Food Safety Issues

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by steelbanger, Jun 22, 2011.

  1. steelbanger

    steelbanger

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    I am the corporate executive chef for an area bigger than many countries. I have about thirty to forty accounts to look after, at one time or another. Part of my job is to teach food safety. I am a government certified food safety indstructor, and i take this stuff pretty seriously. I walked into an account today and found a plastic squeeze bottle on a shelf on the line containing olive oil and a couple of garlic cloves. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT PICTURE?? I took the sous aside and explained that this was NOT a good idea. Garlic can harbor clostridium botulinum bacteria (in fact it probably does), and if kept in an anaerobic environment, at room temperature they can produce a toxin which can kill a crowd (I believe 60% of botulism poisonings end in death). In short, I was not pleased. We spend a lot of time and energy trying to re-inforce the food safety message on an on-going basis, and seeing something this elementary has me concerned. I wonder how good the food safety knowledge of our cooks and chefs really is...

    Take this simple test, and do explain your answers:

    1. You made baked potatoes for dinner service, and you have a bunch left over. You decide they will make good hash browns tomorrow and you leave them on the rack'n roll next to the walk-in with a note to the breakfast cook to use them up. He'll be in in about six hours. Is this a safe practice?

    2. Which of the following are NOT considered potentially hazardous foods?

        cooked rice

        cooked carrots

        oats

        dry spices

        soda crackers

    3. You purchased smoked salmon packed in a vacuum pack. you leave it in your fridge for a week before you open the package. is it still safe to use?

    4. You made fruit cups using cantelope, honeydew, and water melon. You put the cups on the shelf above the deli counter for self-service. is this a safe practice?

    5. Your establishment uses color coded cutting boards. Is it safe to use a red board to cut lettuce, knowing that it has gone through the dish washer?

    6. Which is the more effective sanitizer: bleach or quaternary ammonium?

    Do you have any food safety horror stories to tell? I have enough to ruin anyone's appetite...
     
  2. thetincook

    thetincook

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  3. chefedb

    chefedb

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    thetin cook   All could be potentially, but least of all crackers.  Storage and humidity play a big roll here. Rice sours fairly quick as do carrots.

    Cut fresh fruit is a problem the minute it is cut. The rind of the fruit sometime comes in contact with the meat of it on the board and could start it all going, never leave out and if a fruit platter on buffet , do not safe it after being out for hours.

     Colored coded boards , should be used only for what the color signafies. The  reason being even washed the boards have knicks and scratches that could harbor a form of bacteria. Some dishwashers do not produce high enough temps for the correct amount of time.

    I use hypochloride 07 ppm slightly above the law, in particular in the butcher shop.
     
  4. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Shouldn't use the unopened smoked salmon either. 

    Big no-no.  Besides, it's far easier to get at the slices and peel them apart if the package has been upened for a while.

    Re cutting boards:  No, you shouldn't.  I have a woodworker's thickness planer at home.  When the boards get scuffed up, I run them through and get two new, smooth surfaces. After a while the boards get too thin to use, so they get tossed out.

    A lot of bad stories, one of the worst was when I was the Swiss Army.  Someone had put hot beef stew in a sealable serving/transport container overnight and locked the  lid down tight.  When I opened it up in the morning it was bubbling at me.  I wasn't the one who did it, but got royal sh*t for the deed, and a month worth of Sunday duties.  Stench of that stuff is still in my nostrils...
     
  5. steelbanger

    steelbanger

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    Good answers, getlemen. Mostly correct, but the reason I put them there is because they are somewhat trick questions. I've been to so many health inspection seminars (I don't know why they keep inviting me - at the last one I was the only non-health inspector. Go figure!)

    1. the case of the baked potato:

    Yes it is not safe to leave baked potaoes at room temperature for extended periods of time. reason being: as we all know, baked potatoes are often scored with a knife before baking. This can cause a small amount of the skin to be pushed in below the surface. Like the garlic in the incident i described, potatoes, too, may be contaminated with Clostridium bacteria. If left in an anaerobic environment ie inside the potato where no oxygen can get at it, it may survive the baking process if it has not been cooked long enough. Later, when it is left at room temperature the bacteria can produce botulinum toxin. If the breakfast cook uses said potatoes, and does not cook them sufficiently, the toxin may remain active and cause a food borne illness. Botulinum toxin is not heat stable, and can be destroyed if properly heated. I wouldn't take that chance, however.

