Can your beverage make you sick?

Have you ever noticed your bartender doing some unsafe practices when making your drink and thought, “It’s cool the alcohol will kill it!”.

You may be onto something when it comes to bacteria.  Certain amounts of alcohol can kill the bad stuff in our gut!  But wait, there is something you should know.

Although wine and spirits have long been used for their alcohol properties to kill bacteria on surfaces you would need to consume a high enough percentage of well over the average mixed drink of 10% alcohol to prevent bacteria from causing foodborne illness in your gut.  The most effective would be in the 80% range, which would be most spirits drank straight.  The bad news is the damage you would do to your gastrointestinal system could cause vomiting, diarrhea, and organ damage.  One study did find that drinking one glass a red wine a day can be good for your gut.  The specific properties of wine seem to be just right to keep the bad bacteria at bay while not destroying the good bacteria and not doing damage to your organs.

Looks like using alcohol to kill bacteria isn’t such a good idea. The news is no better when looking at the effect of alcohol on Norovirus.  Alcohol will not kill Norovirus.  That is right.  You heard it here.  Alcohol will not kill Norovirus.

In 2017, there was a total of 841 reported cases of illness from drinking beverages in a restaurant.  623 cases were from Norovirus.  Norovirus is a virus that only needs about 10-12 cells to make you sick. It grows in your gut, not on food.

Okay, I can hear you thinking, “841 cases that is it?   I will roll the dice!”.  The problem is that most illnesses do not get reported.  Think about it, do you report to the health department every time you get vomiting and diarrhea? NO! The actual number of cases is much higher.

So how can a beverage become contaminated with Norovirus or bacteria?  It can all go back to the bartender.

Bartenders handle money, touch surfaces other guest touch and, quite frankly, hardly ever wash their hands.

These surfaces can contain microscopic fecal matter from customers that do not wash hands after using the restroom.   That fecal matter can then be transferred to your drink!  YUCK!

Have you ever witnessed your bartender making any of these mistakes?

  • Picking up the glass from the rim and not side of cup, then you drink from the rim.
  • Placing things in the ice bin that are not ice, like opened beer, mixers, cups or hands.
  • Scooping the glass through the ice, this is a big risk of the glass or plastic cup chipping and causing physical harm.
  • Items falling in the ice bin. I once saw a customer toss a soiled napkin, missing the trash can it went into the ice bin, the bartender picked it out and went on their way to making a drink.
  • Handling garnishes like lemons, oranges, limes, melon and cucumbers with dirty hands. Tongs and muddler should be used!

Remember all this can spread those nasty feces and cause you to have vomiting and diarrhea.  So maybe it wasn’t the food you at the establishment after all…

Easter Time Egg Questions

Easter is almost here!  What a fun time coloring and decorating hard-boiled eggs with friends and family.

Easter Eggs

But have you ever wondered about how to safely handle your hard-boiled eggs? Below are some of the top questions I get asked during the ServSafe Manager Training.

How can eggs make you sick?

The pathogen of concern is Salmonella.  Salmonella (nontyphoidal) is the number 2 pathogen that causes foodborne illness in the US and the number 1 that causes hospitalization and death.  The CDC estimates over 1 million illnesses a year.  79,000 of those come from of Salmonella Enteritidis which comes directly from improperly handled eggs.  People that are infected will usually become ill 12-72 hours after consuming the bacteria.  Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps and vomiting.  People with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk.

How does Salmonella affect a regular shell egg?

The bacteria is carried in the fecal matter of the hen.  It can be introduced to the egg shell when the hen is laying the egg.  The bacteria can enter through the porous shell of the egg.  The Salmonella Enteritidis can also be introduced to the egg before the shell is formed in the intestinal track of the hen.

Why are raw eggs in some countries not refrigerated?

The production process is different in the US from European countries, because of this the USDA requires producers to wash and sanitize the egg before selling.  This creates an environment where air and bacteria can more easily pass through the shell. Therefore, temperature control is required.

Do hard-boiled eggs need to be refrigerated? 

The CDC, USDA, Egg Board and FDA consumer guidelines all agree after an egg is hard-boiled the surface even more porous.  The recommendation is that eggs be refrigerated at 40°F or below for no more than 7 days.  The only source of information that is different is the FDA food code for retail food establishments.  Raw shell eggs can be stored at 45°F or below.  Water cooled eggs must be stored at 41°F or below and as stated in Annex 3 Public Health Reason / Administrative guidelines 3-501.14, air cooled eggs are no longer a TCS food.

