Posts Tagged ‘E Coli’

What Is Being Done to Prevent Infectious Meats?

July 28, 2011

While is it important that restaurants maintain proper food safety protocols to protect customers, members of the meat industry should also do their part in preventing pathogens from reaching consumers.  This includes making sure animals are raised, transported, and slaughtered with food safety in mind.


It is commonly accepted that healthy animals are less likely to carry food borne pathogens than animals that are sick.  Therefore, those who raise animals need to be sure that their stock is being properly cared for.


The type of food an animal eats could be a part of this.  A recent study by the USDA Agricultural Research Service showed that the use of wet distillers grain with solubles (WDGS) may be linked to a higher occurrence of O157:H7, the most common strain of E. coli.


Other ways animal raisers may try to ensure the health of the animal are through antimicrobials, probiotics, and vaccines.  However, these practices may not lead to a long term reduction of pathogens.  In addition, the use of antimicrobials may actually lead to the development of pathogens that are resistant.


The cleanliness of the cages animals are held in when traveling to slaughter and the condition of the lairage, the pens animals are held prior to slaughter, are also considerations.  Dirty animal cages could lead to further contamination.


The government is also concerned about increased safety in meats.  In January, the USDA proposed new regulations for finding E. coli strains in meat beyond that of O157:H7.


Some experts say that these new regulations shouldn’t put too much extra burden on the meat manufacturers because, when used properly, methods used to control O157:H7 are also effective in controlling other strains.


Regardless of what the feds or anyone else does, restaurants need to do their part to ensure tainted meat does not have a seat at their table.  Watching where the meat comes from and properly handling it once it is received can help the restaurant protect customers from food related illness.


The Guests No One Wants

July 26, 2011

With the recent outbreak of E. coli in Europe, food safety may be at the forefront of the restaurateur’s mind.  No one wants to be responsible for someone getting sick on their watch, and so maintaining food safety practices in the restaurant as well as checking the suppliers’ should be a priority.


A restaurant owner or manager who wants to stop pathogens from being served should do what it takes to prevent it from coming into the kitchen in the first place.  Checking with the suppliers to make sure they are obtaining and shipping products in the correct manner can be an important step.


It is also important to make sure farming practices are up to standard.  After all, E. coli and other bugs can get onto produce via contaminated water.  Thus, irrigation practices and water testing should be in place to make sure products are safe.


Of course, the responsibility isn’t placed only on the suppliers.  Restaurants must do their part to make sure food is being prepared properly.  This includes making sure hands are properly washed, surfaces are properly cleaned, produce is properly washed, and food is properly cooked.


A major part of this is to make sure the restaurant staff is adequately trained.  It is important for them to understand the importance of food safety and why the different protocols are in place.  One slip-up could cause the downfall of an entire food safety procedure and get someone sick.


There are different ways to make these facts real to the staff in the restaurant.  Posters and signs do some good, but can be easily forgotten.  Object lessons and linking the information to real life examples may make the lesson stick better.


No one wants their restaurant to be pinned with a food safety outbreak, but it is one of the risks of the job.  Making sure the restaurant staff as well as any suppliers and distributors are keeping up food safety precautions can lower that risk significantly.


Upholding Food Safety Protocols

July 12, 2011

Nobody wants a food safety issue at their restaurant.  Customers don’t want to get sick, and the chef and restaurant staff certainly don’t want to be responsible for food poisoning on their watch.  Therefore, it is important that a restaurant have and maintain strict food safety protocols.


Many in the restaurant business know the importance of providing proper food safety training for their staff.  Simple things like knowing when and how to wash hands, storing food properly, and keeping the kitchen clean should be second nature to anyone working in a restaurant.


It is also important and should be common knowledge to make sure that food is kept out of the “danger zone.”  Cold food should be kept cold and hot food should be kept hot.  But upholding food safety procedures goes beyond preventing a problem once the food gets into the restaurant.


If, for example, spinach is contaminated with E. coli when it arrives at a restaurant, problems could erupt.  So then, it is important for restaurateurs and restaurant staff to ensure that the food being delivered to the restaurant is up to standard.


Ensuring the product obtained is free from contamination may involve a little road trip.  Speaking or visiting with the supplier, asking questions, and analyzing the answers are some wise steps a restaurant owner or manager can take.


Then, once the food arrives at the door, a trained and knowledgeable person should be there to receive the delivery.  He should inspect and be choosy about what he accepts and what he doesn’t.


After he has chosen, it is important that the restaurant staff properly store all food in a timely manner.  Again, this goes back to keeping food out of the danger zone and training the staff in proper food safety protocols.


Preventing food borne illnesses at a restaurant ultimately rests in the hands of the restaurant.  They are often the last defense customers have against contamination and food poisoning.  Vigilance is key.




Serving Fresh Salsa or Guacamole? Better Make Sure You’re Not Serving E Coli On the Side!

August 7, 2010

If you serve guacamole or salsa in your restaurant, the Centers for Disease Control want you to be extra careful when preparing the vegetables in question. It turns out that improperly prepared Mexican dips are responsible for 1 out of every 25 food borne illness reports from restaurants. In fact, between 1998 and 2008, a study by the CDC found, some 3.9 percent of food borne illnesses were caused by the dips. This compares poorly to a previous study, done from 1984 through 1997 which found just 1.5 percent of food borne illnesses were caused by the same foods.

The report dealt primarily with fresh salsa and guacamole, especially the ones served by restaurants all over the country which prepare their own. The specific ingredients implicated in E Coli outbreaks have included such raw vegetables as hot peppers, tomatoes and cilantro.

It wasn’t always this way however. Prior to 1984, there was not a single reported outbreak of food borne illness related to Mexican dipping foods, perhaps because they were less popular back then.

The reason for the problems has to do with poor storage of the vegetables in question. The CDC found that they were often stored at room temperature, a level which allows diseases to breed more easily thus leading to increasing numbers of outbreaks. In twenty percent of such infections, the problem was workers who were themselves infected previously and who passed along the infection when preparing the foods in question.

The CDC says that all vegetables used in the preparation of salsa and guacamole should be kept refrigerated to minimize the chance of outbreaks and that the batches should ideally be done in smaller amounts so that they will not affect large numbers of diners in case an outbreak does manage to get through.

In essence, the CDC says that fresh salsa and guacamole should be quite safe as long as it is prepared and stored in accordance with proper food handling procedures, something that not all restaurants have been known to do.