Not that there aren't restrictions to foreign objects in food dishes, but considering the new twists and turns American standards have been assuming since "911", it's easy to understand how vulnerable we can be with our food supplies, drinking water and, not to mention, the kitchens of our favorite restaurants.

There are many procedures and regulatory conditions our cafeterias, kitchens, delis, food stands and fast food operations are required to go thru in order to ensure proper health management and basic food preparation. One health inspection company, HACCP, an acronym for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points, provides inspections of food service establishments. The "Inspectors" observe procedures followed by kitchen workers, as well as sanitation, food temperatures, food storage, plumbing, and functionality of required equipment, such as refrigeration.

That's great, because we expect this is what's accomplished before we sit down at our local restaurant - but what about our chefs, servers and food handlers? Are they being "inspected" as well?

Chief of Our Chefs

Knowing who is producing those tasty meals is just as important as anything else a restaurant, and their manager, does. Employment Screening and Background Investigations is a vital new step in the hiring process that restaurants, cafes and culinary colleges have been advancing to. The "Grade-A" selection of new chefs, servers and, yes, even professors can quickly become something of a pickle when not properly chosen.

Professional license verification, reference reports and social security number verification should be widely considered, if not mandatory, when managers choose their kitchen staff. Managers should have a handle on what is and what is NOT making its way into their patrons' food. The public's health depends on it.

The popularity of such checks is growing in part because web based electronic-data-collection techniques that make it quicker and easier to find out information about current and prospective chefs and employees. Also, high-dollar verdicts against restaurants and institutions for negligently hiring employees have focused employers on potential liability.

A leading provider of Employment Screening and Background Investigations is a company based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Their image is appropriately conveyed through their name; Information Architects, or otherwise referred to as "IA". I like to think of Information Architects as a group of intellects producing blueprints of solid information required of any business to build a strong foundation for their facility or company. To view IA's web site log onto:

IA hosts a wide variety of services including drug screening, federal criminal investigations and workers comp searches to protect our local restaurants, cafes and culinary colleges against theft, terrorism, law suits and&bad publicity.

What differentiates IA's web-based system from databases is that IA retrieves the information directly from their sources including county, state and civil courts. The reports provided by IA are the most current in the industry and all data is all up to the minute. The employer has access to data using unique logins, which control every aspect of the IA database from any computer and can interface with most front-end HR applications. This product has the functionality to accomplish proper procedure, Fair Credit Reporting Act compliance, and adverse action monitoring/tracking.

Protection Against Discrimination and Litigation

In the process of protecting your restaurant and its customers you may encounter discriminatory-type cases from time to time. When it comes to hiring and firing an employee you could never be too careful against lawsuits and allegations. Even in those circumstances, you could rest assured that if you have background records on all your employees you also have insight into their personality with a background that may include; incidences of theft, aggravated assault, civil law suits or drug abuse. You now have the credentials to defend yourself properly and a reason to explain to your candidate why he or she is not selected as the "catch of the day".

Young Workers

Almost half of the kids in high school will work in the food industry. Teens and college-aged workers are being hired as drivers for food delivery and wait staff - that's nothing new.

What IS new, is the ability to conveniently check their driving record in amount of hours. Does your restaurant have exclusive records of the employees' past driving history, DMV records or work experience?

IA has a dynamite package called, the "Basic Plus" for just this situation. The Basic Plus contains the Motor Vehicle Reporting, social security verification and unlimited county criminal checks within a five-year scope. The Motor Vehicle reports reveal motor vehicle violations, suspensions and revocations, and it will indicate the type of license granted and restrictions on use. In addition, employers with company-owned roadways may wish to limit access to employees with unsafe driving records. This is highly recommended for anyone applying for a job driving a truck, company car or operating machinery. In some states, convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are not on the criminal court record and can only be revealed through a DMV check.

Immigration Workers

Do employees have the proper papers to work in your community or within the confines of your kitchen? Social Security number verifications are recommended on all applicants revealing names associated with a Social Security number, past and present addresses and essential information required for researching criminal history.

Social Security checks are your first line of defense against applicant dishonesty. You can instantly find out if your applicant has provided a valid social security number, if it was issued prior to his/her date of birth or if it belongs to a deceased person. IA's web-based interface is linked with Experian's credit data to validate Social Security numbers and the correct name of the applicant. A regular Social Security number Trace and Certification/Verification takes approximately 1 hour to receive through the web-based reporting method.

In Las Vegas, Nevada every food handler must be trained and certified. IA's education history and degree verification is received directly from the issuing institution verifying an applicant's academic history and credentials with the degree earned.

Final Frontier
Learning to trust your employees begins with a concrete blueprint - a verified background history, social security number verification, diploma verification and professional license verification. Getting caught in a "food fight" simply isn't your goal nor should it be your customers'.
Don't deem it lucky that you haven't come into any "big issues", or a lawsuit in your restaurant, it may be your next dish that holds a needle in your mashed potatoes!
For more information on Information Architects, please log onto their web site at: or call toll free 1-866-550-5252.

Public Relations Contact
Shana J. Klein