Food Safety at Home

By Laura Craven

Americans are staying home and cooking for themselves these days. For some people, cooking provides an enjoyable and even adventurous way to spend time with their families. For others, the kitchen is unknown territory and they must find instructions on YouTube before making mac and cheese. No matter your level of culinary skill, there is one aspect of home cooking that everyone should bone up on and that is food safety.

There are four simple steps to follow and practice food safety at home.

  1. CLEAN – Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces often
  • Wash your hands with soap and water, including the back of your hands, wrists, and under your fingernails, for 20 seconds. Wash before and after handling raw food and before serving.
  • Wash cutting boards, mixing bowls, dishes, and utensils with hot water and dish detergent after each use. Clean counters often using kitchen sanitizer or hot, soapy water, especially after prepping raw food.
  • Launder dish cloths in hot water and use fresh cloths between tasks.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables under running water and dry with a paper towel or clean dish cloth.
  • Do not wash meat, poultry, eggs, or pre-washed produce.
  1. SEPARATE – Do not cross contaminate
  • When shopping, separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other groceries in your cart. Make sure these items are bagged separately at check out.
  • Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood well-wrapped and separated from other items in your refrigerator or freezer.
  • Store eggs in the original container in the main refrigerator compartment, not the door.
  • Use different cutting boards for produce and raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Use separate plates, bowls, and utensils for raw and cooked food.
  1. COOK – Cook food to the right temperature
  • Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature is high enough to kill germs that can make people sick.
  • Use a food thermometer to be sure your food is cooked thoroughly. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the food and not touching the bone.
  • Follow the minimum cooking temperatures listed on the thermometer or on this chart.
  • Keep food hot (140° F or above) after cooking. Bacteria can start to multiply when food falls below 140° F.
  • When using a microwave, be sure to follow directions to ensure the food is thoroughly cooked. If instructions include a standing time after cooking, allow the food to rest. This enables the heat to spread evenly.
  1. CHILL – Refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours
  • Bacteria that causes food poisoning multiplies quickest between 40° F and 140° F, this is referred to as the Danger Zone.
  • Make sure your refrigerator is set at 40° F or below and your freezer at 0° F or below. Check using an appliance thermometer.
  • Leftovers should be placed in shallow containers to allow for quicker cooling, especially large batches of hot sauces and soups, and placed in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Do not thaw or marinate food on the counter. Keep food in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
  • The door is the warmest area of the refrigerator. Use those shelves for items such as water, soda, and condiments. Do not store milk in the door.
  • Write the date of any stored leftovers on the bag or container and follow a food storage time chart. When in doubt, throw it out!

 

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

Take Back the Lunch Break

When is the last time you took a lunch break? I’m talking a real lunch break, not eating yogurt at your desk. If you’re like many people, it probably was a while ago.

A 2017 study revealed that 20% of North American workers do not feel empowered to take a lunch break away from their desks. That number increases to 37% for Millennials. Many feel they will be judged as not hard working if they do. However, the same study found that 90% people that enjoy a lunch break away from their desks report feeling refreshed and more productive when they return. 81% of workers who take lunch breaks every day have a strong desire to be an active member of their company. In summary, those who lunch are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and feel valued by their employer.

With this information in mind, our supplier partners at Tork, an Essity brand and the maker of high- quality towel, tissue, and napkin products established the third Friday in June as National Take Back the Lunch Break Day. This year, that day falls on June 21. To spread the word, Tork has partnered with Joy Bauer, a leading health authority and TV personality. Joy will be helping raise awareness and educating consumers about the mental and physical benefits of taking a break and enjoying a healthy meal away from the office.

Tork has also teamed up with fast casual restaurants including Honey Grow, Dos Toros, Shake Shack, and Potbelly, just to name a few, to encourage their patrons to come out for lunch on June 21 and share their experiences on social media using the hashtag #TakeBackLunch. Many restaurants across the country will be offering special lunch deals and creating fun experiences for their customers. For restaurants that would like to participate and activate a promotional campaign, please visit https://www.torkusa.com/brand/torktakesback/2019tbtlb for more information and downloads.

