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Being smart when choosing a place to eat – Our top tips

We’ve all been like the people in the photo above. 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.

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Food Puns don't get any better than this!

Here at Always Food Safe we love a food related joke, so lettuce entertain you for a few minutes. See what we did there??! Well, if you don’t like that you may not want to keep going.

To ease you in we’ll start with a corny one…….

  • Courtesy of: http://www.guy-sports.com/funny/foody_jokes.htm

  • Courtesy of: https://www.pinterest.nz/pin/308004062007863791/

  • Courtesy of: http://www.wicklowmontessoriprimaryschoolcoders.me

  • Courtesy of: www.memecenter.com

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Training your staff shouldn’t be a growing pain for an emerging business!

“We keep all our training certificates in a book, we only have 4 staff” Business owner 2016
“Can someone please go out and buy a new folder? We need somewhere to put our training documentation” Business owner 2018

The saying a change is as good as a rest has never been more apt for growing food businesses in America. The major factor in many companies not pushing their business onto the next step is simply not changing their protocol.
We’ve all heard the excuses:

  • “We’re still only small, a Health Inspector won’t care about us”
  • “I think we have everyone’s certificate”
  • “The company doesn’t pay for the training, so why is it our responsibility?”

These will not fly with a Health Inspector and many good, hard working restaurants have been shut down because they haven’t made time to work on their training protocol.

Let Always Food Safe take care of your training protocol

Always Food Safe have helped hundreds of small to medium sized businesses update their training protocol, so it is 100% online, and certificates are stored in one, easy to access area.

The complimentary, online management system is completely free, the only thing paid for (by staff or the business) is the training.

Take a look at our 90 second video below:

Protect your business today, and talk to Always Food Safe
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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

Are necessities for any food-worker, so if you know this from day one, that will be a big help for a manager.

Check out our Food Handler training

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!

Check out our Allergen Awareness training

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.

Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge you have, the higher up in your business you will go.

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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:

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Every member of staff you lose costs $5,864 – It’s time to focus on employee engagement

Man drawing on a board discussing motivation

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.

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Employee turnover over 70% for the restaurant industry – why is this?

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.

For more information on gaining a Food Handler card, click on the link below.

Find out More
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Cooking Temperatures

The Danger zone when cooking food in a kitchen

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.

For more information on our Food Handler courses, click on the link below.

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Pest Control

Statistics on cockroach infestation in USA kitchens

Keep your customers safe!

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 – Stopping pests becoming a pest

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.

 

Help & Downloads:

As mentioned before, the main way to stop pests is to have a clean and tidy kitchen. So we have provided you with a few downloadable schedules which will allow you to rotate your staff onto certain cleaning duties, and track their progress.

If you need help with your food safety training, click on the link below.

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