Safety in School Nutrition Programs

Despite different backgrounds, life experiences and age, a common educational experience exists – school foodservice. Whether a student eats in the lunchroom, classroom or simply stops by a grab-and-go kiosk, safety for students is top of mind this fall.

Changing to distance or hybrid learning has changed the way schools provide meals to students, too. Depending on state-by-state regulations, many schools across the nation have not fully returned to in-person instruction. Some schools are providing both to-go bag lunches for home and meals for classrooms. While there are many variables to how schools are managing this, one thing is for sure: School lunches are very important for many students.

Each day, 30 million students are served by the National School Lunch Program, many of whom rely on this offering as a means for nutritious, healthy food.

Automated Labeling for School Meal Programs

This year it is much harder to maintain safety standards with a traditional lunchroom format of service. Schools have adapted by mobilizing staff to bring lunches to classrooms or team up with bus drivers on their routes to deliver to students at home. This delivery style lunch continues coverage, but also increases the importance of proper labeling. Allergies, dietary restrictions and nutrition regulations must continue to be considered – printing these crucial pieces of information clearly on labels makes assessment easy and ensures a safe meal for every student.

Utilizing Clear Labeling for Prep & Food Packaging

Operators are also still focused on serving healthy student meals while taking food allergies and sensitivities into consideration. Changing dietary needs and regulations, compounded with allergies, means school foodservice operators are hypersensitive when it comes to protecting students. The DateCodeGenie® system prints labels for grab-and-go, prep, allergens and more at the touch of a button – and can be customized for your school’s unique needs. Meals can even be individually labeled with student names to ensure safety and prevent mix-ups. Plus, this intuitive system can be controlled from a centralized district or campus location to streamline and save time. Labeling becomes easy, safe and efficient so that you can focus on keeping students safe.

With the Date Code Genie®, school foodservice operators can:
  • Quick-print labels for frequently prepped items
  • Label entire meals or individual portions made for grab-and-go
  • Easily customize labels with school logo, branding and even student names
  • Display ingredients, allergens & nutrition information clearly on labels
  • Control multiple district schools in one place

Multiple label adhesives are available, including a tamper-evident style that assures delivered meals have not been compromised. Date Code Genie systems provide benefits to school foodservice operations both immediately and well into the future.

Visit our website and speak with your Imperial Dade representative about purchasing a Date Code Genie for your school or other foodservice operation.

Innovative Restaurant Tech Takes “Contactless” to a New Level

By Laura Craven

Many technologies have been around for years including online ordering apps, digital wallets, QR codes, and geotargeted digital marketing. However, the new requirements for contactless experiences, health monitoring, and other challenges related to the COVID-19 crisis have created opportunities for innovative platforms to help restaurants reach more customers, sell more food and beverage, and adhere to new requirements.  

Adoption of restaurant technology has been accelerated by the need to adapt and survive in today’s world.

“Restaurants are an important part of communities and the fabric of society. They are going through a hard time and tech companies and the broader ecosystem need to support them through it. ”

Ray Reddy, CEO of Ritual

Imagine being able to pay your check by simply smiling at your mobile phone. In this recent article published by Deigo Coquillat, the fusion of digital wallets and facial recognition is explored.

Technology can also help streamline activities, allowing for labor to be reallocated to other tasks. With labor averaging about 30% of a restaurant’s expenses, any opportunity to offset the cost of new expenses such as higher-quality packaging, managing curbside pick-ups, or frequent cleaning and disinfecting is critical.

Jennifer Marston asked the leaders of 8 restaurant tech companies about their philosophy in bringing new tools to the industry. She summed up their answers in her latest article in The Spoon. Concepts ranging from loyalty programs, staff health checks, and guest data management are discussed.

“Best in class hospitality tech platforms enable operators to offering experiences that meet changed guest expectations around health and safety, while helping them market to guests in a personalized manner.”

Jennifer Marston, The Spoon

Taking contactless experiences to a new level includes self-pouring beverage dispensers that are activated by scanning a QR code with a mobile device. Nancy Luna writes about Coca-Cola’s Freestyle Machines in Nation’s Restaurant News and explains the latest in sanitary self-serve beer taps and cloud-based menu options.  

