Each month we examine food safety violations from real kitchens and explain how to fix them—or avoid them altogether! Every foodservice operator knows food safety is the most important standard in kitchen. Read on to see what common mistakes your operation could be making and what your health inspector wants to see when dropping by unannounced. This month’s violations come from a café not too far from our headquarters in Huntington Beach:
Violation: “Not all of the food handlers possess a California Food Handler Card.”
Most states generally give you a grace period in order to give your employees plenty of time to get their food handler’s license. In California, for example, the law states “Any individual who is involved in the preparation, storage, or service of food in a food facility shall obtain a food handler card within 30 days after the date of hire.” With everything an operator has going on, it can be easy to forget to check which employees have completed this task, however, it is extremely important to make sure it’s done. Our best suggestion is to delegate this task to a manager to put on their check list. Having the reminder in writing or putting a notification on their calendar will help ensure this small yet significant task gets taken care of before the grace period runs out.
Violation: “The following food items at the cold-top unit, closest to the preparation area, were measured at the following temperature: A) Tuna: 50°F B) Ham: 50°F C) Diced chicken: 50°F D) Sweet potato 50°F E) Cheese: 50°F F) Diced tomatoes: 50°F G) Liquid egg: 50°F H) Vegan beef: 60°F Per the person in charge, the food was held for more than four hours.”
What a coincidence! One of the things a food handler learns while they’re completing their license is the correct food holding temperatures. Make sure your employees are not only trained on the correct food holding temperatures—both hot and cold—but that there is a system in place where an employee is consistently checking temperatures to make sure food is safe and equipment is working correctly. As a reminder, the USDA says food should be kept below 40°F and above 140°F to keep it out of the Danger Zone. All the food in the freezer at this café was 10°F higher than suggested. The health inspector quickly learned the equipment was faulty and ordered it be impounded. This could significantly affect your business if this piece of equipment was essential to your back of house. If an employee would have been checking the temperatures consistently, this malfunction could have been identified sooner and corrected.
Violation: “Multiple bulk containers containing bulk food items were observed to be missing labels.”
Do you see a common theme emerging from the violation blogs we’ve done so far? If you’re not labeling your ingredients and food items that aren’t obvious (like pasta), go get labeling right now! When you’re prepping ingredients or taking them out of bulk, part of the process needs to be putting a label on the container immediately afterward. Always keep a roll inside your walk-in and dry storage areas so that they’re constantly in the line of sight. When containers are empty, Cambro StoreSafe Labels make the cleaning process easy. Run the container—with the label still on—through a dishwasher and they dissolve within seconds!
Violation: “Unapproved broken cups were observed to be use for the juicing machines.”
We wish these reports included photos because we are very curious as to what these broken cups looked like. This should be obvious, but we all know that in the back of house sometimes things are used for far longer than they should be because there is something that has the perception of being more important. But, using broken items is a cross-contamination problem waiting to happen. Look for NSF-listed products to guarantee safety for commercial use. Do not jeopardize your business you’re using broken or unregulated products.
Need a refresh on your food safety protocols? Check out Cambro’s StoreSafe Store Fresh information on how to keep HACCP best practices consistent in your operation.