Blog posts of '2021' 'January'

Test Your Food Safety Knowledge: How Many Health Code Violations Can You Spot in this Video?

When it comes to putting food safety into practice, there is a lot think about. However, it’s important to pay attention and follow the correct food safety practices so you aren’t passing along a foodborne illness to your customers.

See how many health code violations the food handler does in this video.

This food handler in particular made many mistakes while preparing this meal, but here are the most essential safe food handling practices he should have implemented in order to safely prepare this dish.

Pest Control

Pests can get into food and spread pathogenic bacteria. On the first signs of rats or any other pests in your facility, tell your manager immediately so they can contact a pest control expert to eliminate them.

Don’t Leave TCS Foods Out

Don’t leave TCS foods (such as chicken) out for more than 2 hours to prevent temperature abuse. In the 3 hours this dish with chicken was left at room temperature in the temperature danger zone (between 40°F - 140°F), pathogenic bacteria had plenty of time to multiply to a dangerous level.

Cook TCS Foods To The Minimum Safe Internal Cooking Temperature

It is important to check the internal temperature of TCS foods with a thermometer to make sure it is at least to its recommended safe minimum internal cooking temperature.

Chicken, which is present in this dish, should be cooked to at least 165°F to ensure that the amount of pathogenic bacteria is reduced to a safe level before serving.

Wash Your Hands!

Wash your hands before handling food, after handling raw TCS foods, and after sneezing or coughing into your hands, just to name a few.

And in regards to the sneeze, if the food handler was feeling sick, he should have let his manager know, and possibly stayed home.

 

Want to learn more in depth about proper safe food handling procedures? Take our Food Handlers training course and get certified today.

Preventing Allergen Cross-Contact

32 million Americans have a food allergy, with 200,000 of those people requiring emergency medical care for an allergic reaction each year.

That’s why it is so important to ensure an allergen does not end up in a dish you are serving. One way allergens can end up in food is through cross-contact—when an allergen’s proteins come into contact with another food and mix. Even the smallest traces of an allergen could cause an allergic reaction.

Unlike pathogenic bacteria, cooking does not get rid of the allergen. Once an allergen comes into contact with the dish, the allergen’s proteins are in the dish. And if served to someone with that particular allergy, it could cause and allergic reaction. That is why knowing the proper procedures for handling allergens and preventing cross-contact is so crucial.

The following tips will help you prevent cross-contact and protect your customers.

 

Store Allergens Separately

Use a separate storage area for common food allergens. That way if anything spills or leaks, it does not contaminate other food and cause an allergic reaction somewhere down the road.

 

Clean and Sanitize Surfaces and Equipment

Knives, cutting boards, counters, utensils, and any equipment or surfaces that comes into contact with food need to be cleaned and sanitized before preparing an allergen-free meal. Allergen proteins can linger if not properly sanitized between each use.

 

Throw Out Dishes That Come into Contact with Allergens

Be cautious when preparing an allergen-free meal so an allergen does not touch it.

If an allergen comes into contact when preparing an allergen-free meal, do not try to pick it out and do not serve the dish. Once the allergen is in the dish, its proteins are present and serving it would put an allergy sufferer at risk of an allergic reaction. Remember, allergens cannot be cooked off, and even the smallest trace of an allergen could cause an allergic reaction. Discard the dish, then start over.

 

To learn more about preventing allergen cross-contact, check out our allergen awareness course.

Caring for Seniors Means Caring for Food: Advice on Food Safety for Caregivers

Preparing nutritious, delicious food for the seniors in your charge doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Even for those with allergies or specific dietary restrictions, follow a few simple steps to make sure the food you’re preparing is both safe and healthy:

 

1. Avoid allergens: What to look for

Symptoms of food allergies can range depending on the severity, but you could look for rashes around the mouth, swelling of the lips and tongue, or intestinal issues. More severe reactions can include anaphylactic shock, which is life-threatening and will need medical intervention.

 

Some of the most common food allergies include dairy, eggs, peanuts, shellfish, and soy, among others. To ensure you are providing the safest experience for your seniors, first, ask them if they have any known allergies. Even if they respond in the negative, it’s best to proceed with caution. Some allergies have been known to manifest in adulthood, perhaps as the result of a delayed sensitization period or a reaction with some other allergen, like pollen.

 

For seniors with food allergies, it’s important to take extra care in food preparation and storage. Instead of taking a chance on any of these serious side effects, follow a few quick tips. For one, always wash your hands between handling different kinds of foods. In addition, always cook allergen-free meals first (so potential allergens won’t be on your cooking surface), and use multiple cutting boards if possible. You should also strive to avoid cross-contamination and store ingredients properly — store allergenic ingredients in the same place in the kitchen, for example.

 

2. Try some healthy (allergen-free!) snack ideas

So what do you cook to ensure your seniors are getting the nutrients they need while at the same time avoiding illness or adverse reactions? Healthy snacks with few or no allergens are a great choice. Try to avoid foods that are high in sugar — instead, go for whole grains and whole vegetables.