“The idea is to be safe, seamless and fun.”

Michael Conner, Chief Architect of Coca-Cola Freestyle

New restaurant technology will continue to emerge and if those platforms improve guest experience, solve problems, and help operators succeed they will be valuable additions to the marketplace.

Versatile and Cost-Effective, Labels Have Been Used for Thousands of Years

Back in the 1930s, Stan Avery was frustrated with the messy process of applying glue to labels at the point of application. He created the self-adhesive label and ignited an entire industry.

Of course, labels go back a long time before Mr. Avery. Product identification was around in the days of Egypt’s King Tutankhamen. In fact, King Tut was buried with a collection of wine, the vessels all inscribed with information related to the contents. In the early 1700s, a French monk, Pierre Perignon, used handwritten parchment paper labels tied to a bottle of wine to maintain inventory. Fast forward to 1798 when Bavarian inventor Alois Senefelder invented lithography. Paper labels, mostly for wine and beer at that time, could now be mass produced. Drug labels were next on the timeline, developed in the mid-19th century, and included instructions and safety warnings. This was about the same time that the gummed postage stamp was created.

Today, labels are made from a variety of materials and adhesives and are used for a plethora of applications. They come in every shape, every color, and customization is a breeze. For small jobs you can even print them at home using label stock from, you guessed it, Avery brand products.

Here are 10 uses for labels in foodservice, beyond basic product identification.

  1. Tamper-evident labels for food and beverage packaging
  2. Coupons for repeat sales
  3. Tracking food safety and freshness information
  4. Merchandising for increased sales
  5. Branding on bags, cups, and containers
  6. Fastening bags and boxes
  7. Displaying special dietary attributes
  8. Sharing cooking and reheating instructions
  9. Decorating kids’ cups and containers
  10. Holiday greetings and promotions

For more information on labels for foodservice from top manufacturers, including Bollin Label Systems, please contact Imperial Dade. Visit http://www.ImperialDade.com for a location near you.

Warewashing, An Important Part of your Kitchen Sanitation Program

By Laura Craven

An effective warewashing program can ensure kitchenware cleanliness, enhance guest satisfaction, and save money. For this edition of The Expert Interview, I spoke to my colleague Angel Rodriguez. As a Regional Director of Chemical Sales at Imperial Dade, Angel oversees the Environmental Service Program. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Angel has a wealth of knowledge on the topic.

LC: What exactly is warewashing?

AR: Warewashing is the term associated with cleaning and sanitizing any kitchenware used in the preparation, serving, or storing of food. This would include pots and pans, cutlery, glasses, serving pans, and trays. Warewashing can be done by machine or manually. This process is a key factor in ensuring that a commercial kitchen provides a clean and safe dining experience for their customers.

LC: You mentioned cleaning and sanitizing. Can you explain the difference?

AR: Great question! Cleaning removes food and other debris from the surface of an item, such as a plate. Sanitizing is the next step. Sanitizing kills the microorganisms and germs on the cleaned surface, making it safe for food contact.

LC: I think we all have an understanding of manual warewashing. It’s what we do at home, correct?

AR: Yes, but in a commercial environment there are specific steps and regulations. At home you may wash a plate with retail detergent, dry it, and put it away. In a restaurant you must wash the plate with a commercial-grade detergent, rinse, and then sanitize in water that contains 200 parts per million of sanitizer. That last step is the one that causes the most challenges. For example, if the water is too hot, the sanitizer will not be maintained at the appropriate level.

LC: And if that happens, is the sanitizing step compromised?

AR: Yes, and if a health inspector performs a test, it will result in a violation. It is really important to have a proper 3-compartment sink system, use the correct products and follow procedures.

LC: Does using a dish machine make the process easier for the operator?

AR: Commercial dish machines require less labor and, especially in large establishments, are much more efficient than manual washing. But there are still procedures and maintenance that need to be performed.

