In our industry, ensuring the food safety of our facilities we visit is imperative. From farm to fork, every step of the food production process must adhere to strict good manufacturing practice guidelines to prevent food-borne illness and allergic reactions. Maintaining a high level of cleanliness and organization is paramount in food preparation and manufacturing facilities and high standards of personal hygiene is required! And as it pertains to allergen safety, these factors contribute greatly to the lives of those born with food allergens. To close out #foodsafetyweek, we will run through some of the industry’s most basic tips for keeping a safe and healthy environment for patrons.
- Train and Educate Your Employees:
Proper training and education are crucial to maintaining food allergy and food safety standards. Make sure all employees, especially food handlers, are well-trained in food safety protocols. Regularly conduct training sessions and provide written materials to reinforce knowledge and ensure everyone stays up to date with best practices. These are all things covered in our AllerTrain Suite of Courses, the first ANAB accredited training courses of their type and still today the industry leader. The majority of our AllerTrain® courses are ANAB-accredited and meet state-specific training mandates. Through these courses, MenuTrinfo® has trained over 100,000 participants internationally.
2. Instill and Enforce Proper Hygiene:
Instilling a high level of personal hygiene for your employees is crucial, especially for food handlers. As a facility, you should emphasize the importance of frequent handwashing and require it, ensure clean uniforms are worn, and personal protective equipment such as clean disposable gloves and clothing are donned – these are all ways to increase hygiene in your workplace. In a post Covid-19 world, it is equally important to make sure those with illnesses are not showing up and handling food unless they are healthy.
3. Prevent Cross-Contamination and Cross-Contact:
Cross-contamination is one of the leading causes of food-borne illnesses. Cross-contact pertains to allergens and is a major reason for food allergy reactions from prepared or manufactured food. The consequences can be disastrous. Implementing measures to prevent allergen cross-contact at every stage of the production process is key – this may mean that you have separate stations entirely.
Many of our kitchen clients who have been Certified Free From any or all the nine major allergens often have dedicated stations for food that is allergy-free. This will ensure that your patrons with food allergies feel safe knowing they can dine at your facility.
4. Regularly Inspect and Maintain Equipment:
Regular inspections and maintenance of equipment are vital for ensuring food safety. Faulty or improperly functioning equipment can jeopardize both quality and safety of the food you serve. Promptly repair or replace any faulty equipment to prevent potential hazards such as metal generation or issues that could impact the cleaning of the equipment food contact surfaces.
5. Conduct Regular Audits and Third-Party Inspections:
While internal audits are often practiced, it is third-party inspections that can provide an objective assessment of your food safety system and allergen control program. As we mentioned before, many of our AllerTrain courses, along with our Certified Free From™(CFF)– Allergens program are all accredited. Certified Free From™ Allergens was started to provide third-party audits to dining areas and food manufacturing facilities, focusing specifically on allergen control programs. CFF is accredited, and compliant against rigorous International Standards. It eliminates allergen soft claims a kitchen or manufacturer might make or place on their packaging, and consumers can see a valid CFF seal and have more trust in their purchases.
With food allergies affecting over 32 million people in the United States, there is a growing urgency for Certified Free From and other Allergy-Food Safety programs to expand where people are dining, which may include colleges and universities, and a bigger food safety risk level where consumers are purchasing consumer-packaged goods (CPGs) from manufacturers around the world. Contact MenuTrinfo to help you certify your CPG products and facility. Our team is ready to help with a robust lineup of food safety services.
Prioritizing and protecting the livelihoods of your customers is of utmost importance, and MenuTrinfo will help you deliver food safe products with confidence and care to continue protecting lives.