning with a detergent, since a sanitizer cannot remove grease and dirt.
  • The sanitizer must also be left on the surface long enough to work properly; this is called the 'contact time' (always check the manufacturer’s instructions).

Remember, a detergent removes dirt, food waste and grease—a sanitizer kills pathogenic bacteria.

What should you clean with detergent?

Detergents should be used to clean the following:

  • Floors
  • Walls
  • Storage shelves
  • Garbage containers

These are surfaces that may have dirt, food waste, and grease that must be removed before sanitizing.

What should you sanitize?

The items that you need to sanitize depend on their use and if they come into contact with food. Rule of thumb is if they come into contact with hands or food, sanitize them to prevent cross-contamination.

Hand contact surfaces:

Hand contact surfaces include anything that is frequently touched by your hands.

  • Handles
  • Doors
  • Coolers and freezers
  • Drawers
  • Faucets
  • Switches
  • For front of house, sanitize the order tablets

Food contact surfaces:

Be sure to sanitize any surface that comes into contact with raw or high-risk foods. These will include:

  • Cutting boards, preparation tables, and work surfaces
  • Knives, tongs, and other utensils
  • Containers, pots, and pans
  • Food processing machinery such as slicers, mixers, and meat grinders

Wiping cloths

You also need to sanitize wiping cloths as they are a major source of cross-contamination. Make sure to replace wiping cloths often.

Key Takeaways

  • To kill or reduce pathogenic bacteria to a safe level, items and equipment must be sanitized after having been cleaned with a detergent.
  • A sanitizer must be used AFTER cleaning with a detergent, because a sanitizer cannot remove grease and dirt.
  • The sanitizer must also be left on the surface long enough to work properly; this is called the 'contact time' (always check the manufacturer’s instructions).

 

Watch our quick two minute video for more information on when to use sanitizer and detergent. And learn more about keeping your kitchen clean and prevent cross-contamination by taking our food handlers training course.

Pest Control

According to research conducted by Time Magazine  poor pest control was the 5th highest reason for foodborne illness in the restaurant sector.

Here at Always Food Safe we want to highlight to you the main problems, how to solve them and some best practices for you to keep in mind.

What are the main pest problems?

Pests fall under 4 main groups, these are:

  1. Insects – flies, moths, ants, cockroaches and wasps
  2. Stored product pests such as beetles, termites and weevils
  3. Rats, mice and racoons
  4. Birds

Food premises are very attractive to a pest, because your establishment will contain everything they need, such as: food, warmth, moisture, and shelter. If they get in they’ll be like a kid in a candy store!

Prevention

Don’t give pests a sniff, just clean as you go! If you keep a clean workplace there will be a much lower chance of having a pest problem.

Clean as you go should be the motto for you and all of your staff – don’t give pests a chance to find food, so if you spill some food make sure it’s cleaned up immediately!

It’s also important to pest proof your building overall, this can sometimes be called denial of access – if you pest proof your building you will make it much less likely for pests to be able to gain access insider your building.

However, if the worst happens and you do get a pest in your premise, don’t wait, contact , they will eliminate any pests.

We recommend the use of PCO, as they are the experts.

Best Practice Suggestions

Now you know the main pests, the problems and how to prevent them, we wanted to give you a few best practice tips to help you and your staff on a day to day basis.

  • Firstly, regularly inspect the building to check for evidence of pests.
  • Make sure you check deliveries carefully - some pests have entered food premises in packaging, vegetables, fruit, cereals and grain.
  • Check stored goods regularly and rotate stock.
  • Keep food covered at all times.
  • Never leave food in the preparation area when you are closed or overnight.
  • Store food off the floor in suitable containers.
  • Report any signs of damaged, torn, pierced or gnawed packaging.
  • Report any signs of pest activity – droppings, dead bodies, gnaw marks, unusual odors, nesting or unusual noise.
  • Store food waste in trash containers with securely fitting lids.
  • Keep doors and windows closed unless you have correctly fitting screens.
  • Report any sighting or signs of pests to your supervisor immediately.

Cooking Temperatures

As a business in the food industry it’s important that your team understand what temperature different food groups need to be cooked at to keep your customers safe.

