Monthly Archive for January, 2009

Outbreak: A Food Professionals Worst Nightmare

If you have cooked in or run a restaurant in Melbourne, you know that you are playing to a tough crowd!  Not only does the city have great restaurants serving all types of food at a range of prices, but you will also find that it is a town with a long memory.

If you give your customers a great dining experience, you can bet that they will be back for more and that they will tell their friends, but if you mess up, word is certainly going to get around. Every restaurant manager fears a food poisoning outbreak, but if you work in Melbourne, you may have more reason than most to be frightened of it.

When you are looking at a food poisoning outbreak, you are looking at your restaurant getting a lot of publicity that it doesn’t need. You’ll find that you may be risking a citation or a warning at best, and complete shut-down at worst. This is how important adequate food safety and hygiene is to your restaurant.

Guests who are unlucky enough to eat at a time when your food safety isn’t as high as it should be may become quite sick, and while many cases of food poisoning can be quite mild, others are extremely severe or unpleasant. This is most common when children or people with weakened immune systems are exposed to tainted food.

Bacteria may easily exist on raw food like eggs, seafood, uncooked rice, or even raw vegetables.  For the most part, good washing practices and cooking will take care of the problems there, but if these foods come into contact with food that has already been prepared, the bacteria are able to pass themselves on. Some bacteria can even be transferred through unwashed hands onto food that is ready to serve. Other pathogens or bacteria will develop on food that as been allowed to grow too warm or that has begun to spoil.

There are many different ways to prevent a food poisoning outbreak. The first and most obvious thing that you need to think about is the fact that your staff need food safety training: to be taught how to handle and prepare food. Strict regulations about hand washing and sanitation on the food preparation floor are things that you really need to drill home.

You will also find that good storage, where raw food is never permitted to come in contact with food that is ready to serve is something that all staff need to be aware of. It is important to establish routine to ensure that staff form good hygiene habits.

The truth of the matter is that there is a multitude of different ways that a food poisoning outbreak can occur, but you don’t need to live in fear. Most restaurant managers aren’t experts in food safety, which is why they will enlist the services of a good food safety expert before anything goes wrong. If you want to make sure that nothing gets overlooked in the food safety of your restaurant, talk to an expert.  If you are cooking in Melbourne, you already know that you are playing to a tough crowd, so don’t make it any harder than it has to be!

Gavin can be contacted at gavin@agbsolutions.com.au or through his website at www.agbsolutions.com.au.

New Allergens Series Released

Recently, I’ve been working with the AMES as a consultant to produce a video training series. I was involved in training and content development, and we’ve produced a fantastic set of videos. Here’s a sneek peak at what you can see.

If you have any questions on Allergens, please don’t hesitate to contact me for info. Also, here’s a link to where you can check out the entire series.

Ensure Staff Prepare Food Correctly – Even When You’re Not There

If you work in a professional kitchen, particularly in a demanding city like Melbourne, you know that every night there is a lot at stake. Not only do you need to make sure that you are putting out great food, you also need to ensure that you are subscribing to the highest standards when it comes to food safety and hygiene.

Illness, a loss of reputation and even legal action are just some of the negative side effects that can occur when you start playing fast and loose with food safety. As a restaurant manager you have a responsibility to make certain that your restaurant is doing all that is necessary to meet the various challenges that food safety poses.

The first thing that you need to think about is education.  No matter how experienced your kitchen staff are, make sure that they have all the information they need to be able to conduct themselves appropriately in a food preparation location.

Some food safety procedures are fairly straightforward, others are not.  Make sure that everyone on the floor understands the measures that are taken and why they are necessary. Also make sure that they understand that no matter what kind of rush they are in, this is not something that they can be lax about!

