Food safety 2.0

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The next generation of tools and technology for professional sanitizing, handling and storage of food products and utensils.

Food-safety scares and foodborne illness outbreaks are favorite mainstream media fodder, and deservedly so. Even major chains with extensive resources, detailed processes and staff training specialists can fall victim to serious sanitation and food safety failures. Chipotle Mexican Grill is the latest chain to suffer the consequences, and the list of independent, institutional and retail operators gets longer each year.

Maintaining restaurant food safety is a challenge that must be met each and every day, with every meal served. Ensuring food safety requires detailed and documented oversight of the purchasing and sourcing processes; vigilant raw and processed ingredient inspection; and proper storage, food prep, cooking, handling, plating and service. Safety must be maintained throughout the journey, from loading dock to patron’s table, self-serve buffet or carry-out container.

Personal employee hygiene and the cleaning of surfaces that contact food, including equipment, prep and serving utensils, must be maintained as well. Employees need to be trained in proper food handling procedures and given the tools to effectively and efficiently maintain food safety.

The National Restaurant Association offers food safety education and certification programs, including its ServSafe Food Safety manager program. In addition, new safety-focused tools, technology, equipment and cleaning supplies are being tested and introduced each year. Here is my quick take on seven new products you may want to purchase for your restaurant.

Faster, safer hand washing
Product: ChekPoint Electronic Sensor Products
Company: T&S Brass and Bronze Works

First and foremost, food safety begins with good employee personal hygiene, including regular and effective hand washing. Today, hand sinks have leapt ahead in innovation with electronic sensor-activated, no-touch faucets. They are faster and easier to use, eliminate recontamination from faucet knobs and reduce water waste.

The T&S ChekPoint Faucet Line is a reliable example of what a modern-day restaurant faucet should be. It’s available in above-deck or below-deck models with three styles and three sensor/ valve power options. Above-deck faucet styles house their electronics within the faucet body, while below-deck models hide electronics discretely below the sink deck.

More 411: All sensor faucets require AC or DC electric power to activate water valves and sensors. ChekPoint power options include an AC 100-240 VAC plug-in transformer; behind-the- wall AC transformer installation with a terminal for up to eight faucets; or the EC-Hydro Generator that uses water fl ow to generate the electric power. They can be specifi ed for new construction or retrofi tted to existing sink decks. The new T&S universal deck plate can be installed on any sink to allow use of a single shank (mounting hole) faucet, including the ChekPoint Line, covering and sealing the old three-hole penetrations.

Eliminate cross contamination
Product: Color-Coded Food Storage & Prep Tools
Company: Rubbermaid Commercial Products

The mixed use of tools, containers or cutting boards without proper cleaning and sanitizing can transfer microorganisms from raw to cooked products, for example. Separate colorcoded cutting boards, food handling tools and containers are all organization solutions that can reduce the chance of dangerous cross contamination.

Rubbermaid is introducing a new color-coded line of food storage and preparation tools, which includes cutting boards, a cutting board rack, both square and round containers with matching lids, plus tongs and high-temp spatulas. The seven available color options are designed to facilitate safe preparation, handling and storage of raw meat, raw poultry, dairy products, seafood, cooked meat, produce and foods that can cause potential allergic reactions.

More 411: All RCP Color- Coded Food Storage & Prep Tools are dishwasher safe. High-heat spatulas are built to resist temperatures up to 500 degrees, and the tongs feature rubber grips for better product handling and control. The Color-Coded Food Storage & Prep Tools will be available in October.

Temperature danger zone
Product: Master Chill chillers and freezers
Company: Master-Bilt

The “Goldilocks,” just-right temperature zone that organisms need to survive and thrive, commonly considered to be 41-135 degrees, must be thoroughly avoided to ensure safe food for patrons. Master-Bilt Blast Chillers can be used to rapidly and safely chill cooked product through the temperature danger zone, extending the refrigerated shelf life of batch prepared foods up to five days, including the day of production and day of service. Blast freezing extends product life even further. MBC and MBCF Models also include retarder/proofing, storage and rapid-thaw operating modes; an LCD display with HACCP recorder and alarm; plus, a USB port and product core probe.

