Rethinking food safety with new approaches

By 
Dana Moran, Managing Editor

hand washing

A food safety gaffe the magnitude of Chipotle’s may get the attention of the world. But ensuring day-to-day compliance by employees is what haunts operators’ waking hours.

In recent months, operators have had to stave off more fears than just E. coli. Mumps, flu and hand-foot-and-mouth disease have reared their germy heads in foodservice.
Here are two ways operators are tackling some mundane yet decidedly important food safety hot buttons.

Making hand-washing automatic

To ensure staffers are meeting CEO Chris LaRocca’s standard of washing their hands once per hour at locations of Crushed Red Urban Bake & Chop Shop, he installed hand-washing monitoring units next to every hand sink. “When you put your hand under the soap dispenser, it will emit soap, and beep,” LaRocca says.

The ethernet-powered units use voice recognition to identify employees when they recite their names and three-digit codes. “It takes about four seconds to record me, and it will display my name on the LED screen and log me into our back office computer as having washed my hands,” says LaRocca. He follows up with workers who don’t meet the quota. “It’s about a $7,500 investment upfront for the equipment. I consider it an insurance policy.” 

The magic glove approach

With restaurants having beat back glove requirements in California, New York City and other places, one operator is going Michael Jackson with her approach to kitchen gloves. Lisa Lantry—corporate executive chef at Immanuel long-term care communities in Nebraska—teaches her staff the one glove method.

New employees are trained to wear a clean glove on their nondominant hand, leaving the dominant one free for tasks such as grabbing a pen or other nonfood items. By learning this from the beginning, employees get in the habit of reserving their gloved hand only for handling food. Lantry says her community has had zero deficiencies since adopting the method.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

FSD Resources