Foodservice Opinions

Opinion pieces on the foodservice equipment and supplies industry from leaders and laymen from all aspects of the business, including dealers, distributors, design consultants and multi-unit operators.

This Week in Foodservice: Weak Casual Dining Sales, Redesigns Pay Off in Sales, Automats Reinvented and Naugles’ Attempt to Grow

Weekly roundup of news that's worthy of a second glance: Knapp-Track shows weak casual dining sales – again; decline in U.S. restaurants; restaurant redesigns pay off in higher sales; old automats reincarnated; and the Attempt to Revive Naugles.

Reduce Your Risk of a Norovirus Outbreak

Food safety expert Francine L. Shaw outlines key tips to avoiding contamination.

By Francine L. Shaw

Now that we’re into the fall season, school is in full swing, the weather is getting cooler, and people are spending more time indoors, which means norovirus “season” is beginning. Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Norovirus is a common and contagious virus that can spread widely very rapidly.

The CDC estimates that each year norovirus causes:

  • 19 - 21 million illnesses
  • 56,000 - 71,000 hospitalizations
  • 570 - 800 deaths
  • Do not allow ill employees to work at all – and especially don’t allow them to work around food preparation areas. Avoid preparing food for others while you’re sick and for at least 48 hours after symptoms stop.
  • Clean and sanitize kitchen utensils, counters, and surfaces routinely.
  • Keep virucidal chemicals on hand to clean and sanitize high-touch areas frequently.
  • Develop, implement, and monitor stringent handwashing policies for all employees.
  • Ensure that all employees wash their hands carefully and often with soap and water (100 degrees F).
  • Use “no-touch” paper towel dispensers in all restrooms.
  • Place hand-washing job aids in both public and team member restrooms.
  • Enforce a strict “gloving” policy for all food preparation. Ensure that gloves are changed frequently and hands are washed before putting on gloves and in between changes.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables before preparing or serving.
  • Cook shellfish thoroughly.
  • Use different colored cloths for cleaning restrooms and foodservice areas of facilities.
  • Wash table linens, napkins, and other laundry thoroughly.
  • Create an ongoing food safety training program for your team at all levels.
  • Develop and implement procedures for employees to follow when responding to vomiting or diarrheal events that involve the discharge of vomitus or fecal matter onto surfaces in the food establishment, as suggested in the 2013 FDA Food Code.

The most common symptoms of norovirus are explosive diarrhea, projectile vomiting, nausea and stomach pain. Sometimes people experience fever, headache and body aches. If you have norovirus, you can feel extremely ill and throw up or have diarrhea many times a day. In some situations, the ramifications are even more severe. A norovirus infection can become quite serious in children, the elderly and immune-compromised individuals. Sometimes severe dehydration, malnutrition, and even death can result from a norovirus infection.

Anyone can get infected with norovirus and it’s possible to get it more than once. According to studies, it is estimated that the average person will get norovirus several times during their lifetime. So far this year, hundreds of cases of norovirus have been reported everywhere from college and university campuses to a Cuban cruise and the Republican National Convention – no one is exempt.

Norovirus is a huge threat within the hospitality industry. According to the CDC, the majority of norovirus outbreaks occur in foodservice settings, and 70 percent of infected workers cause 70 percent of those outbreaks. Multiple studies over the past few years indicate that people go to work in the food service industry even when they are sick.

Food safety isn’t simply a restaurant issue; it’s a critical issue for the entire food service industry, including restaurants, schools, colleges, contract services, convenience stores, hotels, manufacturing and production facilities, medical facilities, retirement homes, retail locations, etc. Bottom line – if you grow, sell, serve, or make food in any capacity, you must be vigilant about food safety. Training and following proper protocols are essential to keep consumers safe.