“Hard-boiled eggs with shell intact may be cooled in ambient air and are not considered to be a time/temperature control for safety food after cooling. Hard-boiled eggs may be cooled in drinking water but are considered to be a time/temperature control for safety food after cooling because pathogens, which may be present in the water, may pass through the egg shell during cooling”

Should you eat eggs that have been used for hiding?

Yes and No.  As long as the egg has not been left at room temperature for more than 2 hours and the egg is washed off before placing back in refrigeration you should be safe.  However, it would be safer to use other items like plastic reusable eggs for hiding.

Additional Resources:

https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/RetailFoodProtection/FoodCode/UCM595140.pdf

https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/eggstorage.html

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/egg-products-preparation/shell-eggs-from-farm-to-table/

Baltimore City sewage and the Chesapeake Bay watershed

Chesapeake Bay BridgeRaw sewage is flowing into our streams and rivers and eventually to the Chesapeake Bay.  Where is this sewage coming from?  A key source is an antiquated storm water and sewage system for Baltimore City.  In 2002 the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) sued Baltimore City and an original consent degree to correct overflow of raw sewage was filed.  There was a 2016 deadline for Baltimore City to correct existing problems.  Although some progress was made, the deadline passed and there were still sever deficiencies.  A modified decree was approved October 6, 2017 that extended the time allowed to correct problems.  It is broken down in two Phases.  First phase must be completed by 2021 and second phase by 2030.

During the first phase 83% of the sanitary sewage overflows are to be corrected.  Baltimore City takes in over 250 million gallons of water a day and sometimes the system can not handle the load.  The happens especially during wet conditions.  To make matters worse, built into the system are intentional overflow structures.  They are called Sanitary Sewage Overflow (SSO)Structures.  They are “vents” for the system.   When the system was developed in the early 1900’s it was considered state of the art.  However, in today’s standards it is substandard way of handling excessive amounts of storm and sewage water.

Many of these SSO structures have been eliminated.  However, there are still 12 currently identified in the latest report1 from the city.

Here are some staggering numbers.  In the 4th quarter of 2018 over 9.7 million gallons of water containing sewage entered the watershed from sanitary sewer overflows.  However, the numbers from the SSO structures are alarming.  Over 56 Million gallons of water containing raw sewage entered the watershed! This typically occurs during heavy rains.

Discharged water can contain harmful pathogens that can cause illness. When humans come in contact with contaminated water they should thoroughly wash the area with soap and water.  When purchasing shellfish, make sure they are coming from an approved source. Pathogens like Norovirus or Hepatitis A can be in shellfish we consume. You can contract these viruses regardless if the shellfish is cooked. Always ask your seafood retailer to see the shell stock tags.  They show the area the shellfish were taken from.  If they do not have a shell stock tag – DO NOT PURCHASE.  It is required by health department law that the tag be with the product until it is sold.

Chemical toxins are a concern as well.  During heavy rains ground water that contains pesticides and other chemicals enters the storm water system then that water could be released from SSO structures at streams and rivers.  Pharmaceuticals that are flushed in toilets have been found in water from SSO.

Chemical toxins can accumulate in older fish and especially in bottom feeders affecting the health of humans.  The mustard in crabs caught in certain waters should be avoided.  View the Maryland Fish Consumption Advisory report located here: https://mde.maryland.gov/programs/Marylander/fishandshellfish/Pages/fishconsumptionadvisory.aspx

Sewage and run off should concern everyone that enjoys the bay.  Whether it is for swimming, recreational or commercial fishing, or just enjoying the wonderful views and wildlife that it gives us.  Help support a healthy system by not flushing anything that could clog the pipes like feminine products or “flushable” wipes.  Do not put anything down as drain that could harm the system, including fats oils and grease (FOG), pharmaceuticals, old paint, chemicals or anything that you would not want in the bay.

https://publicworks.baltimorecity.gov/sites/default/files/MCD%20Quarterly%20Report%2005.pdf

Retail: Is your food safety management system healthy?

Food Safety Management System

Food safety management system

When a facility has a functioning Food Safety Management System (FSMS), team members perform better, and customers will receive a consistent message when visiting.

