Archive for the 'Food Safety Programs' Category

Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa Awarded HACCP Certification

The Gourmet Guardian would like to congratulate to the Executive Chef of the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa Mr Jean-Marc Ruzzene and their Kitchen Hygienist Mrs Sarifa Bibi on becoming the FIRST hotel in Fiji to achieve external HACCP Certification from  the Fijian Ministry of Health.

2015 03 06 SFRS MOH HACCP Certificate

It is a legal requirement of the Food Act 2003 (Fiji Islands) and the Food Regulations 2009 (Fiji Islands) that all restaurants and hotels in Fiji achieve HACCP Certification by the 31st December 2015. The Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa achieved their HACCP Certification in February 2015.

The Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa also achieved independent HACCP Certification from Sci Qual International in the same week.

2015 02 04 SFRS SQI-456 HACCP 2015 eCert

NOTE: In 2012 the Fiji Times reported that businesses that did not achieve this certification would not be allowed to trade. There have many hotels in Fiji that have had the believe this won’t happen, but with less than seven months to go, anyone that hasn’t started needs to get a move on. The Gourmet Guardian can help all hotels and restaurants in Fiji achieve the same HACCP Certification result as the  Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa.

 

A La Carte Restaurant Scam

be-smart-dont-be-a-victim

As reported by The Age on 6th October 2013, several Southbank Restaurants have been hit by scam artists who demand compensation after claiming to have suffered an allergic reaction to one of their meals.

One female fraudster has duped several riverfront eateries over the past month, while at least two restaurateurs called the young woman’s bluff and refused to pay.

”She was quite well presented, spoke with a slight American accent and was very convincing,” said Pure South Manager Philip Kennedy.

The woman introduced herself as ”Jessica Harris” and claimed to have experienced a severe anaphylactic reaction to a dish that contained chestnuts, after warning waiters of her nut allergy.

The scam fell apart when Mr Kennedy tried to corroborate her story. ”She couldn’t have been sitting at the table she said, and we only served one dish with chestnuts that day, which was at lunch, but she said she’d been here for dinner,” he said. The woman gave a fake mobile phone number before leaving, but tried the Japanese restaurant Sake a few days later, where she pulled off the same scam and was compensated by an unsuspecting Manager.

Unfortunately as you would all be aware, these types of stories are not uncommon in the hospitality industry and because of the serious nature of the claims they cannot be disregarded. Any Allergen related complaints from customers MUST be taken seriously but you should also take the appropriate steps before handing over any form of compensation:

  • Ask the customer if they have a medical certificate
  • Ask for proof of identification (drivers license) to ensure who they claim to be is who they actually are
  • Always ensure kitchen records are filled in and up to date
  • Ask them to fill in a complaint form which may cover the list below, which will ensure you can do an investigation of your records to make sure their story checks out:

Beware

        •  Which meal they ate
        • Date of incident
        • Name of the waiter or staff
        • Which service they ate during
        • Reaction experienced

 

To ensure the risk of having a real Allergen complaint from a customer is at the minimalist you should ensure all staff have the appropriate Allergen Awareness Training and that accurate information is provided for meals including what ingredients they contain.

You can view a free sample of the online Food Allergen Training that we can offer to you and your staff.

For more information on this story please click the link below:

The Age – Eateries Done Like  A Dinner In Scam

 

Don’t Risk A Fine

New food laws require certain food businesses in the NSW hospitality and retail food service sector to have at least one person trained Food Safety Supervisor (FSS). Businesses have until 1 October 2011 to appoint their trained Food Safety Supervisor and notify the relevant council. Penalties for not having a Food Safety Certificate in NSW include a $330 fine for individuals or a $660 fine for corporations, plus placement on the NSWFA “Name and Shame” website for 12 months.

Click on the image below to access an online Food Safety Supervisor Training course.

NSWFA - Food Safety Supervisor

Food Safety Audit Update

In my previous post, I sent you information on the new audit guidelines for Vulnerable Persons (VP) in NSW.

At the session, John Fallon from the New South Wales Food Authority (NSWFA) explained that there are only 22 approved external third party auditors in NSW.

He provided an enforcement update on all VP audits that have been conducted (by NSWFA employed auditors and external third party auditors).

He indicated that the top TWO problems encountered during audits were:

  • Ineffective monitoring records
  • Not complying with there food safety program

#1 Non Conformance: “Ineffective” Monitoring records

This included:

  • Not having records in place
  • Missing records or records not available
  • Completed records not identifying issues (i.e. Temperatures recorded outside critical limits)
  • No recorded corrective action when problems were identified
  • Supervisor signing off on incomplete or incorrect records

It is stated in the VP Guidelines that IT IS a requirement for someone to check all completed records. Even though it is not a requirement for records to be signed, we certainly recommend this practice to our clients.

