How to handle a foodborne illness outbreak

lettuce

The E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce that occurred this spring proves how widespread and severe foodborne illnesses can be. FoodService Director talked with Michigan State University’s culinary team and the Office of the University Physician to learn how operators can effectively handle a foodborne illness outbreak. Read on for their advice. 

Photos courtesy of Pixabay

Reducing the effects

email updates

Q: Are there any preventive measures operators can take to help lessen the impact of foodborne illnesses?

A: Continuing to abide by safe food-handling practices is a key measure. Additionally, educating frontline staff on how to answer customer questions or refer them to the appropriate contact is important to keeping guests informed. Team members should also receive regular communications to ensure they are updated on the status of the outbreak and any developments that may occur as the procurement team monitors news from regulatory agencies.

Setting expectations

presentation

Q: Do you have any tips for working with food suppliers when an outbreak occurs?

A: Share your recall and withdraw procedures with suppliers so they’re aware of the protocol in advance. Discuss expectations of the respective parties as well to be proactive and prepared in the event of an outbreak.

 

Staying a step ahead

man at computer

Q: Are there any other best practices to keep in mind when dealing with a foodborne illness outbreak?

A: Establish a thorough recall and withdraw plan to share with all entities involved, including dining managers, administrative managers, communications staff, directors and suppliers. It’s also vital to keep your team updated throughout the process. We’ve established a valuable partnership with the university sanitarian, who is often our connection to state government, the health department and other key organizations as we monitor the situation for up-to-date status. Utilize your communications or public relations team as well to prepare talking points and statements for public-facing outlets and inquiries. Lastly, monitor Consumer Reports and news outlets to help gauge public opinion of the relevant actions taken by your organization to address the outbreak.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
roasted butternut tartine

In a bid to meet customers’ growing interest in plant-based dishes, foodservice vendor Aramark will soon roll out a number of new meatless dishes on the college campuses it serves.

Some of the new plant-centric items it’s taking to colleges this fall include the Greek-inspired Spanakopita Quesadilla, an open-faced sandwich topped with roasted butternut squash and the Sweet Potato Smash sandwich (sweet potato, cranberry sauce and goat cheese on ciabatta bread).

Nearly a third (30%) of the entrees Aramark serves up at colleges are either vegetarian or vegan, the...

Industry News & Opinion

$1.5 million will be used to increase farm-to-school programs in the state.

Sponsored Content
cheese and pretzels

From AFP advanced food products llc

Foodservice operators are tasked with doing more with less—and managing food inventory is no exception.

All foodservice operations want to keep inventory at minimum, and operators are reducing the ingredients needed in their kitchens through strategic and savvy menu building.

There are a few primary reasons for the reduction in ingredients: cost, quality and space. By buying larger quantities, an operator can get better per unit ingredient costs. And by functioning on a limited number of ingredients, the inventory is used faster...

Industry News & Opinion

Bakersfield City School District is expanding the number of schools participating in a program to donate leftover cafeteria food to local shelters, Bakersfield.com reports.

The program, called Waste Hunger, Not Food, began last April in partnership with the county health department. Due to its initial success, the program is expanding from one elementary school to six schools starting this school year.

Under the program, students place unopened milk cartons, whole fresh foods and unopened prepackaged food that they don’t want into three separate bins. The health department...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code