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SafeFood© No Time

Remember the classic Guess Who song – No time? That song struck a chord while I helped with a charity dinner recently. While I know a thing or two about safe food handling practices and usually ‘do the right thing’, doing the right thing when there are a zillion other items needing your attention, is a bit more of a challenge.

It is easy to see why there are so many food borne illnesses due to poor personal hygiene and improper food handling. What is the answer?

A logical response is to plan – make sure people know what they are doing and can focus on one thing at a time. This will work for routine daily operations.

Is the answer to have more people working? With volunteer situations, this really depends – how willing are the volunteers to wash their hands properly or not sample the products? Do the volunteers know how to clean or use a thermometer properly? For routine operations, more labor means more money spent for employees – and with the competitive market, mandated hourly wages, and low profit margins – this can make or break a business.
That said, it is a rare business that recovers from a headline about people getting sick from their restaurant so having enough folks on hand to work safely is preventative medicine.

The design of the kitchen could make a difference – having to navigate across the kitchen (dodging hot pans and sharp knives) to wash hands does not make it a user-friendly activity. Available sinks (with soap and disposable towels) for hand washing strategically located could make a difference.

Time for food safety has to be routine. You work time in your busy schedule to brush teeth and other routine hygiene practices (at least your co-workers hope you do)! It must be done for safe food handling - we can’t risk No Time for SafeFood© -

Submitted Catherine Strohbehn, PhD, RD, CP-FS May 7, 2009