We have a client who purchased from a newsagent, an “APPROVED” stamp and the person doing the checking stamps the monitoring record and signs above where it was stamped. I think this is a simple and effective means of verifying your records. You still need to make sure that the person who does the “approving” actually checks that the record has been completed correctly.

#2 Non Conformance: “Not complying with their food safety program”

Remember a couple of days ago I told you that your program should:

“Say as you do” and you should “Do as you say”.

Consistent areas where Corrective Action Requests (CARs) were raised included:

  • Labeling techniques used
  • Content of an internal audit – The internal audit process did not include a review of their food safety program. (Note: The findings of the internal audit should reflect what is found at an external audit)
  • Good manufacturing practices
  • Allergen management

The NSWFA will continue to monitor ALL Vulnerable Persons facilities (including businesses with Third Party Auditor (TPA) approval) and the Proprietor of the facility is responsible for ensuring that an audit is organised.

All VP audits conducted in NSW are reported electronically to the NSWFA. Every month, the NSWFA runs a report on facilities that are overdue for an audit. The following process is applied:

  • If overdue by 3 months they will be sent a “reminder letter”
  • If overdue by 6 months they will be sent a “warning letter”
  • Failure to comply will result in a $1320 penalty for corporations
    and $660 for individuals.

All scheduled audits must be conducted within the allocated 6 or 12 month period.

Your license cannot be renewed if there are any outstanding audits that have not been conducted.

New Vulnerable Persons Guidelines Announced by NSWFA

On Thursday 9th June 2011, I attended a one day workshop at the New South Wales Food Authority (NSWFA) for all food safety auditors in NSW. While the event was beneficial for all attendees, it was disappointing to realise that less than half of the 22 approved auditors in NSW bothered to attend.

Whenever possible, I attend the meetings the different state regulators have for auditors and I am attending another one in September for Victorian auditors.

Joanne Bulle is a recent addition to The Gourmet Guardian team and she also travelled from Albury to Sydney for the one day meeting.

These meetings are an important forum for the regulator (in this case the NSWFA) to update auditors on resources, requirements, changes in legislation and also to provide an outlet to discuss any problems or concerns auditors may have and to seek clarification on them.

This meeting was no exception. There are two very important changes that have been made by the NSWFA.

The first is they have updated the audit checklist that all auditors are required to complete and the second is that they have revised the guidelines for businesses serving food to Vulnerable Persons Businesses (VP). The audit checklist was updated to match the guidelines.

If you are a VP business, I feel it is vital, if you have not already done so, to download and print these guidelines to ensure you are complying with them.

http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/industry_pdf/guidelines_vp_2011.pdf Click Here To Download The Vulnerable Persons Business Guidelines

Your next audit will be made using these guidelines and you will be expected to comply with them. Continue reading ‘New Vulnerable Persons Guidelines Announced by NSWFA’

Food Safety Standards Higher In Australia

I couldn’t pass up the chance to share this photo with you – to put our Food Safety Standards in perspective.

The next time you get upset because of the bureaucracy, red tape and government regulations – just remember, they exist for a reason…!

Food Safety - Milk

Does your Food Preparation Staff Make these Food Safety Mistakes?

If you own a restaurant or a catering service, or you have a great deal of experience in the food industry, you already know that safety concerns should be one of the highest priorities. Not only can poorly prepared and unsafe food have dire consequences for your guests, you’ll find that it is the number one way to make sure that your business plummets. Furthermore, if you are someone who operates in Australia in general or in Victoria in particular, you are already aware that word of mouth can make or break you. If you want to make sure that your food-related business is going to survive, keep the following mistakes in mind and make sure that you can’t be accused of making them.

The first mistake that people often make is that they will not pay attention to what temperature that food is stored at. When you are thinking about the bacteria that most commonly infect food, you’ll find that it will tend to start between 5 °C to 60° C. This is a fairly wide range, and if you have to prepare food a long time before you serve it, make sure that you have taken a look what the temperature conditions are like.

Similarly, keep in mind that foods that are raw and that foods that are cooked are a place where bacteria can be spread and then passed on to your clients. Remember that raw food should always bee kept in their own separate containers and that they should be kept on the lowest level of the refrigerator to avoid their dripping on the raw foods below and possibly contaminating them. Remember that all food, raw or cooked, should be stored in the appropriate containers and that they should always be fully covered.

