” Is there anything you are going to need next year to make sure all the food served continues to be safe?”
My answer had to do with 2 areas I wanted addressed as part of an overall plan to improve our food safety and quality assurance across the network of operations. Now back in those days, one of the most common causes of food-borne illnesses, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), was improper cooling of leftover foods. In other words, batches of food were not being cooled fast enough through the danger zone (135F-41F) where bacteria can grow.
With improper cooling as the culprit, I successfully obtained approval to purchase blast chillers in several large operations. Months later, our team lobbied and gained the green light to include these chillers in all future cafes designs. I remember feeling very fortunate to work for a company that supported our efforts in ensuring we met and exceeded standards for food safety.
Now, the second item I asked for was not capital equipment related at all. You see, I wanted a way of really knowing how well the operations were doing with food safety. So, I secured funding to have random samplings taken by an independent food safety consultant. These samples, taken during unannounced audits, measured total coliform and total plate count bacteria.
This gave us a way of measuring progress as with each passing month our culinary teams were able to achieve lower bacteria counts. I recall some friendly competitions going on and some kitchen staff joking, “hey my total coliform was lower than yours this month”. We actually did acknowledge the best in class kitchens with rewards, gift certificates, and other forms of recognition for a job well done.
I share this particular BLOG topic because I know the challenge many of you are faced with. Perhaps today more than ever, food service budgets are being squeezed. I urge you to find ways to deliver the right message to your senior management. That is food service brings huge benefits back to the client organization and we can’t be short sighted when it comes to food safety.
Good luck and if I could be of assistance do not hesitate to contact me.
Anthony Morro, MBA, FMP
Certified Servsafe Trainer/Exam Proctor