Salsa Verde and Our Pals at the Health Department

22
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Joined May 17, 2012
Hey friends

I'm working for a small fast casual chain, and every 5 inspections or so (across 20 units) we are getting popped for the same thing: italian salsa verde at room temp.  Some counties never care, some do. 

It's a basic recipe:

fresh parsley & rosemary, washed, chopped

EVO

lemon juice

garlic powder & red chili flake

S&P

I've tried to ask the stores to hold on an ice-bath at expo, but the EVO thickens the whole thing up when cold so it inevitably ends up just sitting on the counter. Hard to blame them.  

Hot-holding changes the dish, and just burns the flavor out in a day anyways. 

Takes at most 2 days to go through a 32 oz bottle, usually much less, so we're turning it over pretty quick. 

Scratching my head over here, I'm sure there's an easy answer.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/confused.gif

Any thoughts on operational or even recipe tweaks that would appease the health inspector?

Thanks!
 
1,832
538
Joined Aug 15, 2003
Could you do something like make a large "master" batch (kept in the fridge) and then pull out to room temp in smaller amounts for service? As long as you label/date the small batch with a time stamp (say 11/09 1:00-5:00pm) and time expiration and toss any left when it "expires" you should be OK. 

As long as you are at or under the cutoff for room temp storage it should be fine. 
 
G

Guest

Guest
can you separate the recipe into parts and cold hold the product that needs to be cold  with the Evo separate and blend to order? 

could have a ratio issues when doing things on the fly so that would have to be wached

someday is right you have a 4 hour window for product and then its got to be trash or heated above 160, the danger zone time maximum, active time logs will save you here.  a clipboard that is marked off at least every 4 hours or every container change

like blanc, hollandaise etc any of the danger zone held items will always get you knocked unless you have the data tracking to show that its been time marked.
 
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4,474
421
Joined Jun 27, 2012
Ask the inspector for advice.

Most never get a civil conversation and you would be surprised at how friendly they can be when approached.

mimi
 
2,480
763
Joined Feb 8, 2009
This is your Recipe: 

It's a basic recipe:

fresh parsley & rosemary, washed, chopped

EVO

lemon juice

garlic powder & red chili flake

S&P

If the Health dept were to look up recipes it would say to refrigerate over night. My question would be to ask, If all the ingredients in this mixture don't need refrigeration by themselves, do the combined ingredients need to be kept cold. The reason why your having a problem is because none of the Health inspectors really know the answer. You may have to go outside of the health dept and get this recipe evaluated to see what it requires. This way you could have a written evaluation from a quality source backing up why your doing what your doing. When it comes to Safety in food service there is no "middle ground" there is only yes or no. 

P.S. then take the Health inspector over to Dairy Queen and ask why it's ok to leave ketchup on the tables at room temp. 
 
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4,699
931
Joined Aug 21, 2004
While I totally agree with @ChefBillyB, at the same time, with 20 units do you want to go through that 20 times and then again whenever a new/different inspector shows up to do the inspection.

Cut the EVOO 50/50 with sunflower oil, end of congealing/solidifying problem.
 

pete

Moderator
Staff member
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Joined Oct 7, 2001
 
While I totally agree with @ChefBillyB, at the same time, with 20 units do you want to go through that 20 times and then again whenever a new/different inspector shows up to do the inspection.

Cut the EVOO 50/50 with sunflower oil, end of congealing/solidifying problem.
I'm just stubborn enough and contrary enough, that if I knew that it was completely safe I would go through it again and again just to teach the health inspector something.  But that's just me, and I can be a royal PITA sometimes.
 
166
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Joined Aug 26, 2016
If you're day dotting anyway (and I'm sure you are), just label with the four hour expiration & make the inspector happy.  

It can't be that satisfying to argue about something in which you're obviously in violation.  

The solution is to use the "time" method to your advantage.  
 
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4,699
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
 
I'm just stubborn enough and contrary enough, that if I knew that it was completely safe I would go through it again and again just to teach the health inspector something.  But that's just me, and I can be a royal PITA sometimes.
Been that route with a rosemary olive oil that I put on tables. Health department couldn't show me any documented reasons why it was unsafe. Organic rosemary, washed, blanched in vinegar. Still wouldn't concede, went round and round and round. Kept going up the ladder and nobody had a concrete answer. They would check with their boss and get back to me. Never did except to tell me that I couldn't do it Finally gave up and changed to a trio of condiments; sun dried tomato pesto, a date hummus, and a honey rosemary butter to shut them up.
Originally Posted by Jay Lancaster  

It can't be that satisfying to argue about something in which you're obviously in violation.  
What is the violation?
 
G

Guest

Guest
 
It can't be that satisfying to argue about something in which you're obviously in violation.  
What is the violation?
chopped ingredients have the potential for cross contamination 

also lemon juice can spoil 

both of these reasons are enough for the health department to give a violation for room temp storage 

but mostly its because of the world salsa

to the op 

can you change the item description and describe it as an infused oil instead of a salsa? just to appease the health inspector that has probably never cooked anything in his/her life that has somewhere on his list that "salsa" is a product that must be refrigerated? 
 
4,699
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
Lemons are at room temperature in the grocery store, plus they are acidic...how can the juice spoil? What would be the source of contamination in chopped parsley and rosemary to have a cross over effect?
 
G

Guest

Guest
 natural sugars and such can form mold, ive seen it happen, i have also seen a container of lemon juice spoil to the point that it generated its own carbonation  

using pasteurized pulp free lemon juice can cut down on the likelihood of this happening 

if the cutting board you are using is unclean anything that is cut on it will be covered in that bacteria 

ive been through the food saftey manager course so many times now i could get a job teaching it 

thing about health inspectors, they dont care about preparation methods or history of how things were done before refrigeration, they go by whatever the government book tells them and real world experience and knowledge of food is irrelevant to them 

also they are not permitted to give out a perfect score, some asshat a long time ago used it as a marketing tool and from that point on nobody has ever gotten a perfect score. you can have the cleanest kitchen ever and the will nitpick something because they have to mark you for at least 1 thing 
 
166
42
Joined Aug 26, 2016
 
What is the violation?
Mainly the time/temp rule that most departments have ingrained into their inspectors because of their Servsafe training.  

With that said, you could have a pH test performed (which a salsa verde would likely pass as they tend to be fairly acidic).  Then present your plan to the health department to get a variance.  
 

pete

Moderator
Staff member
4,509
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Joined Oct 7, 2001
 
also they are not permitted to give out a perfect score, some asshat a long time ago used it as a marketing tool and from that point on nobody has ever gotten a perfect score. you can have the cleanest kitchen ever and the will nitpick something because they have to mark you for at least 1 thing 
Maybe in your neck of the woods, but before the health departments here went to grades (A, B,...F) I knew of a couple of places, very few, but a couple of places that actually received 100's.
 
4,699
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
 
 natural sugars and such can form mold, ive seen it happen, i have also seen a container of lemon juice spoil to the point that it generated its own carbonation  
We are talking about the time period of a meal service.
 
if the cutting board you are using is unclean anything that is cut on it will be covered in that bacteria 
That has nothing to do with the inherent biological properties of the ingredients.
 
ive been through the food saftey manager course so many times now i could get a job teaching it 
I have in the past.
 

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