Remember that your water supply is another important consideration. Keep alert for any water warnings in your area and when it comes to food preparation, remember that you should always be safe rather than sorry. Remember that you can always boil the water first or get water from sealed bottles if you feel that there is a problem. Similarly, keep in mind that ice can be problematic and that it is always better to be safe than sorry.

When it comes to food contamination, remember that the consequences can be severe. You might be dealing with things like a guest’s severe illness, problems with the health inspectors, even a shut down if things are seen as being deeply problematic, so take the time to look over the proper procedures for keeping your kitchen clean and hygienic.

Without this Food Preparation Checklist, You Could Be Courting A Food Safety Disaster

If you run a restaurant or kitchen of any sort in Melbourne, you already know that it is a tough town when it comes to food safety standards and restaurant reputation.  You will find that there are number of things that can sink a restaurant in Victoria, but nothing will shut a business down faster than sanitation violations.  If it is discovered that your restaurant has health violations, you can watch your business drop like a rock.

The answer, of course, is to make sure that your kitchen stays in great shape and maintains a high standard of cleanliness.  Though this is by no means a complete list, you will find that these suggestions can help keep your kitchen operating at a high standard.

Store cooked and uncooked food separately. This is essential when you are looking at making sure that your restaurant has a high degree of sanitation.  Essentially, cooked food very often goes directly to the tables of your diners.  Raw food, which is uncooked and untreated, may very well still be carrying bacteria or other contaminants that can be transferred to the cooked food.  By keeping them separate, you’ll be able to keep them from affecting each other.

Label everything. It seems simple, but the truth of the matter is that you should label everything that comes into your kitchen.  Make sure that your kitchen staff undergo food safety training and know what is in the various containers. This way they will only open them when necessary and they will not risk contamination through repeated exposure.

Labelling will also help to improve the speed and efficiency of your kitchen.  Similarly, you may also want to think about dating things to know when they were received.

Temperature readouts. No matter where you keep food, you should make sure that there is a temperature gauge nearby.  This can be instrumental when you are keeping cold foods and when you want to make sure that they stay good.

Take some time and really consider what your options are going to be when it comes to installing thermometers in your food storage location; this can help you a great deal.

Food satefety training for your staff? Remember that when it comes to keeping your restaurant sanitized that your workers play a large part.  There does tend to be a fairly high turn around in kitchens, so take some time to make sure that your workers are aware of what needs to happen to keep the kitchen to high food safety standards.  Make sure that you include both front room staff and kitchen staff when it comes to this kind of food safety training.

When you are running a commercial kitchen, you’ll find that you need to think about what your options are going to be in terms of keeping it safe and clean.  Educate your staff and keep in mind the fact that there are professional services out there that can help you monitor your existing procedures and give you a detailed list of how they can be improved.  Remember that a little money spent on this now can prevent large legal fees down the line.

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

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.

How to Keep Your Food Preparation Area in Full Legal Compliance

If you operate a business in which food is a main staple, food safety should be at the top of your priority list. Not only do you have the legal requirements to keep your kitchen and food preparation areas in good, safe conditions. But you also have an obligation to your customers to keep the things they eat and go into their mouth, clean, safe, and of the highest quality.

Health departments and food safety departments outline all requirements; food safety procedures and kitchen procedures that must be followed by every establishment. What happens if you do not follow these requirements? Well, most importantly you run the risk of hurting your customers. All it takes is for one customer to have an illness or unsanitary problem with their food and your business could take a downfall.

When it comes to commercial kitchen food safety, there are requirements to meet in regards to food storage, food preparation, and safe food handling. These requirements are all geared towards preventing illnesses and diseases that could arise when food is improperly handled, cooked, and stored.

Some food safety requirements within Australia include:

Keeping foods that are deemed potentially hazardous at the correct temperature. In most cases, it is really straight-forward. If foods must be frozen, freeze them at temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius. The guidelines also dictate storage of food. Not only should it be stored at the correct temperature, but it should also be stored to provide protection from any contamination and within conditions that will have no affect on the food in terms of suitability and safety.

There are also regulations that dictate how to reheat food. Foods that are deemed potentially hazardous should be reheated quickly. The foods should be heated to at least 60 degrees Celsius and done so at a rapid pace.

If you are displaying food, you should make sure that you are using different serving utensils for each type of food. Cross food contamination is perhaps the easiest of all contamination processes so it should be carefully guarded against.

With the number of laws and regulations provided in regards to food safety, it can be easy to forget or overlook. However, you need to remember that all it takes is just one bad review or a customer to have a negative experience to ruin the reputation of your business. Therefore, it is a good idea to seek advice from a reputable food safety business in order to help you keep your kitchen safe and your equipment in meeting legal standards.

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