Click on the link to get the USDA recommended safe minimum internal temperatures: http://bit.ly/2qaBXVc.

You must hit these temperatures and times as a minimum – A good control measure is setting their cooking temperatures at a higher level, for a longer time. Just to be safe!

Hot Holding Food

The most important rule is to keep food at a minimum of 135F or above.

It’s important to stir food regularly to make sure all parts of the food stays at this temperature.

Best Practices for hot holding

  1. 4 hours should be the maximum time you hold hot food
  2. Never add new food to old food! Make sure you throw the old food away, sanitize the serving dish/cutlery and replace with new food.

Best practices for re-heating food

  1. Only remove food from the cooler just before re-heating. The food must be re-heated to 165F for 15 seconds
  2. Never use hot holding equipment to re-heat food more than once. You must throw away food after it has been re-heated once.

Cooling Hot Food

Cooling hot food is the biggest cause of foodborne illness in America

As a company we believe that in most situations 2 hours (The FDA say 6) is too long for food to be left in the Temperature Danger Zone, we recommend doing this within 30 minutes.

Best practices for cooling hot food 

  • Whenever possible use large, shallow trays and pans (two to three inches deep) for cooling food, because the larger surface area helps to speed up the cooling process
  • Divide hot food into smaller or thinner portions
  • Use an ice bath. Transfer the hot food to a clean, cold container and place the container in a larger one that holds ice or water. Add new ice or cold water at regular intervals to speed up the process
  • Stir or rotate food while it is cooling
  • After removing cooked roasts and whole chickens from their juices, transfer the food to a clean, cold container with enough space for air to circulate and make sure it is covered
  • Cover and protect all food from cross-contamination while it is cooling
  • Keep regularly checking the temperature of the food to make sure you do not leave it in the Temperature Danger Zone longer than necessary
  • Never place hot food in a cooler as this will raise the temperature of the cooler and cause condensation that could cross-contaminate other foods

Never cool food at room temperature.

Tips for Sourcing Fresh Ingredients

“Buying Local” is a huge trend and as we see globalization continue to create longer and more complex food supply chains, it can be tough to source fresh ingredients to meet the needs of a restaurant.

Using locally sourced ingredients offers advantages for chefs and customers alike. Working directly with local farmers is a great way to boost the local economy and, cutting down on how far your meat and produce has to travel, will reduce your carbon footprint.

With the emphasis on Responsible Growth for businesses and the ever-popular “farm-to-table” movement that has consumers demanding for locally grown foods, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that sourcing local, fresh ingredients is more than a health trend; at this point, it’s business savvy.

So how can you stay competitive and still meet the bottom line? Here are some tips on sourcing fresh and local ingredients that will help you get started.

Hit up those Farmers Markets

The farmers market in your area is a great place to pick up the freshest produce and support the community. In addition, it’s an opportunity to form connections and network with the producers who have the ingredients you need.

Another perk is that even if a particular farmer doesn’t sell the produce or meat and dairy you need, chances are they can point you in the direction of someone who does. That’s the benefit of working within a community.

You can also develop connections with growers associations and cheese-maker guilds through networking at the farmers market.

After making those connections, you’ve opened the door to communicate with the producers during the off-season. You can discuss the ingredients you’ll want to buy in the future to ensure a plentiful supply of fresh, tasty food a few months down the line. Be specific about what you’ll be willing to purchase and the quantities you’re interested in.

Knowledge is Power

Enjoying the rush of working in a restaurant, thrive don’t just survive!

There are few entry level positions that demand the ability to tussle with stress, manage priorities, and communicate efficiently like the ones you would find at a restaurant. However, if you have the knowledge to back up your natural skills you can go very far, very quickly in the foodservice industry.

Show your manager you know what you’re doing

When starting a role, you’ll be eager to impress, so knowing some simple basics can put you in a manager’s “good books” early on. Areas of knowledge such as:

  • Cooking temperatures for meals
  • Correct cleaning policies
  • Dress code
  • Bringing your certificate in on the first shift

 

Treat customers as individuals and you will be rewarded in $

The lifeblood of a foodservice worker is understanding each customer. If you treat a customer as an individual they will have a far greater experience and engage with you more.

