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“BEFRIENDING THE OWNERLESS WORKPLACE FRIDGE”

woman-work-lunchYou must make a concerted effort to make sure your family’s lunches and your own work lunches are kept out of the temperature danger zone.

Everyday we put our own and families health at risk without even thinking of the consequences involved, it is estimated there are 5.4 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year. It is so easy to take simple and quick steps to ensure the safety of yourself and more importantly your family on a daily basis.

Perishable food becomes unsafe to eat if the total time in the temperature danger zone (5° C – 60° C) is greater than 4 hours, to put this in perspective; this is about the time between leaving home and lunchtime!

Packing a lunch to take to work is a healthy and cost effective option, but leaving that lunch out of the workplace fridge or not in a cooler if you work outside can lead to food poisoning bacteria growing quickly during hot weather. Bacteria especially like to grow in the healthier foods, such as premade salads and cold meats. It only takes a few minutes to make a quick detour to the fridge when you first step into the office, a choice that can decide your health’s fate.

So step up and rather than avoid it, make friends with that fridge at work that no one seems to own. Make sure it is clean and not packed with ageing food. Put in a fridge thermometer and check it is running at 5° C or below.

Begin the working year by everyone getting together to clean out the fridge and giving it at least one owner – a person responsible for setting up a workplace roster for keeping fridges and kitchens clean. Pens and labels should be available for people to label containers with name and date.

Below are some more precautions you can take to ensure your lunch stays risk free:

  • Ensure you prepare food with well-washed hands and utensils
  • Wash your hands before eating lunch
  • Lunch boxes and reusable drink bottles must be thoroughly washed and dried daily
  • Avoid risky foods in hot weather such as soft cheeses, sprouts, pate, etc.
  • Put food in the fridge as soon as you arrive at work
  • Pack frozen or chilled drinks in with food items to help keep the temperature down
  • Use refrigerated leftovers within 3 days – if in doubt, throw it out! 

Employers can assist by making refrigerators and coolers are available and in good order. Hand washing soap and drying facilities should be made available in kitchens and hand washing posters put up or awareness made by Food Hygiene Courses undertaken. This could lead to a reduction in sick leave, not just from food poisoning but also viruses such as norovirus and influenza, which are currently taking a toll in the Northern Hemisphere.

Food poisoning results, on average, in 120 deaths, 1.2 million visits to doctors, 300,000 prescriptions for antibiotics, and 2.1 million days of lost work each year. The estimated annual cost of food poisoning in Australia is $1.25 billion.

If you have food poisoning, don’t go to work and avoid handling food for others until 48 hours after symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea stop.

If food poisoning symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

For further information:

Food Safety Information Council 

WHY do consumers ignore vital Food Safety labels?

Food poisoning, on average result in 120 deaths, 1.2 million visits to doctors, 300,000 prescriptions for antibiotics, and 2.1 million days of lost work each year. The estimated annual cost of food poisoning in Australia is $1.25 billion. A cause contributing to these totals is the increasing risk consumers are taking by ignoring vital information given on Food Safety labels, endangering themselves and their families.

A national Newspoll Survey, commissioned by the Food Safety Information Council for Australian Food Safety Week, shows too few Australian adults are taking notice of vital food safety advice on food labels and, with summer ahead, are taking risks by not using insulated bags or coolers to transport refrigerated food.

Dr Michael Eyles, Council Chair, says it is disturbing to find only just over half (55%) of those surveyed always read and comply with ‘use by’ dates and less than half (45%) always read and comply with ‘best before’ dates.

“Frightening is not too strong a word to describe other results, including that only a third (33%) of people always read and comply with storage instructions and a meager 14% always read and comply with cooking instructions,” Dr Eyles elaborated.

“Consumers are obviously not taking advantage of the wealth of readily available information on labels which are intended to make our food safer and shopping decisions easier. For example ask yourself ‘Will I eat all of this by the ‘use by’ date?’; ‘Do I have room in the fridge/freezer?’; ‘Do I really want to cook this for that long’

“When shopping, choose products you know you will consume or freeze within the ‘use by’ time. Never buy products after the ‘use by’ date. In fact it’s illegal to sell such food due to the risk of food poisoning.

