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.

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