To encourage employees and their colleagues to take the pledge to leave their desk during lunch, Tork has announced a contest for employees to win a free lunch for their office on National Take Back the Lunch Break Day on June 21. To enter the contest and take the pledge, please visit TorkUSA.com/TBTLB.

The Imperial Dade marketing team will be going out for lunch on June 21. What do you say? Want to join us? You’ll find us @ImperialDade #TakeBackLunch!

Expert Interview – Online Reputation Management

A business’ reputation is a valuable asset, one that requires an owner’s full attention. In today’s online world, where opinions are a click away, this is even more important. In 2018, a reported 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends. 60% say negative reviews turn them away and 49% say they only consider businesses with at least a 4-star review. These statistics reinforce the need for online reputation management. Wanting to learn more, I met with Ali Schwartz, an expert from Yelp, at Birch Coffee in Manhattan.

LC: What is your role at Yelp?

AS: I’m the Local Business Partner on the Business Outreach Team. My main focus is to educate local business owners on Yelp’s available tools. I provide trainings for local business organizations, chapters and alliances to share tips and tricks when navigating Yelp as a business owner.

LC: How long have you been doing this?

AS: I started at Yelp 4 years ago, originally part of Yelp’s Local Sales team, consulting businesses about their advertising options. After more than 2 years there, I worked as a Marketing Assistant for a year and then made the transition to our Business Outreach team last year.

LC: What do you enjoy most about your job?

AS: Business owners are each living out their own unique version of the American dream, it’s very inspiring! This role allows me to help a group of people that continuously surprise, delight and inspire me every day.

LC: Please explain “online reputation management.”

AS: It’s having a strategy in place to monitor what people are saying about you and your business on the Internet and then taking the resources provided like metrics, reviews, etc., and making your business better as a result.

LC: Why it is important for businesses to have a strategy to manage their reputations?

AS: Taking the time to engage with customers online is so important. Not only does it show great customer service, but you have the power to monetize from having the right strategy in place. Reviews, social media, e-commerce, it’s all part of the present and certainly part of our future. Think of it this way, if a customer walked into your store and started talking about your product, good or bad, you’d answer them, chat with them, maybe try to get their business. This same mentality should be implemented for your online customers as they are no different than your offline customers.

LC: What steps should a business owner take to start managing their online reputation?

AS: When it comes to Yelp specifically, a great starting point for business owners is to first log into their Yelp for Business Owners account at https://biz.yelp.com/. This is a totally separate platform, just for business purposes. Take 15 minutes to update everything including hours, ‘about the business’ section, photos, etc. Pro tip: businesses can save time by copying and pasting what may already be on their website! Next, have a strategy in place for reviews. It can be as simple as having a hostess, manager or employee respond to reviews as they come in. Having a plan in place is necessary and important.

If you tried to do the above for every single online platform, it’d take forever! It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the online world. I like to tell businesses to pick 2 to 3 platforms where they’re confident people are taking time out of their day to seek out their specific product or service, and then focus only on those, to avoid spreading their time and energy too thin.

LC: I’ve heard of “fake reviews” being a concern. What does Yelp do to minimize this practice?

AS: Yelp is aware that fake reviews exist in the world of online reviews. Yelp is actually ranked the #1 most trusted review site. This is because Yelp has a software that’s checking the authenticity of each review. This allows us to provide reliable content to consumers as well as protect business owners.

LC: What is the most important tip you can share?

AS: My number one tip for business owners is to hug your haters. The book, Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer, is incredible and dives into how to treat every piece of online feedback as an opportunity to get more business. Highly recommended!

LC: Thanks, Ali.

AS: My pleasure, and thanks for the 5-star coffee!

If you would like to learn more about managing your online reputation, be sure to attend Ali’s seminar 5-star State of Mind at Imperial Dade’s Innovations Expo on May 1. Visit www.ImperialDade.com/Expo for more information.