“Food past the ’best before’ date is legal to sell and is often on special as this date refers to quality not safety − the biscuits may have lost their crunch, but won’t cause food poisoning.

“Storage instructions have a significant influence on the safety of perishable food, and can negate ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates as these depend on food being refrigerated or otherwise stored properly. ‘Refrigerate after opening’, ‘keep frozen’ or ‘refrigerate under 4°C’ must be followed or food poisoning bacteria will grow quickly.

“Don’t rely on how you stored food in the past. Products change with food trends, and many are now lower in salt and sugar than in the past. Food manufacturers know the recipe, the manufacturing process, and other details that indicate how long a product will last and how to store and cook it safely. “Read the advice on the label and you may find that the products you used to keep open in the cupboard now need to be refrigerated.”

Eyles says despite cooking instructions being hugely important “an astounding 86% of those surveyed didn’t always read and comply with these instructions which is far too high and creates a serious food poisoning risk, especially for poultry, minced or cubed meats, or egg products.

“Following the manufacturer’s advice on temperature, cooking time, stirring and resting time is essential to ensure the food is safely cooked through and delicious,” he says.

On an optimistic note, the Council’s Newspoll survey did show that more than 8 in 10 (83%) people say the last time they bought refrigerated food it took less than 30 minutes to get the food from the store to the home fridge with nearly everyone else getting the food home in under an hour.

“This was a great result, and with the hot weather now for most of the country the 3 in 10 survey respondents (25% in capital cities versus 37% in regional Australia) saying they used an insulated bag or cooler to take food home are the smart ones, and hopefully others will follow their lead.

“Refrigerated food can warm quickly into the temperature danger zone (5°-65°C) where food poisoning bacteria can grow − this is especially risky for foods that won’t be cooked again such as sliced deli meats, pate, prepared salads, cut fruits and soft cheeses.

“Also, pick up refrigerated and frozen food last when shopping and always take an insulated bag or cooler with you to the shops,” Dr Eyles concluded.

This information has been reproduced in with permission of Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

For more information visit:

Or contact:

Juliana Madden: 0407 626 688

Executive Officer

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 Poisoning Report

Protect your business and your clients
from getting food poisoning!

Did you know that there are 2,700,000 cases of food poisoning in the food service industry in Australia every year? (5,400,000 when you consider Australian households).

That’s more than the population of Brisbane, Wollongong and Sunshine Coast combined!

Fortunately, the majority of these tragic ‘accidents’ are easily avoidable as long as your employees handling, preparing and transporting food understand how to prevent good food from going bad.

That’s why The Gourmet Guardian has released a special and timely report to help you, your managers, supervisors, chefs, kitchen hands and employees understand how to prevent food poisoning outbreaks before they happen.

Even when there are no ‘casualties’,
food poisoning is STILL deadly… to your business!

While many food poisoning victims recover in a few days, it can cause hospitalisation and trigger chronic diseases like fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

That’s the good news.

The flip side… In rare instances it can prove fatal to young children, the elderly and sometimes even healthy adults.

That would be tragic for you and your business!

Thankfully, the prevention is better than the cure… and, thanks to The Gourmet Guardian, the ‘cure’ is easy.

You can start implementing it in the next 5 minutes.

Click here to download your complimentary copy of the Top 10 Causes Of Food Poisoning report

Click on the image to download your complimentary copy of the Top 10 Causes Of Food Poisoning report

This special report is published by Gavin Buckett who has vast experience including15 years as a qualified chef, food safety trainer implementing HACCP systems in at least a dozen market sectors as well as six years as a registered food safety auditor, which in 2008 culminated in achieving the highest Level 4 – High Risk Auditor status in the National Food Safety Auditor Scheme.

In this important document, you will discover the top ten causes of food poisoning. This list is not “ranked” in any particular order as we don’t want you to think that one is more or less important than another.

All 10 are equally important. With this special report in hand, all you have to do is go through the 10 points and tick off the boxes to ensure your food operations are not putting your clients, your staff and your business at risk.