Another area that you consider is proper food storage. While of course you will be able to set some things up to run permanently, like the temperature of your refrigerator or freezer, also keep in mind that there are things that need to be done to ensure that food is not contaminated before it even gets to the cook!  Remember, for instance, that meat should always be stored on the lowest shelf possible, as there is a chance that even a slight drop in temperature will cause it to melt and drip, contaminating the food below it.  Also, raw food and cooked food must always be kept separate.

Your staff must also be aware of the fact that they have a responsibility when it comes to keeping their areas clean.  For instance, dishes, utensils and surfaces need to be cleaned and dried, with a strong preference for things to air dry. Similarly, all equipment that comes in contact with food needs to be sanitized in some fashion between tasks and before every use.  All equipment that comes in contact with food, whether it is for transporting the food or serving or preparing it, must also be cleaned.

The consequences of taking food sanitation too lightly can be severe.  You have a responsibility to ensure the safety of your guests, and a failure to do so can result in some extremely negative consequences.

Remember that consulting with an expert can save you a great deal of grief down the road, so if you are feeling nervous about the issue, make sure that you consider the services of a food safety expert who can offer valuable advice, perhaps even provide a suitable food safety program, to ensure that your restaurant runs smoothly and meets or even exceeds the food safety legislation. Peace of mind in this area will enable you to focus on providing your customers with the most enjoyable dining experience possible.

Gavin can be contacted at gavin@agbsolutions.com.au or through his website at www.agbsolutions.com.au.

What Mistakes Does Your Team Make in Food Preparation?

Anyone who owns or runs a restaurant or other food preparation business wants to provide their customers with a safe and quality product.  Unfortunately, there are times when mistakes are made and the end result could be a sick or even dead patron.

Do you know that there are approximately 5.4 million cases of food poisoning a year in Australia?  Of these 120 will end with the loss of someone’s life.  All of these cases of food poisoning could be prevented if proper steps had been taken in the preparation of the food products they ingested.  I am sure that everyone in your kitchen wants and tries to comply with food safety standards, however, mistakes happen.  Or what if those standards are simply not enough?  What if there was more you could do to protect the people who are entrusting you with their well-being?  Would you take the opportunity to learn enough to guarantee your foods safety?

A food safety expert can save your kitchen the embarrassment of causing people to fall ill after eating your food.  With about 5.4 million cases of food poisoning a year, it is only a matter of time before someone gets sick from your kitchen; unless you are willing to do all that it takes to prevent it from happening.  By allowing a food safety expert to assist your staff, they can ensure that no one will get food poisoning from your kitchen.  Wouldn’t you enjoy that piece of mind?

A food safety expert can also make your establishment a more profitable one.  As people begin to talk about the wonderful experience they had dining in your restaurant, more guests will come in to try your menu for themselves.  What pride you would feel knowing you were running a place people loved to come into then told their friends about it.

AGB is the only Australian company owned and operated by an apprentice Chef of the Year.  Gavin Buckett is a food and safety expert and is making it his mission to teach restaurant owners and managers how to better protect their patrons and their businesses.

There are different food safety programs available to suit your individual needs.  For example, they can have their auditors come to your establishment and provide weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, or annual audits depending on your desire.  AGB can also provide your kitchen with management solutions such as; menu writing, cost control, equipment recommendations, event planning, sourcing suppliers, food preparation and handling training, product and recipe development, and allergen controls.  In addition, AGB also has a food safety compliance system.  It is a twelve-month course that only requires 10 minutes of your time each week.  This program teaches you tips, techniques and new teachings, all of which will make your restaurant a success.

When your establishment is run properly; is clean, organised, and putting out delicious quality products, word spreads.  When your restaurant is dirty, disorganised and putting out subpar products, word spreads.  What do you want people to be saying about your kitchen?

The HACCP systems designed by AGB Solutions Pty Ltd are practical and easy to read and each program is specifically designed for each client’s business. As most clients are implementing HACCP for the first time, AGB Solutions have designed an 11 Point Checklist for HACCP Certification Success so that we can provide our Guarantee to your success. Click here to see what we include in our 11 point checklist.