In Maryland a HACCP plan is required for every moderate and high priority facility when they start up.  Often, they become forgotten until a health inspector asks to review it.  A HACCP plan should not be looked at as “just another requirement”.  A well written HACCP plan should be part of your overall food safety management system and should be part of your day to day operations.  However,  HACCP is only the beginning of your full Food Safety Management System.

What is a FSMS?

The short answer is;  Team members understanding,  consistently following and documenting the processes and procedures you have in place to minimize the risk of contamination of food.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at what your system would look like.

Commitment

The first step in creating your Food Safety Management System is to have a commitment to food safety.   No matter what your brands message is your team needs to understand that without food safety you cannot provide a consistent message to your customers.  This starts from the top down.  When team members think the “bottom line” and sales is all you care about food safety will not be a priority.  Unfortunately, the two go hand in hand.

SOP’s

Next establish your Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s).  This would include; your purchasing program that ensures your food is from a safe source, personal hygiene program, employee illness, cleaning and sanitizing program, how your facility avoids cross contamination, and establishing time and temperature controls to avoid bacterial growth.  The person writing the SOP’s need to have a good understanding of food safety and the current practices and procedures of the facility.  This is the core of preventing contamination to food.

Hazard Analysis

After your SOP’s are established you must look at every menu item and determine where a biological hazard could occur.  These are called critical control points.  In a Maryland retail food facility this would be steps in the process like cooking, cooling, reheating and hot holding.   Again, the person doing the hazard analysis must have a good understanding of food safety risks.  There are special considerations when the facility does certain practices like; using time as a public health control, cooks using sous vide, does any reduced oxygen packaging, uses additives or preservatives, cures food like bacon, displays seafood, squeezes juice or offers live shellfish in a display like a lobster tank.

Food Process Charts

Using data from the Hazard Analysis, create the food process charts.  The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene offers four methods of creating charts.  I prefer to use method #2.  I feel that it is the easiest for food handlers to understand and follow along.   For every CCP identified in the Hazard Analysis you must list the critical limit, how monitoring will take place, what corrective action you should take if there is a deviation in the critical limit and how will you verify the monitoring took place.

Training

Congratulations!  You now have a HACCP plan.  Now we need to make sure that team members are on the same page.  That is where training come in.   Training should be job specific and ongoing.  Divide your facility into stations, for instance, prep, expo, servers, warewashing, etc.   Review your SOP’s and make sure you include all necessary points in the training.    Remember, everyone in your facility should be trained in personal hygiene and employee illness.  Training can be computer based, group, one on one or a combination.  I believe the best training starts with computer-based or group training and then one on one with a qualified team member providing the training.  During training, be sure to correct the team member when doing something incorrectly. This can be done gently and politely but now is not the time to worry about hurt feelings.

Monitoring and Verification

Our system would not be complete without making sure that it is working.  We do this through monitoring the critical limits established in the food charts and monitoring team members to ensure that all SOP’s are being followed as well.  Monitoring is an action, for instance, it could be a visual observation or actually taking a temperature reading of cooked food.   Verification occurs when monitoring is documented through charts and logs.  The team member performing the task documents the result.  Managers must review these logs and documents to ensure the system is working the way it should.

For instance, if a team member had to cook the chicken longer than the procedure states they would document this as a corrective action.  Managers then review the corrective action documents and can then investigate why the corrective action had to be taken.  Perhaps, they deep fryer is not working correctly, or the team member placed too much chicken at one time in the basket.  Management can make corrections by either repairing equipment or retraining the team member.

Revise

When you make menu, equipment or structural changes the entire system needs to be reevaluated.  Maryland requires your HACCP be revised every 5 years or when significant changes have taken place.

You think the last place you ate made you sick? Here is what to do.

Social media can be an excellent source to share information.  But when bad information is shared it can unfairly harm a business’s reputation.

I often see posts where someone claims that they became sick or got food poisoning from a restaurant.   The problem is most often you did not get sick from the last thing you ate.  It just may have been your bodies “tipping point” of when the vomiting and or diarrhea starts.

Take a look at this chart, it lists the top 6 pathogens as identified by the CDC1.  I have included estimated number of cases, transmission, incubation period, duration and symptoms.  Although this is just a quick overview of these pathogens it will help you see that each pathogen is different from each other.  Remember there are approximately 40 pathogens that can cause illness in humans.