At Food Safety Training Solutions Inc., we offer foodservice professionals these tips to avoid norovirus:

A well-trained management, staff, and crew is imperative in creating a food safety culture. These values must be established and modeled at the executive level. If the executives aren’t championing for food safety, it’s a major problem for that company and their customers. Ongoing training and education is vitally important to prevent norovirus – as well as other foodborne illnesses – and the terrible repercussions that occur after an outbreak. So ensure that all staff, in all roles within the organization, always follow proper food safety protocols.

About the author

Francine L. Shaw is President of Food Safety Training Solutions Inc., which offers a robust roster of services, including food safety training, food safety inspections, norovirus policies for employees, norovirus clean-up procedures, responsible alcohol service training and more. The Food Safety Training Solutions team has more than 100 combined years of industry experience in restaurants, casinos and convenience stores. The company has helped numerous clients, including McDonald’s, Papa John’s, Subway, Marriott, Domino’s, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America, Dairy Queen, and Omni Hotel and Resorts prevent foodborne illnesses. Additionally, they work with restaurants of all sizes, schools, medical facilities, convenience stores, hotels and casinos. Francine has been featured as a food safety expert in numerous media outlets, including the Dr. Oz Show, the Huffington Post and Food Management Magazine.

This Week in Foodservice: The Restaurant of the Future, a new Concept From Sam Fox – Doughbird, Chipotle Three Ways and More

Here’s what caught my eye to be worthy of a second look this week: Deloitte talks about the restaurant of the future (it’s closer than we might think); The Food Institute says food-away-from-home spending climbed significantly in 2014; Sam Fox to introduce concept No.16 – Doughbird; and Chipotle makes the news with three different stories.

This Week in Foodservice: No Drama in Latest NRA Data, Foodservice Hiring Up; Analyst Bucks Recession Talks With “Buys” and More

Weekly news worth another look: National Restaurant Association data shows a slight improvement in industry performance in July; foodservice hiring shot up in August; One Wall Street analyst says naysayers are missing the entire picture; The NPD Group reports restaurant traffic flat and the union targeting McDonald’s has its own labor problems.

Mitigate Risk: Motivate Hand-Washing

Hand-washing continues to rapidly move from a tiring and trivial irritation to an existential threat. One restaurant operator faced a federal grand jury subpoena last year as part of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration criminal investigation regarding a major norovirus outbreak at the chain’s Simi Valley, Calif., store. The operator was accused of not having adequate control systems in place.

Vitality Bowls and the Superfoods Cafe

Vitality Bowls is a self-described superfoods café. The acai berry serves as the star ingredient for a menu that includes bowls, smoothies, juices, Paninis, salads and soups that staff make to order. Uriah Blum, the chain’s vice president of operations, describes Vitality Bowls’ service style as a cross between fast-casual and quick service, given the high-touch approach and the speed with which customers move through the line. Here, Blum discusses the chain’s approach to food safety, sustainability and more.

Thought-Provoking Transitions at FE&S

September is a time of transition in many ways: for businesses it’s time to budget and plan for the new year, for families it’s time to go back to school because summer holidays have come to an end.

All Hail the Food Hall

Beyond the varied menu and service styles, food halls often feature a retail component, which allows customers to take a portion of their experience home to enjoy later.

Jay Lerdal Discusses ServSafe as National Food Safety Month Kicks Off

September is National Food Safety Month, so the time seemed right for a discussion with Jay Lerdal, product manager of the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe program.

Ecolab's Ruth Petran Provides Insight on Avoiding Reoccurring Food Safety Mistakes

Ecolab's vice president of food safety and public health, Ruth L. Petran, Ph.D., discusses how to apply best practices to create a food safety-oriented culture.

This Week in Foodservice: Supplier P&L Checkup, NRA Bullish on Business, YUM! Trust-Themed Trademarks and More

Here’s what caught my eye to be worthy of a second look this week: major foodservice industry supplier’s P&Ls; soft chain sales −  with increased menu prices getting the blame; the NRA’s 5 reasons why they are bullish on the restaurant business; and YUM! Brands application for federal trademark registrations on 2 food safety slogans.

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