 

Expert Interview – See Something, Say Something!

Expert Interview – See Something, Say Something!

Every year, 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence. It is estimated an additional 200,000 cases per year are never reported. This is a serious issue that employers need not only be aware of, but should take steps to become prepared.  While visiting Imperial Dade’s PCA Division I spoke to David Murray, a member of our sales team and an expert in helping companies implement workplace safety protocols.

LC:  How long have you been with PCA and what is your current role?

DM: I’ve been with the company for 8 years and I am currently a Senior Account Executive. My job is to help clients better manage their consumable supplies through quantitative and qualitative analysis. My specialties include disinfection programs, infection control, floor care, and electrostatic sprayer technology.

LC: I understand you have another area of expertise and manage a business on the side.

DM: I do. In 2011, I opened an Israeli Self Defense School that teaches a military self-defense and fighting system developed for the Israel Defense Forces. It is derived from a combination of boxing, wrestling, martial arts, along with realistic fight training. In addition to training individuals, we consult with businesses and help them prepare for situations including workplace violence.

LC: How did you become interested in this field?

DM: Personal protection and protecting those who cannot do so for themselves is something I was indoctrinated with early on in life. I have been involved in martial arts and boxing since the age of 5 and have been privileged and humbled to train with some of the world’s best instructors. I saw a growing need for expert consultative services and training and wanted to put my knowledge to work helping others.

LC: Are most businesses prepared to handle emergencies involving violence?

DM: Many businesses have certainly planned and practiced their standard operating procedures, or SOPs, for various workplace safety components such as fires, natural disasters, communication systems going down, and sexual harassment to name a few. Consider workplace safety the big picture and workplace violence one component of it. Unfortunately most businesses have a false sense of confidence in dealing with workplace violence such as unruly personnel, active shooters, and terrorism.

LC: Why is that?

DM: There are 3 main reasons I have encountered. First, the task of creating the SOPs is often assigned to someone without the experience to understand modern day threats. This is inherently dangerous and poses potential harm to the staff who entrust their lives to the company’s safety programs.

Second, the person in charge may not possess real life experience with physical and verbal indicators, de-escalation tactics, and other important aspects of dealing with violence.

Third, the SOPs albeit good or bad, rarely are drilled in real time. Instead, managers and staff may be shown a video or handed a checklist. Staff must train to deal with workplace violence, no different than a quarterly fire drill. It is better to be prepared and not need to act than to be unprepared and need to act.

LC: Should all businesses invest in educating themselves about workplace violence and implement a plan to address it?

DM: Yes. Safety is the second largest component of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs. If people do not feel safe at work, they instinctively become less productive which impacts the bottom line. The sooner businesses become educated about this topic the sooner they can restore order to those who have a concern about their personal safety. It can be a tough pill to swallow, but workplace violence is not going to disappear because we disagree with it, hope it will not happen, or believe someone else will handle it.

LC: What steps can businesses take to get started implementing a program and what resources are available?

DM: The first step is to implement a see something, say something policy. No professional assistance should be needed to deploy this mindset. If something seems weird, strange, suspicious, or threatening it is important to bring it to the attention of management and it should not be overlooked. This mindset helps develop situational awareness.

The second step is to bring in a professional to conduct a threat assessment of your facility. They can design a plan that fits your unique needs versus handing you a cookie-cutter program. Some of these professionals include local police, private security firms, consultants, and certified ALICE instructors.  ALICE stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate.

LC: Any additional advice?

DM: Be vigilant; not paranoid. Since the time we could walk we were taught to look both ways before crossing the street. We were not taught to be afraid of crossing the street.

David Murray can be reached at david@pleasecallagain.net. 

Expert Interview – The Power of Electrostatic Cleaning

I met Jeremiah Gray, featured in this month’s Expert Interview, while he was demonstrating a handheld electrostatic sprayer to Imperial Dade’s sales team. This innovative system peaked my interest and I asked him to share the details. Jeremiah is the Cofounder and Chief Operating Officer of EarthSafe Chemical Alternatives.

