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SafeFood© Linens & Other Things

Last time, I talked about appearances of those working in food operations. Today I want to add to the conversation and note a few observations from the customer perspective. These deal with linens used in retail foodservices – aprons and cleaning cloths.

One thing that really bugs me is when I see food workers (and I have seen this at all types of food operations) use the restroom without taking off their work aprons! Just the other day, when entering the restroom of a large, national grocery chain, I saw a sign posted on the door that reminded all employees to remove their work aprons or smocks before entering the restroom. (There were hooks conveniently located). I had a warm, fuzzy feeling and thought – this place is doing things right. But then, the bubble burst as a staff member followed me into the restroom with her smock on, and she kept it on!

Another thing you have seen sometime or somewhere – an employee wiping tables after guests have finished their meals. At a food court of a large mall the other day, I noticed someone wiping down the tables using a spray bottle and a cloth towel. What I didn’t see was any rinsing of the towel in between the many tables. So, what is the big deal? Food is on trays or wrapped in paper – we aren’t eating off the table. That is true, we don’t eat off the tables directly, but do our hands touch the table, and then our food? Does the plastic fork touch the table, and then our food? Does a loose French fry get scattered to the table? Etc., etc., etc. This is called cross contamination and it is a leading cause of foodborne illness. The same thing happens with the aprons in the restrooms, or packages of food containers on food preparation surfaces, or gloves touching money and then your food.
Something to think about? Help cross out cross contamination.
Submitted by Catherine Strohbhen, PhD., RD, CFSP January 10, 2008