February 21, 2014

Don’t Sit Me By the Kitchen

When our family goes out to eat, they all know too well, I should not be seated where I have a view of what’s happening in the kitchen. If this does occur, they know I will pay close attention to the food safety behaviors of kitchen staff. Depending on what I see, I will probably mention the concern to a manager. Several years ago, when eating out with friends at a small local restaurant, I had a clear view of food preparation for our meal. On this occasion, the cross contamination behaviors of the cooks seemed to have no end. From handling ready-to-eat food, then touching equipment, aprons, or in and out of refrigerators without changing gloves or washing hands. Then there was the person who took a “smoke break” with equally concerning behaviors once this staff member returned from break. I did not address the issue at the time. However, as soon as I returned to the office, I called the restaurant and spoke to the person in charge. I shared my concerns, suggesting perhaps the staff was just having a bad day, and advised some retraining on safe food handling was needed. In addition, I also called our local health department and shared my concerns. Not too long ago, my husband and I were enjoying a visit to the big city and having the hotel’s lovely continental breakfast. One of the staff was in the kitchen getting the lobby’s ever popular flavored ice water dispenser ready for the day. Being careful not to spill the ice on the floor, each scoop of ice was carefully cradled by the employee’s bare hand. On the way out of the hotel for a day of site seeing, I shared this observation and concern with the front desk staff, who took my concern to heart. Clearly, on-going training of foodservice staff is essential, regardless of the size or scope of the operation. As food safety professionals it is our responsibility to share our knowledge and alert the appropriate person or agency when we see a concern. Diane

Posted by Cathy Strohbehn at 03:37 PM