Blog posts of '2019' 'January'

What Accounts for High Turnover Rates in the Restaurant Industry

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the turnover rate in 2018 for the restaurant industry is 75%!

This staggering figure is actually an increase from 2017.

Why are workers in the restaurant industry not staying in jobs for the long term? Here are 3 main reasons for this shocking rate.

1. Teenagers make up a large number of those employed by the restaurant industry

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

2. Many restaurant workers are also students

Students also play a big role in the restaurant industry, with 27% of eating and drinking place employees being enrolled in school. This means that eventually, they leave their job in the restaurant industry and start their chosen profession.

3. A large number of restaurant jobs are seasonal

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.

If you want more of a management position, consider getting your Food Protection Manager Certification

The Cost of Re-Hiring and How to Reduce Your Restaurant’s Turnover Rate

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 focus on running a restaurant.

Not only is staff turnover time-consuming and stressful—it is also expensive.

The advertising, interview, and training costs for a new employee and add up. Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research put the cost at $5,864 per employee.

This is money that could be saved by simply empowering your employees through training and giving them the knowledge they need to succeed at their job.

 

Empowering Employees with 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.

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.

So, make training part of your culture. It will benefit you, your employees, and your business.

 

Importance of Continuous Training

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

Training certificates only need to be renewed every couple of years, depending on the certification, but in the meantime, it’s important to give your employees training refreshers to help them retain more information. Even something as simple as a short recap video can help jog their memory on a particular subject.

 

Consider Video-Based Training

When it comes to training, save yourself time and money by switching to video-based food safety training. Not only do training videos cut down on training and onboarding costs, video-based training also engages employees and helps them better retain information. And if they know more about proper food safety, they will feel more empowered as an employee and will be more likely to stay.

 

Empower your employees by giving them all the training they need to succeed. Check out our online, video-based food handler, allergen awareness, and food protection manager training programs.

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.

Best Pest Control Practices

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

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, causing all sorts of problems for your business.

Here are the main problems and some best practices for you to keep in mind.

4 Main Type of Pests

Pests fall under 4 main groups, these are:

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

Prevention

Here are some best practices to implement regularly to keep pests out and stop them from contaminating your food.

Clean as you go

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!

Pest proof your building

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.

Regular inspections

Regularly inspect the building to check for evidence of pests. This ensures that you catch pests that might be hiding in your kitchen before they become too much of a nuisance.

Check deliveries

Make sure you check deliveries carefully - some pests have entered food premises in packaging, vegetables, fruit, cereals and grain.

Use proper food storage practices

Check stored goods regularly and rotate stock. Store food off the floor in suitable containers and keep food covered at all times to avoid pests getting in.

Don’t leave food out overnight

Never leave food in the preparation area when you are closed or overnight. This will just attract pests who could get into the food.

Report signs of pests

Report any sighting or signs of pests to your supervisor immediately. Signs include:

  •        Damaged, torn, pierced or gnawed packaging
  •        Droppings
  •        Dead pest sightings
  •        Gnaw marks
  •        Unusual odors
  •        Nesting
  •        Unusual noise.

Keep trash contained

Having food waste out and open attracts pests into your facility. Store food waste in trash containers with securely fitting lids.

Keep doors and windows closed

Don’t give pests an easy way to enter your kitchen. Keep doors and windows closed unless you have correctly fitting screens.

 

What to do if you find pests

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.

 

Learn more about pest control best practices by taking our food handlers training.

Cooking Temperatures and Food Safety

When preparing food, it’s important that you understand what temperature different food groups need to be cooked at to keep your customers safe.

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!

 

Internal Cooking Temperature

Make sure food reaches the USDA minimum internal cooking temperature in order to reduce the amount of pathogenic bacteria to a safe level before serving.

Here are the recommended minimum internal cooking temperatures based off the 2017 FDA Food Code.

165°F for <1 second

This includes poultry, stuffing (made with poultry, meat, or fish), stuffed foods (pasta, poultry, meat, seafood), and all foods that include TCS Food ingredients that have been previously cooked.

155°F for 17 seconds

Ground meat, mechanically tenderized meat, ground seafood, and shell eggs to be hot held should all reach the temperature of 155°F for 17 seconds.

145°F for 15 seconds

145°F for 15 seconds is the recommended time held at this internal temperature for roasts, such as beef, pork, veal, and lamb. Check out our pdf guide for alternative cooking temperatures and times for roasts.

135°F for no minimum time

Hot food such as vegetables, grains, legumes, and fruit should be held at 135°F or higher to ensure that pathogenic bacteria do not multiply.

 

Hot Holding Food

The most important rule is to keep food at a minimum of 135°F or above, as well as stir food regularly to make sure all parts of the food stays at this temperature.

Best practices for hot holding

Don’t surpass maximum hold time

4 hours should be the maximum time you hold hot food.

Never mix new food and old food

Never add new food to old food! Make sure you throw the old food away, sanitize the serving dish and cutlery, and replace with new food.

 

Reheating Food

Reheating food incorrectly and not reaching the minimum internal temperature required means that a large amount of pathogenic bacteria can form, leading to foodborne illness.

Food must be reheated to 165°F for 15 seconds.

Best practices for reheating food

Keep food in cooler until ready

Only remove food from the cooler just before reheating.

Only reheat once

Never use hot holding equipment to reheat 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.

That’s because going from hot to cold puts food in the Temperature Danger Zone, between 41°F - 140°F, where bacteria can multiply at an exponential rate.  

In most situations, 2 hours is too long for food to be left in the Temperature Danger Zone. We recommend doing cooling hot food within 30 minutes.

Best practices for cooling hot food 

Use right containers

Whenever possible, use large, shallow trays and pans (two to three inches deep) for cooling food. The larger surface area helps to speed up the cooling process.

Divide food up

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 food

Stir or rotate food while it is cooling.

Use the right container

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 food while cooling

Cover and protect all food from cross-contamination while it is cooling.

Check temperature

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 put hot food in cooler

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

Never cool food at room temperature. This will leave food in the temperature danger zone for too long.

 

Learn more about how to monitor food temperature and avoid spreading foodborne illness in our Food Handlers training.

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.

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.

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: