Monthly Archives: December 2013

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.

2014 For Restaurants Will Include…

Restaurants are finding themselves in a transitional period at this time of year, as the holidays are over and the cold weather is staying. For the transition from 2013 to 2014, we even have two new adjustments to make. Sriracha and bananas just might disappear from shelves if trends don’t change, for one.

The recession is largely over, yet CNBC reports that restaurant sales have been stagnant, as consumers are still in a recession mindset; no need to spend money when you go out when you can just have a nice dinner at home for cheaper. While actual receipts have gone up very slightly, the amount of visits are stagnant.

These trends, deduced by The NPD Group, might just be the ticket to bringing in more customers in 2014.

  • The Improving Economy
    By sheer virtue of the economy getting better and better, people will have more money they can expend on trips to restaurants.
  • Sub Shops, Gourmet Coffee and Donuts, Fast-Casual
    These food locations might just be on the rise for sales, given how they’ve increased in recent years.
  • Protein Prices
    Beef will get harder, scarcer, and costlier, while chicken will drop in price and become more prominent.
  • Demographic Shifts
    Given an ever-changing set of demographics, Asian and Mexican populations will increase the interest in certain dishes, ranging from fruits to noodles.
  • Older Generations
    Baby boomers and seniors stay consistent, if not increasing, in their attendance to restaurants.
  • Differing Discounts
    Instead of physical coupons, discounts and promotions will be changing in the face of technology.
  • Mobile Technology
    Smart phones, tablets, and more are changing the face of restaurants; customers are interacting less with each other and more with their devices, and some restaurants are taking the waiter and waitress out of the equation and swapping in tablets for ordering.
  • Healthier Options
    Due to a variety of factors, such as a the nutritional needs of the older set, the tradition for fresh food for immigrant sets, and the desire for healthier eating from younger sets, healthy food will be on the rise.
  • Fine-Dining
    Accompanying the recession’s end is a recovery of fine dining sales.
  • New Concepts
    New styles and types of restaurants will make their debut this year.

Are you ready to tackle the challenges and pressures of 2014 at your restaurant? Making sure you have the freshest foods while accepting and endearing yourselves to both the older crowd and the younger, more technologically-endearing crew will make sure your restaurant stays at the forefront of change. If you’re a fine-dining establishment or even just a good sub, donut, or coffee shop, you might just be lucky enough to ride a trend that’s headed your way.

Food Of The Feast: Kwanzaa

Woman dressed in African costume.
The seven days of Kwanzaa celebrates “Nguzo Saba”, or the seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

The Karamu feast can actually be pretty modular, with dishes from Africa suggested. Yams, sesame seeds, collard greens and hot peppers were all ingredients brought to America from Africa are suggested for inclusion with the meal.

Karamu is celebrated on December 31st, bringing it on the same day as many New Year’s Eve parties. Betty Crocker suggests

  • hot spiced cider
  • green chile corn fritters
  • squash and bean soup
  • Moroccan chicken with olives
  • slow cooker jambalaya
  • hot and spicy greens
  • African squash and yams
  • black bean salad
  • coriander bread
  • cheese-garlic biscuits
  • banana-coconut bake
  • butter-rum pound cake

Additionally, an important part of Karamu is the pouring of libations. This pouring is to honor ancestors.

Kwanzaa does not actively replace any other holiday, and offers a chance to look into more historic African culture and society. Celebrating Karamu would give one a good taste of food from a whole continent that might not be readily seen otherwise.

While not largely celebrated in America, it does have its fans, and it can be celebrated by all. You may actually feature a few of the dishes indicative of Kwanzaa on your menu; possibly highlighting these for the week of Kwanzaa could allow you to enjoy the holiday in your restaurant with minimal effort.

If it fits your restaurant’s theme, you may even want to try a few of the menu items out during this time to see how they’d work on a longer-term menu. Items such as butter-rum pound cake and banana-coconut bake could easily be standards on a dessert menu, while cheddar garlic biscuits could be a standard side. Hot spiced cider might even work as a warm drink during the colder months.

If you wish to decorate for the holiday, remember the the iconic Kwanzaa colors are green, black, and red, and be respectful.