AR: First, the operator must consider the best type of machine. There are many sizes and configuration ranging from a small under-counter model, which would be appropriate in a bar area or small café, to a large conveyor model used in a hotel. These machines operate at high or low temperatures. Low temperature machines are less expensive and more energy efficient, but require more chemicals. There are trade-offs that need to be analyzed.  Every situation is unique. This is why it is important for operators to work with an experienced supplier, one that will take the time to determine the best system for their needs.

LC: Okay, once the correct equipment is chosen and installed, what are the steps to make sure the program runs smoothly.

AR: Scheduled preventative maintenance is crucial. A technician will change chemical lines, squeeze tubes, and dilution tips to make sure that the proper amount of detergent and chemicals are being used by the machine. These items can wear out, and if neglected can shut down the system. This can cause a major halt to a kitchen while waiting for an emergency service call.

ID_ESP_restaurant

AR: Using the right detergents and chemicals for the machine type is another important factor. The warewashing system components operate together so substituting or leaving out products will cause problems, can result in health code violations, or worse, it can make people sick.

LC: Sounds like there is a lot more to a warewashing program than simply washing dishes.

AR: It is a very important process in a kitchen sanitation program, however when set up and maintained correctly, it will free up kitchen staff and managers to focus on their menu and their guests’ satisfaction.

LC: Thanks, Angel!

Angel Rodriguez, as well as Imperial Dade’s team of Chemical Managers, are available to consult with foodservice operators on warewashing systems. Angel can be reached at arodriguez@imperialdade.com.

 

Restaurants, Consider Switching to Linen-Replacement Napkins for a More Sanitary Option

By Laura Craven

Linen napkins have long been considered a necessity by many restaurants. However, with heightened concerns about sanitation, now is a good time to consider linen-replacements.

With the latest in paper-making technology, linen-replacement napkins are practical, economical, and can support an upscale brand image. Here are a few things to consider when choosing between linen and paper linen-replacement napkins.

Why Linen-replacement Napkins

  • Linen-replacement napkins are sanitary and require less handling before use by the guest.
  • Linen-replacement napkins are perfect for off-premise applications and can be included in upscale wrapped cutlery kits.
  • Good quality linen-replacement napkins are about $0.04 – $.0.06 each.
  • Linen-replacement napkins are available in many styles, sizes, colors, and patterns. They can also be printed and embossed to create branding opportunities for restaurants.
  • Linen-replacement napkins are very absorbent and soft. One napkin typically lasts an entire meal.

 

Why Not Linen Napkins

  • Linen napkin rentals can range from $0.75 on the low end to over $3 on the high end. Additional costs include pick-up and delivery fees, laundering, storage bags, and replacement for lost or damaged napkins.
  • Linen napkins are typically handled by many people between the time they are laundered, transported, folded or rolled, and placed on the dining table. This creates many opportunities for contamination.
  • Linen napkins are treated with chemicals during laundering, which reduce their absorbency over time and make them rough to the touch. This results in customers requesting additional napkins, often paper, to wipe their hands and clean up spills.
  • Linen napkins are stored in bags or totes after use along with food particles, grease, and other debris from the dining tables. This creates an unsanitary environment attracting insects and rodents.
  • Linen napkins are stored and laundered with other linen items including table cloths, uniforms, and towels all of which can introduce contaminants to the load.
  • Linen napkins have a higher carbon footprint than paper when you factor in fabric manufacturing, napkin manufacturing, continuous transportation, laundering, plastic wrapping, and ultimate disposal.

To learn more about the many linen-replacement options available, contact your Imperial Dade Sales Consultant. For a location near you, visit our website.

 

Restaurant Reopening Guidelines

By Vickie Holland

On a Zoom call last weekend my friends were talking about what they miss most during the “Stay at Home” order. The #1 answer was going to a restaurant! Thankfully most of the restaurants in our area have pivoted to curbside pick-up but that doesn’t take the place of sitting down in a beautiful restaurant while someone brings you a plate of delicious grilled red snapper on a bed of quinoa topped with a tropical fruit salsa. Or an order of jerk chicken wings (flats only) well done.