LC: Tell me about EarthSafe and why you started the company.

JG: EarthSafe entered the cleaning industry 4 years ago. Our goal was to leverage advanced technology to develop innovative and practical solutions for the cleaning industry. We addressed the long-standing challenges in making cleaning protocols more effective at reducing illness and keeping people healthier through touchless disinfection systems that combine electrostatic spraying technology with carefully selected chemistries.

LC: What is electrostatic spraying technology?

JG: Electrostatic spraying is a technology that has been used in industry for over 50 years to more effectively and efficiently apply liquids, such as paints and coatings, to a surface by creating a magnetic attraction between the spray droplets and the surface you want to coat. In industries like automotive manufacturing, vehicle bodies on the assembly line have been painted electrostatically for over 40 years, resulting in an 80% faster time to paint a car and a 50% reduction in paint waste during the process. Given the efficiencies that electrostatics brings to industrial painting, it’s easy to see the benefits that electrostatic spraying would bring to a cleaning industry in dire need of more effective and efficient ways to disinfect and sanitize surfaces.

LC: It is! So how did you take this technology and create a solution for the commercial cleaning industry?

JG: The challenge was in developing a system that delivered the capabilities of industrial electrostatic equipment but was also convenient, easy to use, and affordable enough to be accessible to custodians, housekeepers, and infection prevention specialists across every industry. We addressed that challenge when we launched our line of affordable, battery powered electrostatic sprayers into the market in 2015. Our sprayers are not only compact and portable, but affordable.

LC: How does the sprayer work? For example, when used to clean a hospital room?

JG: To give a basic understanding of how this technology works, consider that all of the objects we interact with on a daily basis in our homes, schools, offices, hospitals, etc. have the ability to build up an electrical charge. This is the reason that a balloon, when rubbed on your hair for a few seconds will stick fast to a wall, or touching a doorknob after rubbing your feet across a wool carpet will often result in a spark. For most metals, plastics, wood and other surfaces the charged surface will most often be negative.

JG: With this understanding, our portable electrostatic spraying technology was designed to spray disinfectant and sanitizing solutions that carry a positive charge and, much like the latex balloon, will magnetically attract to room surfaces. This attraction enables the droplets to not only coat the front side of surfaces, but also bend and wrap around objects to achieve nearly complete 360° coverage. This provides far greater reach into hard to clean spaces than what’s possible with traditional cleaning and sanitation methods. Greater coverage in less time leads to fewer missed spots, and the ability to more proactively and effectively treat surfaces to prevent the spread of infections.

LC: How much faster can a hospital room be cleaned using electrostatic spraying compared to traditional cleaning methods?

JG: Our Evaclean system can electrostatically disinfect 100% of all touchpoints in a hospital room in under 3 minutes. A typical cleaning process can reach 25% of those room surfaces in 15 minutes. This results in significant labor savings. Touchless disinfection of surfaces is proven to be more effective in reducing infection rates and outbreaks. In addition, this process is easier to train and maintain than cleaning protocols that require custodians to learn complicated checklists of all surfaces in a facility that need to wiped in order to be properly disinfected or sanitized.

LC: What other types of businesses can benefit from this technology?

JG: Any industry with a need for more effective cleaning and surface sanitation would benefit. With the 2017/2018 flu outbreaks as bad as they were, schools and businesses are preparing now to better protect themselves. Sports and athletic facilities utilize our system to not only prevent outbreaks like MRSA but also eliminate the odors associated with incomplete cleaning procedures. Quick service restaurants, food processing facilities, and grocery stores face a constant challenge of maintaining cost effective sanitation programs that can prevent outbreaks of E. Coli, Salmonella, or Norovirus.