    2. PHF's

    Chefedb, you are correct. The LEAST hazardous are the soda crackers due to the high pH of the soda, and the fact that the crackers are dry. Mold could still be a problem though. So, how about the rest?

    cooked rice - a bacterium called bacillus cereus lives on cereal grains and other plants. It will sporulate (turn into a spore) when survival conditions are less than favorable (ie dry conditions), and will turn back into a viable bacterium, given the right circumstances. The spores can survive cooking temperatures, and if cooked rice (moist) is left in the danger zone (4C to 60C, 40 F to 140F), the bacteria can begin to multiply rapidely and cause a food borne illness.

    cooked carrots:

    the same applies to carrots as does to potatoes. It all depends on how they were cooked. if well done, in an acidic environment i. e. orange juice, there is not much to be feared, however one should always be cognizant of the fact that this danger exists. So, refrigerate all cooked foods, or keep them above 60C / 140F

    oats:

    Same issue as with rice. As long as they are kept dry, no danger exists, however once turned into oat meal, (or any other form involving moisture) the same applies as does to cooked rice (and cooked pasta, by the way!)

    dry spices;

    Yep, same thing. Bacillus cereus has been found in paprika, sesame seeds, dry thyme, chili powder, etc. Onion powder, garlic powder and curry pastes are also possible sources of both bacillus cereus as well as clostridia. Again, it's the introduction of moisture which is the problem. So, impress on your staff not to reach into a jar of spice with wet hands!

    3. the smoked salmon

    This one had me stumped, too. Apparently, according to the food safety gurus, smoked salmon in a vacuum can also be a favorable environment for clostridia. Think of it - anaerobic environment, mild, almost neutral pH, protein for food, ample moisture, given enough time at even refrigerator temps, still satisfies FAT TOM. A week is probably not enough at 4C or less, but three to four? I dunno.... However, the health inspectors do recommend that you break the vacuum once you thaw the product, or as soon as you receive it.

    4. Fruit cups:

    That old clostridium again! Melons, being mild fruit, resting on the ground when grown, can be contaminated with the bacteria from the skin. Leaving them at room temperature, sitting in their own juice - covered or not - may cause clostridia to grow and produce the botulinum toxin. To prevent this, either refrigerate the product or acidulate the environment by adding acidic fruit like citrus or pineapple. Sliced melons on a fruit platter are not dangerous, however, because oxygen can get at the fruit and the bacteria will not produce the toxin. This only happens if they metabolize in an atmosphere devoid of oxygen.

    5. color coded cutting boards:

    Okay, this one is probably worthy of its own thread! I just don't get the colors! I think it's much better to teach your staff to change cutting boards with each work process, no matter what. If you put your color coded cutting boards in the dish pit or the dish washer, you will cross-contaminate all other boards present, anyway. So, if your dishwasher (or pot sink) cannot properly sanitize whatever is in the machine (or sink) , you have bigger problems. Color coded cutting boards only encourage (inexperienced) cooks to hold onto soiled boards when in fact they should have changed them, thinking it was "safe" to do more than one work process on the same board. I'm sure many of you would disagree. I often pose this question, and I usually get rolling eyes...

    6. Sanitizer

    Right on thetincook! Yes, believe it or not, good old household bleach is more effective and has a wider antiseptic spectrum than quats. Did you know quats are ineffective on e-coli?? The reason we are encouraged NOT to use bleach is exactly as thetincook said: it can eat away at aluminum and stainless steel, especially if used in hot water. Also, bleach loses its efficacy in the presence of excessive dirt, grease and mineral contamination. Quats are a little more forgiving in this respect. Quats are also less hazardous to handle. Bleach can be hard on the skin, dangerous to the eyes and mucous membranes, and can react with other commonly used cleaning chemicals to produce noxious fumes...

    Next question:

    You cook a beautiful prime rib roast on Saturday night, however business is slower than expected. Three quarters of your roast is left over. You don't despair, however, because you will serve it again tomorrow night, carefully reheated, and still medium rare. Is that okay??
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011
  6. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    The answer is no, but I guarantee that 9 out of 10 places are serving re-heats when there is left over prime rib, unless they have an outlet for it like a french dip or similar where it can be re heated to proper temp.
     