More 411: Master-Bilt Master Chill chillers and freezers are available in compact five- and sixpan undercounter models, reachin models, plus MCR-33 Series Roll-in and Pass-Thru Chillers. MBC Models use a patented Food Identification Controller, or FIC, to adjust chilling cycles using a multi-sensory probe that monitors product surface, sub-surface and core temperatures to prevent premature surface freezing and product degradation.

Cleaning the floors
Product: HydroSwivel Sweeper
Company: Strahman Valves

Floor cleaning is never a popular chore, but it is critical for proper kitchen sanitation, pest control and protecting employees from potential slips and falls. Earning a 2016 National Restaurant Association Kitchen Innovations (KI) Award, Strahman’s new HydroSwivel Sweeper is a unique cleaning tool that uses high-pressure water to quickly clean floor surfaces, including tile with grout lines. A three-wheel design and patent-pending HydroSwivel joint rotates 360 degrees, which allows users to easily reach underneath equipment and tables. A fixed water spray pattern is directed at the floor, minimizing over-spray on walls and the collateral damage that’s common with other high-pressure sprayers.

More 411: The HydroSwivel Sweeper comes in two versions with three or six spray tips, which are interchangeable for a range of flow rates from 2.5 to 10 gallons per minute. It also comes with Strahman’s Mini M-70 spray nozzle and a 3/4-inch garden hose connector.

Faster food labeling
Products: Quick Flip Pans
Company: Ecomarks Plastics

In addition to the use of rapid chill technology, diligent temperature monitoring and documentation, product batch labeling ensures first-in, first-out inventory control and “use by” date enforcement. Pre-printed stick-on labels are available along with print-to-order programmable label printers. Pre-printed and write-on labels must be removed after each batch use. Meanwhile, dissolvable labels can be expensive, and exterior labels can bleed or smear from moisture. Ecomarks’ Quick Flip Pans are clear polycarbonate plastic food storage pans with an easy-to-read, customizable information template embedded right on the pan’s front wall. After filling with product, employees use a grease pencil or marker to check the day of the week and record: food item, prep date, use-by date, employee and manager name, initials or ID number.

More 411: Ecomarks’ Plastic Quick Flip Pans won a 2016 National Restaurant Association Kitchen Innovations (KI) Award. They are dishwasher safe as well as scratch-, oil- and acid-resistant. They can withstand temperatures from minus 40 degrees to 210 degrees and are NSF listed. They’re available in 4-inch-deep 1/9, 1/6, 1/3 plus 6-inch-deep 1/6, 1/3, half and full sizes.

Dispensing straws
Product: Steri-Straw
Company: Steri-Straw

Self-service beverage dispensing can reduce labor costs and increase perceived value. But traditional cup, lid and straw dispensing equipment can be wasteful, increase costs and result in foodsafety issues from careless customer handling. However, there is some new dispensing technology on the market today that can eliminate these variables. Steri-Straw has introduced the first fully automatic straw dispenser that uses UV, or ultraviolet, light to completely sterilize beverage straws. Patrons just pass a hand beneath the motion sensor to initiate the process. It’s quick, neat and sanitary. It also eliminates the need for individually wrapped straws, which saves money. With a capacity for 600 straws, it also holds the highest volume of straws. While it can be left plugged in and charged at all times, it has a battery life of two days when unplugged.

More 411: Steri-straw previewed its next-generation automatic straw dispenser at the 2016 NRA Show in Chicago, which incorporates a 10-inch HD screen that can display advertising or promotional messages using manager input from a desktop computer or mobile device.

Management systems
Product: HT100 HACCP Touch
Company: Comark Instruments Back in the 1960s, Pillsbury Corporation and NASA developed the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) program, which entails guidelines to ensure food produced for U.S.- manned space missions was safe to eat. In the decades that followed, HACCP guidelines have been adopted by institutional and commercial restaurant operators to help prioritize, organize and document the food safety process. Comark’s paperless HACCP Touch is a compact, hand-held device that records product temperatures at critical points in the supply chain, including receiving, storage, preparation, cooking and holding. With downloadable software, HACCP Touch has sections for users, suppliers, products and equipment. It also records completed tasks.

More 411: The Comark HT100 is T-Type and K-Type thermocouple probe compatible and accurate to plus or minus 1 degree. It generates secure, tamper-proof data records and can even be programmed to issue corrective action commands when product temperatures fall outside a specified range. It has storage capacity for up to 65,000 readings, with 100 organizing folders for easy data recall.

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