Once the “Stay at Home” order has been lifted, is your restaurant ready for customers? The National Restaurant Association has published this handy comprehensive reopening guide to help you get ready. Take the time to read it carefully. In addition, Imperial Dade’s HyProtection Zone consultation is available. This complimentary service includes a site survey, product recommendations, and review of best practices addressing disinfection and hygiene.

Here are our 10 favorite reopening guidelines:

  1. Check in with all employees’ well-being. They may have lost a loved one or experienced anxiety, loneliness or depression during quarantine.
  2. Instruct sick employees to stay home. Prescreen employees on arrival for signs of COVID-19 by taking their temperature.
  3. Enforce strict hand hygiene. Prompt reminders with posters on best practices.
  4. Develop a strong SOP for cleaning and sanitizing surfaces. Check that your disinfectant is EPA registered and appropriate for use against SARS-CoV-2.
  5. Train employees on the new, more detailed disinfecting and sanitizing practices.
  6. Follow the 4 steps of Food Safety: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill
  7. Consider rolling silverware and eliminate table presets.
  8. Provide hand sanitizer for customers and employees.
  9. Use single-service gloves, deli tissue or suitable utensils.
  10. Consider a reservation only business model to better space diners.

Employees should be aware of the steps you have made to protect them from COVID-19. Ask employees for feedback on these changes and listen to suggestions. Employees often have creative solutions.

For more information on restaurant reopening guidelines, disinfectants, or COVID-19 prevention in the workplace contact your local branch today and ask to speak to a chemical specialist. Visit www.imperialdade.com/locations to find a location near you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grocery Shopping with Food Safety in Mind

By Laura Craven

Good food safety practices for your home include grocery shopping and safe storage of food. These steps will require extra time but they are worth following to ensure you only bring fresh, safe food into your kitchen.

  • Before you go to the store, make a list with the non-perishables first. If you know your store’s layout, organize the list by aisles and then list the perimeter departments with dairy and meat last.
  • Use cart wipes if available or bring your own and wipe all touch points including the handle and cup holder. If using a hand-basket, wipe the handles.
  • Check expiration dates or “packaged on” dates and select the freshest items available.
  • When selecting packaged produce, inspect the contents to ensure there is no mold. If the container is clear, be sure to check the bottom.
  • When selecting loose produce, avoid pieces with dents, bruises, or discolored spots. A tip to tell if fruit is fresh – a fresh piece of fruit will weigh more than a not-so-fresh piece.
  • The nose knows! If any food has a bad or unusual smell that is an indication of spoilage.
  • Pick up chilled or frozen items last and leave a corner of your cart available for meat. Don’t stack meat, fish, or poultry on top of other grocery items. This helps avoid cross-contamination.
  • Use a tissue or paper towel to open cooler doors or self-serve bins.
  • Reusable tote bags used to carry food can harbor bacteria. Opt for a clean grocery bag each time.
  • Use hand sanitizer after paying at check out and, once you are home, wash your hands before unloading your grocery bags.
  • Put perishable items in the refrigerator as soon as possible.
  • Store milk and eggs inside the refrigerator compartment, not in the door which is the warmest area.
  • Place meat, poultry, and fish in plastic bags to prevent leaks and store on a bottom shelf of your refrigerator or freezer. No need to rinse.
  • Rinse fruits and veggies under running water before storing.
  • Wipe off cans and cartons before storing. This includes the tops of cans, where you will puncture with a can opener, and the area around the opening of cartons.

This is part 3 in a series of blogs dedicated to sharing food-safety best practices for your home from your friends at Imperial Dade

Food Safety Tips for Leftovers

By Laura Craven

Whether cooking at home or ordering take-out, we often find we have leftovers. And, today with people cooking in large batches while home-bound, this is more likely. To ensure leftovers are safe to eat, and enjoyable, it’s important to pay attention to food safety rules. Make sure food is cooked to a safe temperature, refrigerate or freeze leftovers quickly, and follow reheating best practices. This will help prevent foodborne illness from improper procedures.