  7. left4bread

    left4bread

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    I think that you could school me,

    and you could very well know more about food safety than I do,

    but the parenthesis make me feel uneasy.

    "Probably" and "I believe"; I have to (as a student) question your curriculum.
     
  8. chefedb

    chefedb

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    From a technical standpoint it should not be done, because in the process of reheating it is not bought up to correct temps to kill anything. Also it has probably been under a heat lamp at service time for 2 or 3 hours,, this does not help either. Most places DO use reheats because they are not going to make hash out of a rib. The rib itself was internally sterile in its raw state however once the knife passes thru it, it is not sterile anymore. Equate it to ourselves If we bang our arm and there is a gash or cut , we could get infection. If however we bang our arm and no gash or cut  just black and blue we wont get infection.
     
  9. leeniek

    leeniek

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    I have a few.... stories that is...
     
  10. leeniek

    leeniek

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    Next question:

    You cook a beautiful prime rib roast on Saturday night, however business is slower than expected. Three quarters of your roast is left over. You don't despair, however, because you will serve it again tomorrow night, carefully reheated, and still medium rare. Is that okay??

    I know there are places that do just that (and I just left one such place after a month of working there) and no it is NOT okay.  The meat needs to be brought up tp proper temperature before serving and well, that will effectifely cancel out its' being served as medium rare.  A better choice would be to cut it into manageable pieces and freeze those pieces individually.  They can then be reused in stir fries, french dip, hot beef sandwiches and even a quick stew if the kitchen is busy and they need to have another item on the special board for dinner. 
     
  11. thetincook

    thetincook

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    A place I worked at would use the left over roasts for anyone who wanted an end cut. They wouldn't reheat and hold, but would heat each slice individually in some au jus or whatever. It was a little pain in the butt when working a buffet line or brunch. I'd tell him that we'd have the kitchen fix it up for em, and their server would bring it out. Brunch was the worse, because they would always want me to sear it in my omelet pans.

    Speaking of brunch and food safety, I've had a surprising number of customers want cocktail shrimps, crab leg meat, and even carving station meats in their omelets. No, I won't peel your shrimps for you.../img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif I know it's no technically allowed, once food is given to a customer, it doesn't cross back, but I relented if they peeled it at their table and put it in the omelet pan themselves. I figure if I or my tongs don't touch it before it gets to 165, everyone is safe. Since the carving station and omelet station were next to each other, and I usually worked both, I had no problems dicing up a little roast or turkey for omelets.

    About spices being PHF, I'm sure we've all had problems with insect vermin in chilies, or the occasional moldy chile. Once I made a batch of togarashi for a buffet. Served it the same day it was made. Mixed together some coarse powdered chile, black and white sesame, granulated nori, and fresh orange zest. I put the left over spice blend in one of those spice bottles. Apparently there was enough moisture from the zest that every got funky and bloaty. Makes one wonder about the microbial load on spices. I know you have to spec aseptic black pepper for some applications, for example.
     
  12. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Pepper is dirtiest spice. I didcontroled  petri dish experiments with herbs and spices for WR Grace Corp many years ago. We produced dishes both with and without black pepper. With every thing exactly the same , dishes with black pepper went bad quicker. Salads with diced celery also went bad quicker.(Tuna, Egg, Chicken; Ham etc. We switched over to white pepper xtracts and iradiated diced celery.
     
  13. steelbanger

    steelbanger

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    My apologies, left4bread. I was travelling and did not have access to my files. Some exact figures escape my memory and I need to look them up to be exact. I am not a micro-biologist, so my knowledge is cursory at best. The intent is not to make exact factual statements but to engage this group in conversation, and in my teaching, I aim to make my students THINK - think for themselves, mostly.

    To be exact, Clostridium botulinum fatality is "close to 60%" (BCIT Food 1021 Food Microbiology 2006)
    I say "Probably" because there, too is the possibility of an alternative situation - some commerically produced garlic products are either pasteurized or highly acidulated which renders them sterile. Again, the purpose is not to overwhelm the student of food safety with unnecessary scientific facts, but rather impress on them the potential dangers involved with poor practices.

    In my converstions with my students - and I think you would be a good one - I encourage them to question my statements in order to get a discussion going. I think this thread is proof that this works.

