Food Safely

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Utility Blades -Band-Aids and Blade Disposal Haunts Some Employers

en: Photo of a Band-Aid manufactured by Johnso...
en: Photo of a Band-Aid manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ever wonder why you need to buy so many band aids for your first aid kit?
Have you ever had an employee cut themselves while taking out the trash? 

Know where I am going with this?

Don’t make used utility blade disposal unnecessarily risky and difficult to dispose.

Put your thinking cap on when purchasing your warehousing materials  or your used blades will come back to haunt you.
100 Utility Blade Dispenser | Another Source
OSHA Blade DisposalTake the extra effort to find and buy utility blade dispensers which also include a disposal in the same unit.

1) Your employees will benefit and

2) you will be doing what common sense, business bottom line and OSHA requires of an employer.  Yes,  providing a safe working environment.

Don’t delay or you may be the one taking out the trash someday.
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Test Your Food Safety Knowledge

Most meats such as chicken contain all the ess...

Most meats such as chicken contain all the essential amino acids needed for humans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

See how you do:

Q: Employees with a cold can continue to work. True or false?

A: True, but this is a trick question. The health department distinguishes between "exclusion" and "restriction."

A person with a serious illness, such as norovirus, is excluded from working. A person with a cold is restricted from working with exposed food, clean equipment, utensils and linens.

Q: Every open item must be date marked for disposal within how many days? Hint: God made the world in the same number of days. Also, the late Mrs. Geraldine Idzerda had the same number of children.

A: Seven—even if it's not growing anything.

Q: How do you prepare a melon?

A: Pre-cool melons to prevent bacteria growth. Wash and sterilize the washing and cutting area. Wash the melon in cold water and scrub with vegetable brush.

Sanitize the melon for two minutes in a bleach solution. Wash hands, place melon on sanitized cutting board and cut with a sanitized knife.

Then, get out of the restaurant business.

Q: You have seafood, eggs, prepared foods, steak, ground beef, raw pork and raw chicken. Your refrigerator has seven shelves. In what order, from top to bottom, should the food go?

A: In this order, top to bottom: prepared food, eggs, seafood, steak, hamburger, pork and chicken. Prepared food goes on top because you don't want the raw food dripping on it.

As for the rest of the food, its placement is based on its properly cooked temperature. Raw poultry needs to be cooked to 165 degrees, the highest of all of the foods, so it is at the bottom. If the seafood—145 degrees—drips on the chicken, cooking will eliminate any illnesses.

Q: It's OK to let thawing meat drip on to salad fixings. True or false?

A: False. Duh.

Q: The "Lookout for undercooked eggs" warning needs to be in how many places on a menu?

A: One. Make mine over easy, please.

Q: A customer wants a cracker with peanut butter. As long as you put on gloves, you can handle the cracker to apply the peanut butter. True or false?

A: False. Wash your hands first. Your dirty hands can make the gloves dirty. And why can't the customer spread his own peanut butter? This isn't the Ritz.

Q: It's OK to put the cleaning products on a shelf above the English major mixing the cole slaw in the industrial-sized slaw-making bin. True or false?

A: False. Toxic cleaning products need to be labeled and stored in a separate area from food.

Q: How many sinks does it take to hand wash dishes?

A: Three: Wash, rinse, sanitize, change major.

Q: Food will be fine as long as it's put directly into the fridge. True or false?

A: Food must go from 135 to 41 degrees in six hours. If you have a giant pot of soup or a recently cooked bear, it needs to be divided into smaller portions.

Q: Chicken bits on sticks can be left out for two hours. True or false?

A: True, but it's a trick question. In certain situations, a restaurant can apply for a variance for the temperature rules. For example, a buffet that leaves food out over a lunch hour might not be able to keep chicken at 135 degrees or above. The variance requires significantly more record keeping for the restaurant staff and is not granted very often.

Q: A pitcher of cream left on a table at room temperature for an unspecified period of time is not something you'd want to drink. True or false?

A: True. Hot food should be kept hot at 135 degrees or above. Cold food should be kept at 41 degrees or below.

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HACCP Compliance Wisdom : Scrombroid Species

3d molecular spacefill of Histamine

3d molecular spacefill of Histamine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once histamine has been allowed to form in a Scrombroid species of seafood, like tuna, having been exposed to over 40? F temperatures for over several hours (there is a cumulative effect) you won’t be able to cook or freeze it out.  You will have no other choice but to document your disposal of the contaminated seafood or risk customer disease, FDA’s form of corrective action, and lawsuits.   

