Monday, November 1, 2010

Food Safety and My Three Biggest Pet Peeves!

At BHTS, we pride ourselves that our students become our children or our families and as proud parents we only want them to succeed. Many times, our students want to show  us their lovely kitchens and we observe three major mistakes that just break our hearts, all falling under “cross contamination.” My personal three biggest pet peeves are:

  • 1) Servers grabbing glasses by the rim.
  • 2) Kitchen employees eating while prepping foods.
  • 3) Improper food storage in the refrigeration units.
Cross Contamination is defined as: “the transfer of microorganisms from one food or surface to another.”

The biggest error I see in any restaurant as a customer and as an instructor is: employees grabbing glasses by the rim. This is my biggest personal pet peeve, although, I look
back on the past and yes, I did this myself. As a bartender, I would grab glasses by the rim to make the drinks. I should have been more aware to always grab the glasses at all times by the base or rim.

The second biggest error I see is prep cooks eating while prepping foods. Please remember we, at BHTS are not the “police officers” and we are here to help. Imagine the proud owner or executive chef giving us a tour of their beautiful kitchen and there are the prep cooks working diligently to prep the vegetables and … eating at the same time?!?  I am sure if we were to ask this prep cook that they might not even be aware that they just plopped something in their mouth. They probably just did it without even thinking about it! It’s an indirect way of spitting into someone’s food as the saliva from the prep cook’s mouth gets on their hand as they plop the food in their mouth and then keep working … thus contaminating everything they touch. I don’t think the prep cooks do this   consciously and as a boss you have to remind them with proper training and supervision.

The third biggest mistake I see is: Incorrect Food Storage in refrigeration units. I see so many restaurants that will place fresh hamburger on the second shelves and that   hamburger juice can drip down onto a ready-to-eat food below. The FDA has determined the correct order of food storage is based upon their danger. I interpret the food’s danger as defined by their required minimum internal cooking temperature. Store food in your refrigeration units based upon their dangers/minimum internal cooking temps in the following order from top to bottom: ready-to-eat-foods (0°F), seafood, whole cuts of beef, pork (145°F), ground meats, ground fish (155°F), and whole or ground poultry (165°F).

Why would you place poultry above hamburgers? The chicken juice that could fall down onto the hamburger below will only be cooked to 155°F and you have to cook that chicken juice to at least a minimum cooking temperature of 165°F.

I hope my three biggest pet peeves help you to look at your own restaurant from a different perspective. Sometimes, we get so engrossed in our work, that we become blind to the obvious. I recommend that you step back and really look at your establishment with a different perspective as if you were a health inspector or even a customer. You will be amazed at what you will see and can improve!

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