 

Pathogen Mean estimated number of cases each year. How do humans typically get sick. Onset or incubation period before symptoms appear Duration of your illness Symptoms
Norovirus 20 million Ready to eat foods or by drinking contaminated beverages.  Touching a surface and putting your hand in your mouth could also be a source.  Only a few cells are necessary to cause illness. 12-48 hours 1-3 days Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pains.  Sometimes fever and body aches
Campylobacter 1.3 million Most illnesses likely occur due to eating raw or undercooked poultry, or to eating something that touched it. Some are due to contaminated water, contact with animals, or drinking raw (unpasteurized) milk.

Only a small number of cells is needed to cause illness.  A single drop of poultry juice can contain enough cells!

2-5 days 1 week Diarrhea (often bloody), fever, cramping, nausea, vomiting
Salmonella 1.2 million Can be found in many foods, including sprouts and other vegetables, eggs, chicken, pork, fruits, and even processed foods, such as nut butters, frozen pot pies, chicken nuggets, and stuffed chicken entrees. 12-72 hours 4-7 days Diarrhea, fever, cramps
Clostridium Perfringens 1 million Beef, poultry, gravies, and dried or pre-cooked foods.  Especially those left out for too long during cooling. 6-24 hours 24 hours Diarrhea, cramping, usually there is no fever or vomiting
Shigella 500,000 Found in human feces, so any contact with feces from a person that had shigella can become contaminated very easily, even weeks after they are better.  This transmission could happen when changing a sick baby’s diaper, during sex or eating foods that person touched without proper hand-washing.   It only takes a small number of cells to cause illness. 1-2 days 5-7 days Diarrhea, fever, stomach cramping
Staphylococcus Aureus (Staph) 300,000 Ready to eat foods that require refrigeration that have been handled by someone that is a carrier of Staph.  25% of healthy adults are carriers in their nose or infected cuts.  Contaminated food is left at unsafe temperatures for too long.  Cooking will typically kill the bacteria but sometimes a toxin is formed and those cannot be destroyed. 30 minutes – 6 hours 1 day Nausea, vomiting, cramps, most have diarrhea but not always.

As you look at the data, you see that the only pathogen that causes illness right after eating is Staph.  There are 300,000 estimated cases a year.  That is still a large number of people getting sick from improper handling of food, but statistically you are more likely to be ill from another pathogen.

What does this mean?

Do NOT immediately blame the last place you ate and publicly shame them.   I am in no way dismissing your illness and how bad you felt.  But making false accusations can be very harmful to someone already in a grueling business.

What should you do?

First and foremost, take care of yourself.  If you experience symptoms of foodborne illness, such as diarrhea or vomiting, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

Then report the illness, doing so helps alert the health department of a possible outbreak.

They will likely do an investigation including asking you what your exact symptoms are and what foods you ate in at least the last 7 days.  They may also ask you go to the doctors to be tested.  A doctor is the only sure way that your illness can be diagnosed.

If you don’t feel it is necessary to make a report here is the recommendations from the CDC2 of when you should seek medical attention:

  • High fever (temperature over 101.5°F, measured orally)
  • Blood in stools
  • Frequent vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including a marked decrease in urination, a very dry mouth and throat, or feeling dizzy when standing up.
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days

But remember, unless you have the illness diagnosed, understand the incubation period, think of what you ate that is typically associated with that illness during that time period and make a report, please do not blame a restaurant for your illness.  Remember, the illness could have come from your own home.  Be informed. Be smart.

 

  1. gov/foodborneburden/pdfs/scallan-estimated-illnesses-foodborne-pathogens.pdf
  2. gov/foodsafety/symptoms.html

Time as a control for food safety.

Do you use time as a control?

Are you wondering what that means?

Here are some examples of when my clients have successfully used time as a control on TCS foods;

  • Breading mixes that are in almost constant use. You may be breading items like fish or chicken every 15-30 minutes and refrigerating the breading isn’t practical.
  • Catering or displays of food.
  • A cold holding station does not maintain 41°F or below during peak times.
  • Cooked pizza displayed and being sold by the slice but 135°F is not being maintained.

These are just a few times when you may need to use time rather than temperature to control the safety of your food. Remember from the food safety training class you learned that food left in the temperature danger zone (41°F – 135°F) for more than 4 hours is discarded. This is because bacteria can grow to levels that can make the customer sick after this time period.

So, using this principle we can use time as a control, rather than temperature. This is sometimes called “time as a public health control”.