21 CFR 123 is the guideline provided by the Government for you to study. Having mastered the step you can create your own HACCP plan (food safety culture).  Your HACCP plan, once implemented is your way to prove to FDA that you are controlling material, chemical and biological food hazards for the products you receive and  about FDA inspections, create a HACCP compliant, food safety culture which rewards your client’s trust with continued well being and you with a continuing, expanding base of happy customers.  Easily said but playing games with HACCP can be stressful when food distributors get warnings like this one below, after their FDA inspection.  Your compliance with 21 CFR 123 is the law. 

Example  warning letter.

[ Click Here ]

FoodSafely Says:David Chilgman Belfort1

You did not implement your monitoring procedure at the receiving CCP in your HACCP plan for “Histamine Fish Group” which lists “Presence of ice/coolant or temperature during transport.” You told our investigators that your procedure is to measure the internal temperature of the truck and one fish product upon receipt. This practice is inadequate to ensure that product was transported under appropriate temperature controls.

Do what you say you are going to do in your HACCP Plan.
Presence of Ice or Temp is confusing. Try simplifying.  Don’t use ‘or’.  That way your logic will hold out through to the verification step, simply.  Therefore, more easily followed by those specified in the WHO (the who’s going to do it)  column. OR you may be sorry.

We may take further action if you do not promptly correct these violations. For instance, we may take further action to seize your product(s) and/or enjoin your firm from operating.

You should respond in writing within fifteen (15) working days from your receipt of this letter.

Your response should outline the specific things you are doing to correct these violations.

You should include in your response documentation such as HACCP and verification records, or other useful information that would assist us in evaluating your corrections.

If you cannot complete all corrections before you respond, you should explain the reason for your delay and state when you will correct any remaining violations.

This letter may not list all the violations at your facility. You are responsible for ensuring that your processing plant operates in compliance with the Act, the seafood HACCP regulation (21 CFR Part 123), and the Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulation (21 CFR Part 110). You also have a responsibility to use procedures to prevent further violations of the Act and all applicable regulations.

FDA means it.  Take it serious. Change your ways.
They can close your doors.

Don’t delay.  Get your HACCP TEAM on this NOW.

Make it clear you understand and that your corrections are adequate.

Support your corrections with the changes made in your HACCP, if any, and proof that you are doing your plan’s corrective action.

Need more time?  Ask for the time you need, right away.  Explain.

FDA is saying this isn’t over.  Change is inevitable.  You must demonstrate that you can utilize 21 CFR 123 HACCP and Sanitary Operating Procedures 21 CFR 110 in the constant improvement of your food safety culture as reflected in you HACCP program.  In short, Your HACCP program is a living document.

Final note: SANITATION |   You are required to monitor sanitation conditions and practices during processing, which includes warehousing activities, with sufficient frequency to ensure compliance with current good manufacturing practice requirements in 21 CFR 110, to comply with 21 CFR 123.11(b).

Sending your HACCP team to a Train-the-Trainer Course recommended. Put it in your reply to FDA.  Can’t hurt. 

Here’s an example.   [ Click HereJune 27-29, 2012

Course starts at 8:00 am on June 27 and adjourns at 12:00 pm on June 29.

Segment Two Course*

June 26, 2012                   1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Courtyard Marriott - Miami (Coral Gables)

2051 LeJeune Rd.;   Coral Gables (Miami), FL 33134

Ph: 1-800-449-0228       Special Rate: $109+

Room block listed as: “Seafood HACCP Alliance Meeting” and is available June 25-29.

· Applications must be received by  May 19, 2012.   · Hotel Cut-Off Date is June

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Know the Food Code : Your Customers or else

Front cover of FDA 2009 Food Code

Do books like this scare you? Get over it, if you’re in the food service industry. Get familiar with this book. At the end of the post is a link to order a Code book from the Government. Order one. Put it near the telephone and use it, become a knowledgeable food service professional.

Brief Table of Contents
Previous Editions of Codes
(also available in PDF)
(also available in PDF)
(also available in PDF)
Chapter 1: Purpose and Definitions
(also available in PDF)
Chapter 2: Management and Personnel
(also available in PDF)
Chapter 3: Food
(also available in PDF)
Chapter 4: Equipment, Utensils, and Linens
(also available in PDF)
Chapter 5: Water, Plumbing and Waste
(also available in PDF)
Chapter 6: Physical Facilities
(also available in PDF)
Chapter 7: Poisonous or Toxic Materials
(also available in PDF)
Chapter 8: Compliance and Enforcement
(also available in PDF)
Index (Only applicable to PDF version.)
(available in PDF)
Annex 1: Compliance and Enforcement
(also available in PDF)
Annex 2: References
(also available in PDF)
Annex 3: Public Health Reasons/Administrative Guidelines
(also available in PDF)
Annex 4: Management of Food Practices –
Control of Foodborne Illness Risk Factors

(also available in PDF)
Annex 5: Conducting Risk-based Inspections
(also available in PDF)
Annex 6: Food Processing Criteria
(also available in PDF)
Annex 7: Model Forms, Guides, and Other Aids
(also available in PDF)
Summary: Summary of Changes in the FDA Food Code
(also available in PDF)
(Added September 2011)
Public Health Service
Food and Drug Administration
College Park, MD 20740
(This document in PDF)
To order the 2009 FDA Food Code please go to:

Monday, August 22, 2011

SSOP Deficiencies Match-Up

Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph sh...