This special report will also educate you about the following:

  • IMPORTANT! How high risk cooked foods must be cooled to keep them outside the DANGER ZONE!
  • How to ensure the food you serve and sell is ‘SAFE’ from salmonella and other pathogenic bacteria and deadly viruses!
  • The right temperature food must reach when reheating.
  • The ONLY foods that do not require further cooking prior to consumption and the ones that do.
  • An easy way to find out if your food suppliers are playing Russian Roulette with your business!
  • What you must know abut the Critical Control Point – Psst! Most food businesses get this wrong.
  • How to reduce the number of dangerous micro-organisms to an acceptable level.
  • What you must know about defrosting – before you get burned (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun)!
  • The 3 sources of cross-contamination – You might be surprised to learn NONE of them has anything to do with food!
  • How to control the potential hazard in your workplace.

This special report will at the very least give you 10 practical and important points you should implement in your food service business IMMEDIATELY…

Did you know that a restaurant in Sydney
wasn’t aware of one of these points,
killing one man and making another 12 people sick?

That was just from 1 point out of the top 10.

They might have got 9 out of 10 but were “unaware” of 1 of these requirements.

Pretty scary isn’t it. Definite “food for thought” …

Don’t leave food safety to chance!

Download this important report immediately and discuss these points with your staff as soon as possible.

Click here to download your complimentary copy

Click here to download your complimentary copy

Let’s face it…

Having food authority inspectors and environmental health officers breathing down your neck is not fun.

They could close your business ‘until further notice’ or for good!

Worse still, you could plead guilty in the industrial court to counts of handling and selling unsafe food. Heavy fines and penalties, or worse, you could kill someone.

Don’t take the risk of food poisoning lightly –
especially when prevention is so easy.

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’

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.

A Career in Hospitality Isn’t Complete Without a Food Safety Course

by Malcolm J. Richmond

Anyone about to begin a career in hospitality in Melbourne needs to know what the professionals already do: this is a tough crowd to please. The smallest damage to your reputation can ruin you in this town. A career in hospitality can be a very rewarding one, but it is something that requires attention to detail and of course, food safety. Before you step into the hospitality industry, you and your staff need to know the applicable food safety regulations inside out.

Your staff has to be prepared for any situation which may arise in the kitchen in terms of food safety and best health practices. This means that each and every member of your staff has to complete a food safety course. Once your staff has completed this course you’ll know that they’ve been properly trained and are aware of all the relevant food safety issues.

What many people do not know is that food safety goes so much further beyond “wash your hands” and “keep everything at the right temperature.” What you are going to need to do is to look into all the small but equally important things that you need to know to make sure that your hospitality business is among the best.

For instance, have you thought about the fact that you need to label everything that goes into your kitchen?

This will help you avoid needing to open containers and then resealing them when it turns out that they are not what you want. Every time a container is opened, it risks being contaminated and you can cut down on this risk by making sure that everyone knows what is in what container.

Whether you’re in the hospitality business proper or your company has any involvement in food preparation or handling, it is essential that your staff take and complete a food safety course. When kitchen staff is not properly trained in food safety, you place your business in peril.

Food preparation personnel who are not aware of proper food safety procedures can quickly lead to a kitchen which harbors disease causing microorganisms. Any risk of sickening a patron due to your kitchen’s sanitation or food handling procedures is one which should be eliminated.

Especially in Melbourne, a single customer made ill by eating in your establishment could be the end of your career in hospitality. A food safety course is a wise investment in the future of your business – and far cheaper than the cost of a lawsuit!

It can be difficult to keep your kitchen staff properly trained in food safety issues. Since the turnover rate in the hospitality industry tends to be rather high, you’ll be faced with the challenge of regularly ensuring that new hires are aware of all the relevant safety issues. Hiring a certification expert and food safety consultant can help your business make sure that the food you serve is safe with regular training and audits of your food preparation areas.

Particularly in Melbourne, proper training for your staff through a food safety course is vitally important to your work in the hospitality industry.

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.