Category Archives: Food Prep

What 62% Of Restaurant Workers Do Could Make Them Sick

It’s the time of year where sickness runs rampant, and for many, that doesn’t prevent people from eating out at restaurants. Even worse, many of your employees may try to not miss a shift, despite being unfit for work due to everything from a runny nose to much more serious sicknesses that might prevent them from keeping their own meals down.

Mother Jones has taken a look at some of the ways illnesses and disease can and do spread at restaurants nationwide, A look at these numbers can show you where you might want to focus your attentions when it comes to staying clean in your kitchen and beyond.

Nearly two-thirds of restaurant workers who handle raw beef aren’t washing their hands afterward”

Touching raw beef and then moving on to other foods allows for the easy spread of E. Coli, especially when going from raw ground beef to cooked dishes. Any customers that eat a dish that’s been contaminated with raw beef are at risk, and beyond that, vegetarians and those who don’t eat beef would not be pleased to find out that raw beef had effectively touched the food they’ve eaten.

About 40 percent of restaurants don’t usually use separate cutting boards for raw chicken”

Raw chicken is particularly prime at spreading salmonella, and cutting carrots, celery, and such right after chicken breasts, thighs, and wings can just expedite illness. Beyond that, disposable gloves can help prevent the spread and keep employee’s hands clean.

Most managers don’t know the safe cooking temperature for chicken”

165 degrees Fahrenheit. Memorize it, write it down, post it on a board in the kitchen. All chicken leaving the kitchen must meet this temperature at the minimum by a thermometer.

“Almost half of chefs don’t use a thermometer to make sure a burger is cooked… and as a result, a bunch of burgers are coming out raw”

Color and feel could be good indicators of how well a hamburger is done, but it’s not the be-all end-all. A burger is undercooked when it is less than 155 degrees Fahrenheit, and when a customer requests a medium-rare one, it’s significantly more likely that a the meal would be in this danger zone.

40 percent of sick food workers didn’t go home because they have no sick leave. Seriously. The cook is vomiting.”

To be blunt, vomiting and diarrhea are instant reasons to be taken off of a shift. Various reasons, such as limited or no sick pay or sick time available to simply not desiring to leave their coworkers without their help. In any case, if a coworker reports they particularly have one of those symptoms, they need to be removed from work. A simple promise that they’ll have a job when they feel better might be all it takes to assure them that it’s important for them to heal at home and not spread illness at work.

Vegetarians aren’t off the hook”

Vegetables still have a particular safe temperature, with 41 degrees Fahrenheit being the highest you’ll want to receive a shipment.

With the new year, you may want to go down your list of safety guidelines and make sure you are following many of these. People are more likely to get sick when their bodies are already weakened by the stress of the holidays and the cold  of the season, so if anything, reviewing these with your staff may ensure you don’t spread any illnesses from your restaurant.

Dumping Grease May Be Bad For Your Health

The health of your pipes, business, and local community, to be precise, could be in danger if you pour grease down the drain.

There’s a litany of things you can do with leftover grease from a kitchen, and many restaurants will end up with an overabundance of it, especially if they frequently fry dishes. The one thing you should never do is dispose of it down the drain, especially when there are other options.

The New York City Department of Environment Protection is urging their citizens to not dump liquified fat, oils, and grease (FOG) down the drain, according to The Huffington Post. When grease goes down the drain, it can cause blockages; notably, London has had issues with “fatbergs” down in the sewers, large chunks of fat that combine and collect debris. The backages, backups, and blockages caused from grease are something they’d like to avoid, as costs of clearing up such messes are more expenses that can be avoided.

The DEP suggests allowing grease to cool and harden before being put into non-recyclable containers in the trash. This allows it to be disposed of at proper waste sites and doesn’t waste otherwise-fine recyclable containers.

If you don’t want to do this, you might want to look at one of these alternative measures in safely removing grease from the equation.

  • Look into local regulations regarding oil disposal; you might be in a location where you need to have a private company come and dispose of oil saved outside. If not, you may want to combine your forces with local businesses that also have to dispose of oil. You can split costs and efforts if you work with nearby businesses.
  • Allow customers that use converted oil in their cars to take it, or even possibly buy it from you. There are cars that have been modified to run on cooking oil, and drivers of them are constantly looking for new sources of the disposable waste.
  • Get as much use out of the oil as you can. After drained, strained and filter the oil, and depending on what had been fried in it (fish proves to be particularly tricky), you might be able to get a few more frying trips out of it.

If you don’t dispose of fats, oils, and grease appropriately, you may be setting yourself up for fines alongside the general trouble for your community and business.

Beyond the appropriate ways of disposing of the fats, oils, and grease, you may just generally want to look into alternate ways to make sure you don’t even need to dispose of much. Baking, steaming, and other ways to cooking may prove to be more heart-healthy, less expensive in production costs, and don’t have the problems associated for the environment as fats, oil, and grease do.

Do you have any plans or alternatives to using these slick cooking materials in your restaurant?

The Halloween Drink Guide

halloween drink guide
Halloween is on the way, and you’re likely rocking the celebrations all month long. From featuring ghoulish treats and dishes on the menu all month long to running promotions and celebrations, this month leading up to the holiday and festivities can be a chance for creativity in the kitchen. You can try to be a bit creative with your drinks as well, offering limited run, Halloween-themed drinks in your restaurant. What do you need to do to take advantage of alcohol and liquor sales in your restaurant?

Stock up on Fall Seasonal Beers

It’s not just that local Atlanta beers are apparently the only beer in the horror-themed The Walking Dead, with Terrapin, Jailhouse, and SweetWater making appearances in the season four premiere; there’s a host of fall-focused beers that work perfectly for your restaurant (and if you want to do an “As Seen Next To The Shambling Corpses of Zombies On The Walking Dead” promotion, all the better for entertainment sake). Check with your beer distributors to see what pumpkin flavored, fall themed, and hearty drinks you have available to you for the colder months.

Get Creative with Vodka, Whiskey, Rum, Tequila, and More

There’s a special world inside each bottle of vodka you stock, and it’s one that brings out best and brightest flavors of your favorite candies. Serious Eats has a guide to infusing vodka with the flavors (which is a good usage of mason jars you may want to stock up on). The guideline is largely simple and up for experimentation; pour your liquor into a container, toss a few candies that may pair well with it in, and let it sit until the flavors are dissolved into the mixture, adding into it. Once the mass of candy has dissolved, take out the solid remains, filter, and have some Milky Ways-infused rum or Hot Tamales-infused vodka.

Make a Smoldering Cauldron with Dry Ice

Restaurants can get a bit creative with dry ice, giving the illusion of smoke and steam coming off of a fresh bowl of drinks. Making a punch for all ages (or going alcoholic for adult crowds) can be a good start, and safely adding dry ice to the concoction can add a memorable effect for drinkers. Make sure to handle the dry ice carefully, using tongs and gloves; the danger of dry ice comes from the intense cold of the bricks. Still, don’t let anyone ingest dry ice or touch it directly.

Creepy Crawly Surprises

Add some gummy worms to drinks and cocktails; with a bit of worm sticking out of a tumbler, customers can use it both as a swizzle stick and as a little treat at the end of the drink. Frozen gummy candies can also work as substitute ice cubes, with little chance to melt. It’ll put a whole new meaning to “drinking the worm” when it comes to tequila!

Get creative and scary with the holidays, just remember to keep it safe as well.