Image via Wikipedia

Regardless of whether you have a food truck, stand alone restaurant or a catering service, If you are a food service manager/owner you will want to insure your employees receive ONLY what they order. No extra paint chips, bacteria, etc.  Take pictures and place them in a 4 column table like the one below, allowing the 2nd and 4th column for placing the answer based on the numbered Standard Sanitary Operations Program inspection ( SSOP )observations below.  FDA and your local state and city health department will let you operate without too much harassment as well.  Maybe even, smile. 

Keep  focused on making your customer happy and you’ll be happy.



1.    Debris between the wall and the sliding door by the cafeteria/warehouse door. Vector for pest infestation.
2.    Styrofoam (debris) by the hand truck storage corner.(cross contamination )

3.     No gloves in front of the freezer packing station. Employees cannot protect hands properly.
4.    The handles of the carts that are used to move tuna are not in good repair. (cross contamination ).
5.    Sharpening stone left on top of the garbage container. (cross contamination)
6.    Used tuna boxes stored (Need to dispose of them) (cross contamination )
7.    Chicken eggs mixed with vegetables, they need to be in a separate refrigerator.  Eggs must be stored separately.
8.    Empty boxes, thrown in a corner of the dry area after use. Vector for pest infestation.

Name    ____________________   Date   __________               



Let your employees place the number next to the picture, sign, date and  comment if the wish and turn in. Now, grade, comment and return a copy while placing the original in their personnel file, proving an ongoing training of your food service employees for the health inspector .

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nosey Seafood Safety

That’s right.  Use your nose.  Here’s the story from the folks who train their nose to tell them more than we usually request of our schnozzle.

Inside NOAA’s Seafood Inspection Laboratory in Pascagoula, Miss., NOAA’s expert seafood assessors are training state personnel to use their sense of smell and taste to detect any unusual odors and flavors in Coast fish — aromas that could indicate contamination by oil or dispersants from the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.

An inspector from NOAA's Seafood Inspection Program conducts sensory analysis - a smell test - of a sample of fish.

An inspector from NOAA's Seafood Inspection Program conducts sensory analysis - a smell test - of a sample of fish. High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Steven Wilson, the chief quality officer for NOAA’s Seafood Inspection Program, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to ensure that the seafood that reaches your local market or seafood counter is safe to eat.

What varieties of Gulf Coast seafood are being “sniff-tested”?

Right now, we’re targeting 10 species of seafood, including shrimp, different types of snapper and grouper, and possibly croaker, from fishing areas that have been closed due to oil and are being evaluated for possible re-opening.

Using your sense of smell is one of the best methods for determining the safety and acceptability of seafood —sensory analysis is a commonly used tool in seafood safety and quality inspections. An essential element of the job of a NOAA seafood inspector is to determine what qualifies as Grade A fish, which means that seafood must have good flavor and odor.

How do you train people to use their sense of smell?

People are trained by exposing them to various kinds and concentrations of odors and flavors. This process takes time. Some people, unfortunately, are not trainable — some just don’t have an adequate sense of smell to do this work. However, most people have a sense that can be trained to detect specific odors and refined for enhanced sensitivity.  Read More of the article

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Recall: Florida Oysters : Cholera Outbreak

Steamed Oysters done two ways, with ginger and...

Image via Wikipedia

The article below is from

May 12, 2011 at 8:05AM by Justine Sterling

This article was posted as an example of personalizing what can be a rather dull story for most except raw oyster eaters and restaurant owners who sale same. Here is Justin’s article.

If you have recently purchased Florida oysters, you may want to examine their exact origin. Oysters from Area 1642, a zone that stretches from north to south in Apalachiola Bay, have been found to contain a mild but previously unseen strain of cholera.

Though there have been no hospitalizations, eleven people have been confirmed to have been infected by the toxin, according to Food Safety News. All who have been reported as ill consumed oysters from the area that were either raw or lightly poached. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers, restaurants and shellfish shippers and processors to abstain from eating, serving, selling or shipping oysters from the area also known as Cat Point that were harvested between March 21 and April 6. The oysters were distributed in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina but distribution to other states from those states may have occurred. The illness has been characterized by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea with symptoms beginning anywhere from a few hours to five days after consumption. It usually occurs after the consumption of raw or undercooked shellfish that has been harvested from contaminated waters.  Click here to read more of her article.

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