had to renew my Safe Food Handlers permit. Although most of the stuff on the
test and in the lectures is common sense, I am always flabbergasted by both the
statistics for people contracting food born illness and the endless variety of
ways that can happen.
career I have only experienced one episode of passing along those nasty viruses
and germs that I am aware of. It was back in the 1980’s when I was the owner of
Rover’s Restaurant in Seattle. Several
members of my staff and I came down with a nasty flu. It was Christmas season
and my restaurant and catering operations were booked solid. Honestly it never
occurred to me not to show up to work. Hell I been cooking sick or injured on
and off most of my life. The motto I was trained under was that the show must
always go on no matter what. If I cut myself I would get the stitches after my
shift, if I was sick I would simply grin and bear it.
I was not alone, we all did that. In the
restaurants I worked in, we were always understaffed to begin with and it was
virtually impossible to get someone to cover a shift, especially if your were
the chef, and any cook worth his or her weight already had a job.
It seems that over thirty million
Americans annually contract some form of food related illness and the majority
of these cases occur in peoples homes. We still have to be extremely careful
though. When all of those people came down with the flu, it took me along time
to live it down. My restaurant was considered one of the best in the city and
this epidemic was not good for business. I even called the Health Department
myself to find out what had happened. The inspector did not find anything wrong
with the kitchen and that’s how we ascertained that it must have been the flu
After six hours of sitting in a
food safety class and then taking the test, I think I could boil it all down to
a few concepts. If you as a chef or restaurateur can take these simple steps,
the chances of passing along something nasty are greatly reduced. Remember
every unhappy customer tells at least seven people about the experience and
then those people tell seven more. If a customer gets sick, you can count on
that figure doubling or tripling.
temperature, temperature. If you don’t know already call your health
department and fresh up on the official cooking temps for all foods. Especially
when it comes to cooling down and or freezing foods. Bacteria can go wild
in certain temperate environments and it’s always good to know what they
your kitchen spotless and sanitize religiously within the health
department guidelines. This may seem like a pain in the ass, but a good
kitchen is always a clean one anyway. If you are a professional this will
not be a problem
to proper storage techniques in your refrigeration systems. There are a
myriad of ways foods can cross contaminate each other and its wise to know
what they are.
have you and your staff wash their hands. This I believe is how my
customers caught the flu. Use gloves were appropriate as well.
use suppliers who practice similar methods and check all of your food for
freshness and quality. Also remember that free range animals and organic
foods are less likely to carry disease that products that are mass
produced, or exposed to large amounts of chemicals and so forth.
- Make sure that you use separate cutting
boards for all of meat and fish and that same goes for your machinery.
Completely sanitize anything that might have a chance to cross