JG: For me, nothing demonstrates the challenges that cleaning professionals and infection preventionists face more than watching my son and his 3 year old friends wreak havoc on a daycare classroom. Within 15 minutes, every toy and bin is touched, hands are coughed in, tables and water fountains are sneezed on, doorknobs are grabbed, and food is dropped. Their little fingers go everywhere. Now overlay the 25% of surfaces that are typically cleaned in a classroom each day with everywhere those little fingers went and you see very quickly that your standard cleaning protocol leaves 50-75% of surfaces untouched and able to transmit germs, some of which can live for weeks on a surface. Your child gets sick, they bring it home. You get sick, you take it to the office, or hospital, and on and on it goes.

LC: Preventing the spread of illnesses in any facility is a daunting task. What are biggest challenges facilities managers and infection control specialists face today?

JG: They key challenges that most face include a lack of time, staff, budget, and training. The good news is that technology exists that provides affordable options to customers looking to utilize their cleaning staff more effectively, efficiently, and safely to better protect the public health and create cleaner, more sanitary environments worldwide. Technology on its own isn’t the solution to their challenges. It’s a tool that helps make solutions possible.

JG: The goal needs to be better cleaning coverage that provides for more comprehensive and frequent disinfection of touchpoints and room surfaces. We’ll never fully prevent people from getting sick, but we can promote better health and reduce outbreaks, not by replacing workers with technology, but by leveraging technology to make those people we rely on to keep us healthy more effective. That’s the power of electrostatics. That’s the future of clean.

Jeremiah Gray can be reached at jgray@earthsafeca.com. For more information about EarthSafe and the Evaclean system contact your Imperial Dade representative or visit www.evaclean.com.

Going Green is Not Always Black & White

Although foodservice packaging and related supplies make up approximately 3% of a restaurant’s expenses, these items have consumed a disproportionate percentage of mindshare lately. Bans on certain types of products such as expanded polystyrene (foam) containers, plastic bags, and most recently plastic straws, have been causing headaches. Here are 10 tips to help make sense of the changing landscape of packaging materials, environmental claims, and disposal pathways.

1.      The term biodegradable is often used to market products but can be misleading. For example, an aluminum can is biodegradable…in 200 years. On the other hand, a banana, when buried in a sanitary landfill, will never biodegrade.

2.      Compostable is another term that needs clarification. Products that are BPI Certified compostable must be processed in a commercial composting facility in order to be converted into the nutrient-rich compost material that can be reused in agricultural applications. If a compostable product ends up in a landfill, it remains intact.

3.      All plastics are recyclable however not are all are economically feasible. Polyethylene terephthalate (PETE) is the most commonly recycled plastic in both residential and commercial recycling programs. This type of plastic is used to make many types of clear plastic packaging and bottles and can be recycled multiple times.

4.      Cardboard and paper are recyclable, but must be free of contaminants such as food, grease, and other debris.

5.      There are many alternative raw materials that can be used to make foodservice packaging including bio-based and rapidly renewable materials that may also be compostable, when certified and processed properly.

  • Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet, growing as much as 24” in a day. The material is used to make compostable plates, cutlery, and straws.
  • Sugarcane Pulp, also called Bagasse, is a byproduct of the harvesting process. It is used to make compostable plates, bowls, and other containers.
  • Wheat straw is another rapidly renewable material that can be used similarly to sugarcane pulp, also compostable.
  • Cornstarch, when converted into polylactic acid (PLA), is made into compostable cups, lids, and straws. Although the material looks like plastic, it is not suitable for hot applications.
  • Palm sheaths naturally dry and fall from trees. They are collected and converted into compostable plates, bowls, and containers.

6.      The disposal process may be the most challenging part of the equation. An operator can use recyclable and compostable packaging and supplies, but the consumer must then dispose of the item into the correct collection bin. Cross-contamination of recyclables or compostables will result in the load ending up in the landfill.

7.      For on-premises disposal, using prominent signage including pictograms can help educate staff and customers. Video monitors are another option and may be more attention grabbing than static signs.

8.      Custom-print packaging can convey your sustainability messaging and include instructions for proper disposal, on-site or off.