The following information is for Maryland retail food facilities, remember that your county/city may have different regulations and you should always follow those rules.  The basic rules that you will need to follow are:

  • You must obtain written permission from the local health department. This means it MUST be in your HACCP plan as a critical control point for that food product.
  • You must have verification procedures in place. Either have a log or time stamp the product container with the time it was removed from temperature control and the time it must be discarded.
  • There needs to be procedures in place to make sure the food is discarded at or before the 4 hours.

As you can see there may be valid times when using time as a control could be very beneficial.

If you have any specific questions about this topic or any other questions about food safety, please contact our office at 410-687-1015 and we will be happy to help.

The code this is based on is listed in COMAR 10.15.03.08 Use of time-only with potentially hazardous foods. The above information is advisory in nature only.

Washing your chicken is dangerous

Did you know that there is no federal regulation that for zero tolerance of Salmonella and Campylobacter on the chicken you purchase?Raw Chicken

That is right, your chicken could and probably is swimming in potentially harmful bacteria.  There is an initiative to reduce the amounts that are present but feds are not considering a zero tolerance policy at this time.

So how can you prevent these bacteria from wreaking havoc on your customers or family? 

Avoid cross contamination

  • Do not wash your chicken in a sink.  There is no need to wash chicken. You only increase the chance of spreading these pathogens all over your kitchen especially if you use a spray hose.
  • If you must rinse chicken place in bowl, filled with water, gently place chicken in bowl. Agitate and drain off water.

Wash your hands

  • Hand-washing after handling raw chicken with warm or hot water, plenty of soap and vigorous scrubbing will reduce the risk that you transfer pathogens to other surfaces in your kitchen.

Clean and sanitize

  • Using a good detergent wash areas that the chicken has touched.
  • Rinse with clean water and then sanitize using an effective solution.

Avoid Temperature abuse

  • Cook chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F and you will destroy those harmful bacteria. Don’t forget to promptly refrigerate foods after cooking to avoid other pathogens from causing problems.

Food Safety Tip: Thawing TCS (aka Potentially Hazardous Food)

There are 4 common methods of thawing food.  You can place in the refrigerator, in the microwave but you must cook the food immediately after, and as part of the cooking process, or under running water

 

When you are thawing foods under running water you need to follow these simple rules to protect the food from time and temperature abuse;
1. Submerse the product in a pan or bowl. Do not ever place directly in a sink.
2. Have water running over product that has enough flow to constantly change the water in the bowl and agitate loose particles off the food.
3. Water should NEVER exceed 70°F.
4. Do not attempt to thaw items that will take a long time like a whole chicken. Anytime food is 41°F* or above for more than 4 hours it needs to be discarded. For instance, if the surface of the chicken is above and the inside is still frozen you would need to discard.

*Note, when thawing ROP food the temperature must remain under 38°F.

 

 

 

 

When thawing fish that are stamped with “Keep Frozen – Remove from packaging then thaw under refrigeration” there is a risk of clostridium botulinum, a very serious and potentially deadly bacteria. It is important that proper thawing take place. FDA Food Code 3-501.13(E) states that: REDUCED OXYGEN PACKAGED FISH that bears a label
indicating that it is to be kept frozen until time of use shall be
removed from the reduced oxygen environment:
(1) Prior to its thawing under refrigeration as specified in
(A) of this section; or
(2) Prior to, or Immediately upon completion of, its thawing
using procedures specified in (B) [discussed above] of this section.

The best method to use would be remove the product from packaging when frozen and place in the refrigeration.  Alternatively, you can thaw under running water as discussed above but the product must be removed from the package the moment it is thawed.

 

FDA Code 3-501.13(A-E)

COMAR 10.15.03.09 D (1-6)

 

Food Safety Tip Tuesday: Cold Holding in a refrigerator

Cold holding is an integral part of food safety. 

Holding food at incorrect temperatures is one on the top 5 reasons there was an outbreak in this county.

 

Monitoring

Depending on your jurisdiction you may not be required to log the temperature more than once or twice a day and often there are no requirements for logging.  I recommend that you check and log refrigeration equipment temperatures every 2 hours to ensure time to take a corrective action.   The inside thermometer is sufficient for logging however, you need to ensure the thermometer is accurate.  I recommend checking the internal temperature of a sampling of food at least once a week and comparing with the internal thermometer.  You should also do internal sampling anytime a thermometer is dropped to ensure proper calibration.