Simple questions like:

  • Do you have any food allergies?
  • You may not be aware that this meal has nuts in it. Is that ok?

These can make a customer feel more welcome, but it could also save their life.

Smile and laugh on shift, it’s not supposed to be miserable!

People in different positions among staff also understand that there will be times when they, or another station will fail. Tensions could race into red in these instances. Yet, experienced members understand during a rush, it is best to have a sense of humor.

After all, there will always be another order!

Be the best you can be!

Whether you are contemplating a career in the food industry or just need a bit of refresher information, Always Food Safe’s training courses could be exactly what you need.

Whether it is Allergen Awareness training (it’s now a legal requirement in Illinois!) or Food Handler training we provide online, accredited training for you.

It's not just about peanuts

Do your staff know about the different allergens – do they really? Here’s a little cheat sheet to help you and your staff.

One in thirteen children are diagnosed with a life-threatening food allergy. With allergies in children increasing from 1997 to 2011 by 50% according to Food Allergy Research and Education, there are no signs that this will slow in the coming years. Food service industries, schools, and parents are attempting to track the different allergies and symptoms to prevent a vicious reaction.

In recognition of National Peanut month -the most prolific in growth of all food allergies, an extensive list of other food allergens to be on alert for was gathered here:

Milk

Around the globe, it has been argued that roughly 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. Most of the individuals that have the allergy do not suffer from a serious allergic reaction, not recognizing that they are lactose intolerant. With this much of the population having allergies to milk, there are many who have severe pain from ingesting milk and other dairy products.

Did you know casein, a protein found in milk, is often found in breath mints?

Eggs

Although very rarely the cause of a life-threatening reaction, egg allergies affect children mostly and are outgrown over time.

Did you know that marshmallows often use egg whites instead of gelatin to help retain their shape?

Fish and Shellfish

Unlike eggs, fish and shellfish allergies are often developed in adulthood. Fish allergies are among the most often to be caused by cross-contamination,  A good fish restaurant can still be a place for people with allergies can go, it’s just vital that cross-contamination is halted and staff understand the dangers.

Watch for soy sauce! Common sauces and condiments use shellfish. Watch the ingredient list for soy sauce and Worcestershire.

Tree Nuts

Walnuts, almonds, and cashews are among the many tree nuts that cause this allergy. A person that is affected by the peanut allergen will have a reaction to these products as well.

Food isn’t the only dangerous category for those with tree nut allergies. Watch ingredient lists for soaps, lotions, and hair products. Gerbil food can also contain tree nuts.

Gluten

Wheat contains gluten, and can be found in many products that a parent or person with the allergy may not expect, like: soy sauce, ketchup, soaps, and sunscreens. With it being such a common product, physicians may prescribe medication in the case that gluten is ingested or absorbed. It is generally advised to avoid products that contain these altogether.

In the instance of a reaction, all symptoms will be similar in that it will cause a tight throat, hives, and anaphylaxis in severe cases. The FDA requires that allergies be places on products that contain food allergens, but that should not prevent a thorough inspection of the ingredients for yourself.

Licorice has gluten. Salad dressings have gluten. It’s not just cake – seems like all the good things have gluten. But with more gluten-free options and more individuals looking for gluten-free alternatives, this is changing rapidly. Look for the Gluten Free symbol on your favorites.

The importance of Allergen Awareness training

Your staff understanding how to deal with an allergy sufferer is vital - if they don't, they could kill someone!

States are now becoming more aware of the importance of allergen training, it is now a legal requirement in the following states for at least one member of staff to be trained.

States where Allergen Awareness training is a legal requirement:

4 Food Storage & Safety Procedures Every Food Handler Should Know

According to the latest research about food waste, over 40% of the U.S food supply is never consumed.

The most common reasons for this food waste is that restaurants are not sure how to store food, what food can be refrigerated, and the best use of their food.

Proper food storage involves having procedures to ensure that all of the food gets used up before it expires as well as storing it at the right temperature and location. Knowledge of proper food storage is not only important for restaurants to ensure the health of diners, but it’s also critical for food handler certification and employment.

Below are a few tips for every food handler or restaurant manager should know when it comes to food storage and safety.