9.      Although there are many sustainable alternatives, it is still important to ensure that the packaging performs correctly and increases customer satisfaction. Test all options for temperature and humidity control, strength, grease-resistance, and presentation.

10.      Going green is not black and white. Work with an experienced supplier partner to select the most appropriate packaging and supplies for your unique situation.

For more information on Imperial Dade’s Greensafe Program visit our website.
This article first appeared in This Week in Hospitality, a publication of the New York City Hospitality Alliance.

Expert Interview – Sustainable Style

 On a recent trip to New York, I visited PacknWood’s loft showroom in midtown Manhattan. Over coffee, the company’s Founder and CEO Adam Merran explained the company’s product line and commitment to sustainability. 

LC: What makes PacknWood different from the many other manufacturers of foodservice packaging and catering supplies?

AM: We create innovative, high-quality and eco-friendly packaging solutions using many unique materials for all kinds of food applications. We currently have the largest eco-friendly line in the market, launching 80-100 new products a year. That really keeps things exciting for all our customers.

LC: Looking around, I see you do have many product lines which are made from a variety of raw materials.

AM: The natural look of the material is very important. The features, being sustainable and practical, are also important. For example, bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet. Our bamboo leaf plates are beautiful with a two-sided design. They have an exotic look. Each plate looks different. The material can hold many types of food for long periods​ of time without losing strength.

Bamboo leaf plate

AM: We also make products from other renewable and compostable materials such as sugarcane pulp, palm leaves, starch, wood, and paperboard. Other items are made with recycled and recyclable plastics.

LC: How do you stay ahead of the marketplace in terms of innovations?

AM: We stay on top of the trends and we anticipate them. PacknWood launched paper straws 8 years ago. We now see the market is ready for them. We happen to have 50 different designs ​available. We also just launched a hard bamboo straw.

AM: I am a foodie and pay attention to foodservice concepts. One of the big trends I noticed 4 or 5 years ago was the popularity of food trucks. So, we developed a product line called Street Eats which is perfect for all kinds of portable food items.

Grab and go

AM: We also import trends from Europe such as our VIP sets. Catering companies often cater in bulk with large catering trays, we decided to offer an alternative with upscale, single-​serving containers.

VIP set.jpeg

LC: How do you make sure your products continue to meet the needs of your customers?

AM: We try to create excitement by continuously launching new products and applications. PacknWood exhibits in at least 10 national trade shows every year and we keep ​in close contact with our end-users to understand what they need. ​This is what drives the product launches and, to be honest, that is what I am passionate about personally. For example, we noticed catering companies were drilling holes in wood planks to hold our skewers. We decided to create a solid ready-to-use skewer stand using beautiful bamboo. Our stadium customers were using plain picks to serve food so we developed a line of sports-themed bamboo picks, which enhanced their guests’ experience.

Sport skewer

LC: Sustainability is obviously a big part of your business model. Tell me about why that is important to you.

AM: It is key to me as I believe we need to be more sustainable every day. I attempt to certify as many of our items as possible. We select renewable or recyclable materials throughout all our new product launches. Two years ago we took the initiative to neutralize our company’s carbon emissions. We are sponsoring projects around the world that offset our emissions. We are looking at going further by becoming a B Corporation.

LC: Tell me more about the B Corporation program.

AM: It is a third-party standard requiring companies to meet social sustainability and environmental performance standards. The certification applies to the whole company across all product lines and issue areas.

LC: What are some challenges that foodservice operators have today and how do your products address those challenges?

AM: Very often, the challenge for an operator is to become a more sustainable business. It can be difficult to fit that goal into their budget. We offer many green alternatives at different prices. What we do is offer a solution that will enhance their food presentation and enhance their brand. That investment makes​ it possible for them to obtain a higher selling price for their menu items, a triple win.

LC: Thank you for inviting me to visit you today and learn more about PacknWood!

AM: It was my pleasure!

For more information about PacknWood’s product offering visit www.packnwood.com or ask your Imperial Dade representative.