The first step is to prepare and cook food safely and be sure to meet the minimum internal temperature guidelines by using a food thermometer. Red meats including beef, pork, lamb, and veal should reach 145° F before removing food from the heat source. Allow to rest for 3 minutes before slicing or serving. Ground meats require a higher internal temperature of 160° F to prevent foodborne illness. The process of grinding can introduce bacteria, so the higher cooking temperature is important. Cook poultry to an internal temperature of 165° F.

The next step is to keep food out of the Danger Zone. Bacteria grows at a rapid rate when food is between 40° F and 140°F.

Keep your hot dishes above the Danger Zone until ready to cool and refrigerate or freeze the leftovers. Always cool and store food within 2 hours of cooking or 1 hour if left out in a hot environment such as an outdoor meal during summer months.

Cold food should be kept at 40° F or below while serving. Nest bowls in larger bows of ice or only plate servings as needed and keep the rest of the food in the refrigerator. Store and refrigerate within 2 hours of being at room temperature.

When ready to store, cool food rapidly to prevent bacterial growth while the temperature passes through the Danger Zone. Divide large batches into shallow containers which will allow quicker cooling. Using an ice paddle (commercial and home-styles are available) or placing a container of the hot food into an ice bath will be effective. Do not put a hot glass or ceramic cooking dish or pan into cold water as it will shatter.  For large pieces of meat such as roasts, turkeys, or ham, slice into smaller parts to cool. Do not put a large batch of steaming hot food into your refrigerator as it will warm up the entire compartment and could lead to other food spoiling.

When its time to store leftovers either cooked at home or ordered from a restaurant, wrap each type of food separately in airtight packaging or seal into storage containers with a tight lid-fit. This helps keep bacteria out and will prevent the mingling of odors. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and in the freezer for 3-4 months. Label your containers or storage bags with the contents and date stored. And, when in doubt, throw it out!

When it’s time to thaw frozen leftovers do so safely. Thaw in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. If using the cold-water method, soak the food in an airtight and leak-proof container or bag in cold water just until thawed. When using a microwave, make sure the food reaches 165° F. Do not thaw food on the counter as this may allow the food to stay within the Danger Zone for too long. After thawing the food, it should be heated and eaten within 3-4 days.

Reheating leftovers requires safety practices as well. It is safe to reheat from a frozen state in a sauce-pan, oven, or microwave to the serving temperature of 165° F. When using a microwave, be sure to cover loosely and rotate to ensure even heating and allow resting time. If you end up with a second round of leftovers, it is safe to refreeze and follow the same safe procedures for thawing and reheating again.

This is part 2 in a series of blogs dedicated to sharing food-safety best practices for your home from your friends at Imperial Dade

 

 

 

 

 

Tamper-Evident Packaging & Supplies

By Jennifer Jaworski

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt nationally in the foodservice industry. For restaurants to continue to serve their customers safely and comply with local restrictions, they may offer take-out and delivery service.

Everyone is very concerned about health and safety today. By using tamper-evident food packaging, especially for delivery orders, you are expressing the same level of concern. Remember, food safety is a priority.

Here are options to help tamper-proof your restaurant’s take-out and delivery program.

Tamper-Evident Containers

tamper-evident container

  • Visual confirmation that the package has been properly sealed
  • Leak-resistant lid closure
  • Tamper-resistant tear-strip opening

 

Tamper-Evident Cutlery Kits  Cutlery Kit

  • Various kits available including choice of cutlery, napkins, and condiments
  • Individually wrapped and sanitary

 

 

Tamper-Evident Labels

label2

  • Confirms food packaging has not been opened 
  • Includes one or more safety indicators to easily recognize if the seal has been broken
  • Can be used on containers, boxes, and bags

 

Tamper-Evident Bags tamperevidentbag

  • Wide openings make bags easy to load
  • Adhesive strip fastens bag tightly
  • Helps prevent contamination
  • Allows for food to be securely transported

 

Customers will appreciate your attention to detail and care in packaging their order. When they know they can trust your food safety procedures, they’re more likely to order again in the future.

For a to-go packaging consultation, visit http://www.ImperialDade.com and contact the location nearest your restaurant.