1. Follow Stock Rotation Rules

Let’s talk about stock rotation. Stock rotation is the practice of moving products with earlier expiration dates forward to prevent food spoilage. Following stock rotation rules ensures that food doesn’t have to be thrown out because it wasn’t used before it expired. When following stock rotation rules, remember the acronym FIFO—first-in, first-out!

Use the shortest shelf life items first.

When using food that you have in stock for cooking or meal preparation, it’s important to use those items with the shortest shelf life first. That way, older ingredients won’t expire and go to waste.

Place items with the shortest shelf lives up front

When storing or displaying food, always put the stock with the shortest shelf life at the front. You will be able to see it more easily, and it will be cooked with first.

2. Use Recommended Refrigeration Temperatures

Keeping your refrigerator at the recommended temperature is crucial in preserving food and preventing pathogenic bacteria from multiplying. Here are some helpful safety tips to keep in mind when refrigerating food.

Take special care of high-risk foods

High risk time and temperature control (TCS) foods, such as milk, eggs, shellfish, fish and meats, must be refrigerated – they are the main priority.

It’s important to understand that keeping raw and TCS foods at 41°F or below will prevent or slow down pathogenic bacterial multiplication. Remember, the trick is to ensure that you keep food out of the Temperature Danger Zone. Anything over 41°F bacteria to multiply at a rapid speed.

Aside from high risk TCS foods, here is a list of perishable items that should be refrigerated at 41°F:

  •          Cooked meats, such as salami or ham
  •          Pies and pates
  •          Coleslaw, cottage cheese, and sandwich fillings
  •          Vacuum packed raw meat, poultry, and fish
  •          Anything labeled for refrigeration, such as bottled sauces without preservatives
  •          Prepared salads

Make sure that these foods are not left out for more than 2 hours. Bacteria could multiply to dangerous levels and cause foodborne illnesses.

Transfer and cover the contents of open cans

The contents of opened cans should be refrigerated once they have been transferred to suitable storage containers. Never put an opened metal tin of food in the cooler. The metal will rust quickly and cause chemical contamination.

Refrigerate vegetables and fruits

Some vegetables and fruits can be refrigerated if desired, but make sure that they are separated from other foods. Mixing produce with other food stock can result in … (contamination?)

 

3. Store Food in Coolers Correctly

Understanding how to stack food in a cooler correctly can reduce risks of cross contamination, keep food fresher for longer, and ultimately save you time and money as you will be able to get longer use out of your food inventory.

Below are a few best practices for safe food storage in coolers.

Store raw meat and poultry separately

Always store raw meat and poultry on shelves below other food so that blood or juices cannot drip onto other foods and cross-contaminate them.

Allow space for air circulation

Don’t overcrowd your cooler (the same goes for your refrigerator). Allow enough room around the food for air to circulate. This way, the cooler will be able to operate efficiently and maintain its target temperature.

Keep the cooler door shut

Do not leave cooler doors open any longer than necessary. Otherwise, the temperature inside the cooler will rise, putting food at risk for rapid bacteria growth.

Do not put hot food in the cooler

Unless you have a separate cooler, do not put hot food in a cooler as this will raise the temperature inside and may cause condensation, which can cause cross-contamination by dripping moisture onto other food.

 

4. Label Food Accurately and In Detail

Labelling food items before storing them lets a food handler know when the food needs to be used by. Below is a breakdown of how you should label different types of food:

  • Highly perishable packaged food, such as cooked meat, fish and dairy products, should be marked with a Use By date.
  • All ready-to-eat food that is prepared in-house must have a label that includes the name of the food and a Use By or expiration date.
  • Less perishable items, such as dried fruit, flour, chips, cereals and canned food, should have a Best Before date.

 

Tips on When to Throw Out Food

Following these food safety procedures will ensure that less food gets thrown out, but some food will inevitably go bad and need to be thrown out. Here are some

  •          The FDA says that prepared food and leftovers must be thrown out after 7 days maximum.
  •          If a TCS food is left out of the refrigerator for over 2 hours, you must throw it out.
  •          If the food is past the use by date, it is time to discard.

 

To learn more about proper food storage techniques, as well as other food safety tips, enroll in our food handler course.