We get letters

Making mistakes and printing embarrassing situations.

I love receiving letters from readers, even when they point out an error or other embarrassing situation. I enjoy them because it tells me two things: that people are actually reading the publication, and that they value the magazine enough to call out our faults.

We recently received such a letter from Greg Henning, director of dining services at Landis Homes Retirement Community in Lititz, Pa. In response to a photo we ran on page 10 of our September issue, he wrote:

Over the years I have been annoyed by. . . pictures that depict foodservice team members violating sanitation rules, and the most glaring is always about glove usage. Your [photo] in the Sept. 15 issue [shows] a team member preparing ready-to-eat food using his bare hands. While I am aware of exemptions to the standard glove requirement if there is a stringent, documented handwashing policy, these are exceptionally rare. For training and best practices purposes I would hope that all food preparation pictures meet ServSafe and Food Code standards.

To Mr. Henning, I say thank you and mea culpa. This is not the first time we have been called to task for printing such a photo, and we are not alone. I have seen it happen at other magazines. Our only defense—and it is a weak one—is that sometimes we get so busy processing the pages for each issue that we miss items of this nature. We will strive to be more vigilant.

At the same time, however, I have to point out that we very rarely do our own photography. Most of what we print in the book comes from operators. In almost all cases, I would surmise, the person taking the photo either isn’t from the foodservice department—many institutions have photographers in their public relations departments—or is not really paying attention to such a small detail. (And by “small” I do not mean unimportant, only a small portion of the overall image.)

So, operators need to be as careful as we editors should be about photography. “A picture paints a thousand words” is not merely an oft-used phrase. If I am embarrassed to learn that I allowed the photo to be published, the operator should be even more so. Not only is an employee not following safe food handling procedures, but 45,000 or more of their industry colleagues are now made aware of it.

So I would ask readers to treat each piece of information you send to us like you would a business email or, even, a Facebook posting: don’t send anything out you wouldn’t want your local health inspector to see.

food safety

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