September is National Food Safety Month, organized by our friends at the National Restaurant Association. This year’s theme is “Let It Flow,” following the flow of food through restaurants with different focus areas each week. This final week is particularly important to us as it highlights safety issues associated with “service,” which provides a great opportunity to bring foodservice packaging into the discussion.
We already know through numerous studies that single-use items are more sanitary than their reusable counterparts. Foodservice packaging is manufactured, packed and shipped so it arrives clean at foodservice establishments. It’s the responsibility of operators to properly store and handle these items to minimize the opportunity for contamination and help keep food safe and consumers healthy.
Here are a few tips to do just that.
DO store foodservice packaging in its original container or other protective storage in a cool, clean, dry location at least 6 inches above the floor.
DON’T store foodservice packaging in areas such as locker rooms, bathrooms, garbage or mechanical rooms, or under leaky pipes, open stairwells or other sources of contamination.
DO stack items bottoms-up on sanitary surfaces to prevent contamination of food-and-lip-contact surfaces. Or consider using dispensers, especially for items like unwrapped straws and cutlery. Make sure this is done in both the front and back of the house.
DON’T use a foodservice packaging item that has fallen on the floor or touched soiled surfaces.
DO keep eating surfaces clean by handling packaging by the sides or bottom, and store unwrapped cutlery handles-up. Consider disposable gloves for extra protection.
DO provide a more sanitary setting for customers. Tables or trays can carry up to 23 times more bacteria than those not protected by single-use placemats or tray covers.
DON’T wash and reuse foodservice packaging.
BTW, did you know some of these guidelines aren’t just common sense and are actually required? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Code, which serves as a model for state and local public health standards, provides guidance to foodservice operators and others on the proper manufacture, storage and handling of food and associated packaging.
You may also be interested to know that the Food Code authoritatively spells out the sanitary and health advantages of single-use foodservice items: “In situations in which the reuse of multiuse items could result in foodborne illness to consumers, single-service and single-use articles must be used to ensure safety.”
In addition, the FDA recognizes the importance of our products and, through the Food Code, mandates the use of them in certain circumstances: “A food establishment without facilities...for cleaning and sanitizing kitchenware and tableware shall provide only single-use kitchenware, single-service articles, and single-use articles for use by food employees and single-service articles for use by consumers.”
So, there you have it. A nice little add-on to National Food Safety Month. Help us spread the word that our products are an important part of a strong food safety system and a key in preventing food-borne disease.
More information on National Food Safety Month may be found at foodsafetymonth.com.
Posted By Lynn M. Dyer (President) | 9/29/2015 10:38:40 AM