Verification through logging

Have staff record the internal temperature of all equipment in a daily log book and a shift manager should review recordings for possible problems. In my experience, as a third-party inspector, I often see log books that are completed with temperatures outside the critical limit with no action being taken.  This has cost business big money when all TCS foods must be discarded.

Corrective action

If you find that food is stored above 41° F and the time is less than 4 hours and verifiable, you can move the food to a freezer or walk-in for quick chilling.  You must check the temperature before the end of 4 hours to ensure the food has been returned to 41°F or below.  If it is still above 41°F you must discard.

Training

Staff should be properly trained on how to take internal food temperatures and the proper location the hanging thermometer should be placed in the unit.   Hanging thermometers should be placed in the warmest part of the unit, which is usually just below mid-point on the and toward the front where the door opens.  When taking internal temperatures use a thermometer that has been calibrated.  Do not touch pan sides or bottom.

FDA food code 3-501.16(A)(2) and COMAR 10.15.03.06 b(7) states that cold food be held at 41°F or below.

In Maryland, you must store pasteurized crab meat at 38°F or below. 

Always check with your local jurisdiction as recommendations / requirements may be different.

Is your facility allergy friendly?

Do you have an allergen program?

Do you “just know” what products you sell contain an allergen?

Without looking, what are the allergens in Hot Dogs, Crackers or Potato chips?

Now go look. Were you right?  Did you possibly miss allergens like milk in many hot dogs and crackers, soy in all three or peanut oil in some potato chips?

Here are some facts about allergies*:

  • It is estimated 9 million, or 4% of adults have food allergies,
  • 6 million, or 8% of children have food allergies.
  • Allergies increased 50% in children between the years of 1997 to 2011, with no explanation as to why.
  • Every 3 minutes someone is admitted to a hospital due to food allergies.

What causes the allergic reaction?

It is a bodies negative reaction to proteins in the food. Proteins are not destroyed during the cooking process and can remain on cooking equipment, deep fry oils, batter, breading and utensils.  It only takes a very small about of the protein to cause a reaction.

What are the major food allergens?

Although there are hundreds of foods that can cause a reaction in humans the FDA has determined that 8 foods account for 90% of the negative reactions.  These foods must be clearly identified on the labels of packaged foods.

  •                 Wheat
  •                 Milk
  •                 Dairy
  •                 Soy
  •                 Fish
  •                 Crustacean shellfish
  •                 Peanuts
  •                 Tree Nuts

What can you do to prevent your customer from having a negative reaction to food from your facility?

 Be proactive. Have a plan in place!  Sounds simple right?  Not so fast.  When I ask students what is your plan where you work.  Many respond by saying “they tell the chef” or “it is marked on the ticket the person has an allergy”.

That is not a plan!  A plan needs to look at every aspect of your facility from design to service.  If a food can not be assured safe then it should not be offered to a guest with an allergy.

Let’s talk about a better method of controlling the risk of allergens.

  • Designate a lead Allergen Manager (LAM).
  • The LAM should inspect all food that arrives at your facility checking labels for allergens.
  • Create a spreadsheet to assist LAM and chef in exploring all foods that enter facility that are commercially prepared. List the 8 allergens across the top and all ingredients that come in to the facility on the left.  Mark an “I” for ingredient in the corresponding box associated with the allergen listed on ingredient list.
  • Create a similar spreadsheet for each menu item.  LAM and Chef should work through entire menu identifying which dishes directly contain an allergen and which ones could be affected by cross contact.  Don’t forget about those sub-ingredients!
  • LAM and Chef should have a good working relationship and be in constant communication when practices or menu items change.
  • LAM needs to share this information with an AM (Allergy Manager) for each shift.
  • Shift AM should hold training sessions with all food handlers discussing proper techniques for avoiding cross contamination from receipt of food to service.  Also discuss proper cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces before starting to prepare a dish for a guest with an allergen and of course proper handwashing.
  • Shift AM should train wait staff that when a guest requests a substitution they should ask if it is for a personal taste preference, dietary restriction or an allergen.  If it is for an allergen staff should immediately call for the AM on duty to assist guest with the order.
  • Place a message on table placard or menu reminding guests “If a member of your party has a food allergy please let your server know.”

In Maryland it is required that you have a poster reminding staff of the 8 allergens.  This poster can be found at http://www.marylandfoodhandler.com/foodSafetyDownloads.php

For further assistance with developing a food allergy program in your facility please contact Sue Farace, CP-FS at 410-382-4325

 

Source: FARE foodallergy.org