SafeFood© Specifics

Had the opportunity to be video taped for a web segment on staying healthy by avoiding foodborne illness. While was able to stress the importance of following the 4 basic steps advised by FightBac® of Chill, Separate, Clean and Cook – didn’t really have time to give many nitty gritty details on what that means. SafeFood© requires paying attention – keeping your head in the game, so to speak. Bear with me as I elaborate…

Chill is keeping cold foods cold. Using the refrigerator to thaw frozen meats is better than placing these items in the sink or on the counter to thaw during the work day.

Separate raw from cooked or ready to eat foods – in the refrigerator and during preparation. Think about establishing fresh produce work stations in your homes – that is what many restaurants and culinary schools do. This helps avoid risk of cross contamination. Also separate clean surfaces from soiled surfaces.

Clean means different things to different people – as a mom, I have had conversations with my youngsters as to its definition. In terms of food safety, it means surfaces are free of any visible soil; the next step is sanitary which means no disease causing microorganisms are present. Those nasty microbes can’t be seen – so how we clean things is important. You can’t go wrong with hot soapy water and a good rinse. But make sure you are cleaning surfaces with clean tools – sponges and dish cloths are can get gunked up pretty quickly.

Cooking is a way to be sure that we have killed off enough microorganisms that are naturally present in the food. It is hard to touch or see this is done – use a thermometer and check the temperatures. (See previous blog about the SafeFood© Grilling.)

Catherine

Catherine

Catherine Hemphill Strohbehn has been a faculty member at Iowa State University in the Hospitality Management Program for 30 years. She is a State Specialist with Human Sciences Extension and Outreach at Iowa State University. As part of her work, she conducts research, develops educational materials and provides programs to help retail foodservices use their resources effectively and ensure safe food is served. Cathy is a registered dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Certified Professional in Food Safety from the National Environmental Health Association.

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SafeFood© Awareness

I recently attended a conference about food safety education. Educators, researchers, government agency representatives, and consultants with interest in the topic gathered to share new information and learn from each other. Talk about preaching to the choir! These people get it.

It is ironic when groups of these conference attendees eat out and see how sometimes the message isn’t getting to the right people – usually those working front lines in retail foodservices. Managers and other administrators get it; but often time pressures or the hectic nature don’t allow those working in the trenches to practice (assuming they know the right thing to do). So what is the answer?

I propose the “work smarter not harder” approach. In one of our observational studies, we saw that restaurant workers should wash their hands about 28 times per hour (based on what Food Code dictates as handwashing occasions). Food Code requires a 20-second handwash period – so do the math (28 x 20 seconds is 560 seconds in a 3600 hour – which is 15% or about 10 minutes in each hour). That is a lot of time spent away from production.

Line workers can adopt the chef’s approach of mise en place – which is all about planning and organization. Think about tasks to do when hands are dirty – just cleared a table, then take direct to the dish room or bus station, take out trash, handle money etc. If hands are clean, then stay with the task and get someone else to open the refrigerator door or restock new ingredients that are needed. Think separation – between clean and dirty; raw and cooked. Work smarter, not harder!

Catherine

Catherine

Catherine Hemphill Strohbehn has been a faculty member at Iowa State University in the Hospitality Management Program for 30 years. She is a State Specialist with Human Sciences Extension and Outreach at Iowa State University. As part of her work, she conducts research, develops educational materials and provides programs to help retail foodservices use their resources effectively and ensure safe food is served. Cathy is a registered dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Certified Professional in Food Safety from the National Environmental Health Association.

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