    In respect of my second question about the prime rib, it would seem this group is well aware of the dangers of serving a roast the second time around without properly re-heating it. As our food safety rules state, foods must be reheated to an internal temperature of 74C (165F) within less than two hours, regardless of the food. This would make it impossible to have medium rare beef the second time round. It's done all the time, though...
     
  14. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Spices are pretty neat to study.   Most Gov'ts allow a certain percentage of rodent droppings and hair in the spices, as 100% pure is virtually impossible--hence the irradiated spices and the spice extracts.

    Now just for laughs, Coca -cola uses BWP nutmeg for it's secret recipie.  That's Broken, Punky, Wormy.  I guess the worms eat away at the nutmegs, riddling it with holes so it makes it much, much, easier to extract the nutmeg oil. Don't ask me what the phosphoric acid is for..............
     
  15. thetincook

    thetincook

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    It's for the tang. Back when I was a wee punk, my orthodontist used phosphoric acid gel to make a rough surface on my teeth for the braces glue to stick too. I'll be damned if it didn't taste kinda good when he rinsed it off.

    Facisinating about the nutmeg. I'm guessing it's cheaper since they are only using the oils or extracts.
     
  16. left4bread

    left4bread

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    Fair enough. 

    I apologize if my skepticism was rude.

    I've worked in a couple places that the CDC governed.  Their stringent rules always interested me.

    Thought about switching fields at one point.  The amount of college classes required turned me off though, this late in life.

    1) Why would you allow anything to cool at room temp?  As far as potatoes go, if you broke the skin to let moisture escape, I guess it would be ok to cool in the walk-in. 

    2) Dry spices.

    3) Yes.  If it's cryovac, I don't see a big deal.  It's a cured meat and I'd treat it like bacon.  Yes, cured meats will grow mold if left in the open air, but it's cryovac, so...

    4) Unrefrigerated?  No.  Uncovered?  GTFO

    5) No.  I mean, if you've ever used a cutting board...  The meat sticks to the boards and even though you throw it in the machine, and it hits the sanitizer, particles of meat remain in the grooves and are little microcosms for bacteria to grow in.  They need to be scrubbed before the dish-machine.  Also, plane your cutting boards every so often.

    6) I like the quat.  Haven't heard anything against it. 

    Edit: The prime rib gets cooled properly and is used as cold cuts for a sandwich the next day. Like a really expensive French Dip.  Make a jus from the drippings.  OMG, I'm sooo hungry now.  Some sour cream with horseradish with a thick crusted baguette dunked in that jus..... 
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2011
  17. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I believe the chef was refering to the primal rib as a reheat where as the temperature is in 99% of cases not correct and dangerous.

        However sliced next day after being properly cooled and then reheated as for french dip is in my opinion fine with the proviso that it is reheated enough, in addition I have never seen a french dip done rare or even close to it.
     
  18. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Left4bread,

    In regards to cooling stuff down at room temp before putting it in the walk in, I believe it has more to do with practicality rather than food safety.

    Wheel a rack of oven-hot spuds in the walk-in and they will indeed cool off--giving off clouds of steam and condensation.  Not good for other items in the walk in, and not good for the the condensing coil of the walk in, as the steam will collect on the coil and ice up, which causes the compressor to shut down, and invariably the temp in the walk in shoots up.

    I've been told by more than one health inspector to always break the seal on vacuum packed seafood before thawing.  Besides, as I said in the above post, when you do this, pre-sliced salmon is much, much easier to separate, even interleafed.   
     
  19. left4bread

    left4bread

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    I'm confused...  Or maybe I'm being confusing.

    It's not okay to cool foods at room temperature (with a few obvious exceptions (bread, roasted nuts, etc)).  Whether it is practical or not.  That is what I meant.

    If the steam emitted from the baked potatoes is messing with other items in your walk-in, then take them off the menu, get a bigger walk-in, or get the par level down so you don't have leftovers.

    It's a pet peeve of mine.  I won't stand for it.

    Are we talking hot smoked salmon versus cold smoked salmon here?  I think that might be were our lines are crossing.  No?

    I'm used to working with hot smoked salmon, so I assumed that's what we talking about.
     
  20. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Never leave anything out to cool at room temp (exception baked goods) Put the foods in a cold water bath whenever possible. The faster the chill down th better , You can put hot food in walk in But you must go in every 10 minutes to stir or turn over, this process is not reccomended.  Not to be done in a home fridge as they are to small.