What role does personal hygiene play in
WILSON: Food handlers can adulterate food and contribute to
foodborne illness at every stage of the flow of food. Establishments
can minimize the risk of foodborne illness by maintaining well-developed personal hygiene standards.
Effective hand washing is the most important activity food handlers
must engage in to minimize foodborne illness. Hand washing must
• Using the restroom
• Sneezing and coughing
• Touching hair and face
• Taking out the garbage
• Clearing dirty dishes
• Smoking, eating or drinking
• Handling money
• Handling raw meat, poultry or fish
WALLACE: Even though hair and jewelry could become physical
contaminants in food, the greatest risks for foodborne illness are
lack of hand washing and food workers who are ill. An employee
who is experiencing vomiting and/or diarrhea, sore throat with
fever or is jaundiced should not come to work.
Should there be ongoing safety and sanitation
training with staff?
WALLACE: Ongoing training plays a vital role in the prevention of risk
factors associated with foodborne illness. A manager certified in food
safety for a foodservice establishment is a requirement in many states
and highly recommended, if not a requirement. This individual should be
responsible for training and monitoring other staff regarding food safety.
I recommend the person in charge schedule routine inspections
weekly. Scheduling in advance is important to make sure the
inspections get done. Inspections should have the same importance
as ordering food. Someone could be hired to do training, if needed.
Health departments often have listings of food-safety consultants.
WILSON: A proactive self-inspection program is an excellent
supplement to the health code regulations enforced by the
Department of Environmental Health. Training can be accomplished
in a variety of formats, from lectures to demonstrations and from role-playing to videos and DVDs.
Orlin Marcus, CEC, AAC, executive chef at Palo Alto Hills Golf &
Country Club, Palo Alto, Calif., says food safety and sanitation is a
chef’s responsibility all day long. “From the moment I arrive at work,
I practice good sanitation. Before starting my mise en place, I take a
look at the kitchen and my work area. I check my thermometer to see
if it’s registering the correct temperature, and recalibrate if needed.
I prepare the proper sanitation buckets and put them in place. If all
chefs build sanitation into their daily activities and become proactive,
they will become better chefs and build their reputations as chefs who
not only cook great food, but go much further than that. Chefs need
to take responsibility.”
Is it important to use third-party cleaners?
WILSON: Cleaning the foodservice establishment consistently is
of vital importance to food safety. Cleaning is divided into food-contact surfaces and non-food-contact surfaces. Cleaning can be
accomplished in-house or assigned to a third-party professional
cleaning service. Regardless of which service you choose, you will
benefit from having a master cleaning schedule.
WALLACE: I am an advocate of the clean-as-you-go method. I think
the use of a third-party cleaner would depend on the operation and
what is being cleaned. Is the operation open seven days a week?
Eighteen hours a day? Is there a large volume of business? It might
be difficult to clean behind cooking equipment, for example, during
regular business hours.
Third-party cleaners may be needed to clean floors, walls, hoods
and large cooking equipment. Make sure the cleaning company
has a good reputation and that the cleaning does not create the
potential for cross contamination of foods.
Rob Benes is a food writer and former editor of Chef
and Chef Educator Today.
• Food & Drug Administration, www.fda.gov
• Mr. Food Safety®, www.mrfoodsafety.com
• National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, www.servsafe.com
• Partnership for Food Safety Education, www.fightbac.org
• U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, www.foodsafety.gov