 

Some delicious examples of healthy, allergen-free snacks can be high-protein energy balls, roasted chickpeas, avocado, or popcorn. These provide protein, good fats, and healthy carbs — not to mention, popcorn, at least, is a pretty low-calorie food.

 

Even seniors with a serious sweet tooth can have that desire sated with sweet treats like fruit salad, trail mix, and home-made popsicles. Get creative with these nutritious snack ideas, while keeping in mind that your senior may have dietary restrictions, and it’s easy to keep them healthy.

 

3. Watch how you cook!

Allergens aren’t the only trouble. As we get older, our immune systems decline. In addition, the liver and kidneys may not effectively get rid of bacteria as we get older, and the gastrointestinal tract holds on to food for a longer period of time, leading to more bacteria.

 

All of this means that it’s doubly important to take stock of how you’re cooking the meals provided to seniors. Food poisoning from undercooked meat, for example, can be much more severe for older citizens, so take care to fully cook chicken, beef, turkey, or whichever meat you are preparing to the minimum recommended internal temperature.

 

While you’re cooking, as we mentioned previously, make sure to wash your hands often after handling ingredients and before mixing. You should also sanitize every surface thoroughly and, when you’re done, store cooked food at the proper temperature (41 degrees Fahrenheit).

 

Bonus: Get certified!

By following these simple tips, you can keep your senior charges happy and healthy. But here’s an extra tip: Become a certified food manager. This certification and requisite training courses will prepare you for a job in the restaurant industry or in senior care. Contact Always Food Safe to become a certified food manager today.

Hear from an Industry Expert on The Importance of Food Safety

Why is there such an emphasis on food safety training?

That’s because when in the restaurant industry, food safety should be your primary concern. One simple mistake could put your customers at risk of contracting a foodborne illness or having an allergic reaction.

Don’t just take our word for it. Hear from a food safety expert who works in the restaurant industry talk about his experiences with food safety and the impacts it can make on your business if ignored.

The Expert

Ralph Iglesias is the Senior Director of Food Safety, Training, and Brand Compliance at Sizzler.

He shared with us insights into what a food safety expert does, what the industry looks like, as well as how he keeps up with ever-changing food safety regulations and how he implements them at his company.

Food Contamination

Cross-contamination and allergen cross-contact are easy, but dangerous, mistakes to make. However, they are also easy to prevent.

Ralph shares stories from his experience with contaminated food, showing why it’s important to continuously improve and reevaluate your food safety procedures.

Holding Food

Ralph shares how Sizzler constantly monitor their holding food in their salad bar—from tracking the temperatures to preventing cross-contamination.

Get a Quick Refresher with These Short Food Safety Recap Videos

There’s a lot to learn about food safety—meaning there’s a lot you have to remember in order to run a safe food establishment.

But even if you don’t have a lot of extra time, there are still ways to quickly review different food safety topics.

The following are short video recaps—under a minute long—to quickly give you a knowledge refresh so you can get back to keeping your kitchen safe.

Cooking Temperatures

Cooking food to their minimum recommended internal temperature can help reduce pathogenic bacteria to a safe level, so remembering what these are is crucial.

Cold Storage

When storing food in a cooler or freezer, proper food storage will help keep food from going bad or passing along a foodborne illness to your customers.

Sanitizers and Detergents

Knowing the difference between sanitizers and detergents will help you properly clean your kitchen and kill of pathogenic bacteria that could be lurking on surfaces or equipment.

Personal Hygiene

Are you following all of the best personal hygiene practices?

Vehicles of Contamination

Stop the spread of pathogenic bacteria to prevent contaminating the food you’re serving.

 

For a complete look at proper food safety procedures, check out our food handlers training course.

How Video-Based Learning Can Help Your Business

Food safety training was traditionally done in a classroom setting, but COVID-19 has pushed many things online, including learning. How can we adapt to these changes?

Video-based food safety training allows food handlers and managers to train from wherever, whenever. There are many other reasons to consider video-based training in addition the ability to take a food safety course from the safety of your own home.

Read more to discover how video-based training can benefit you, your employees, and your business.

Greater Flexibility

Taking an in-person food safety course means that you will have to work on their schedule. Video-based learning allows you to complete the training in your own time and at your own pace. No need to travel to and from the classroom.

You also do not need to train staff yourself. They can just watch the videos to complete the training on their own.

More Engaging

There are many learning styles, but video-based learning has proven to keep learners’ attention and help them better retain the information.

75% of employees are more likely to watch a video than to read text. In addition to paying more attention to video-based training, learners who watch videos better retain the information over time, making video training more effective than reading a textbook.

Cost-Effective

The cost of classroom training can add up. Since video-based training is online and does not require a classroom or an individual instructor, it ends up saving you money in the long run.

 

Always Food Safe offers video-based training with food handler, food protection manager, and allergen awareness courses. See how switching to online, video-based training can help you and your business.