Restaurant food safety studies yield disturbing data

In a recent study of restaurant safety practices, 62% of restaurant workers handling raw ground beef with their bare hands did not wash before handling other ready-to-eat foods or cooked ground beef. That was just one of many statistics brought to light by a series of studies of restaurant food safety practices published in the December edition of the Journal of Food Protection and organized by the Environmental Health Specialists Network ( EHS-Net) within the United States Centers for Disease Control. and Prevention. According to the CDC, EHS-Net was created to research the risk of foodborne illness associated with restaurants in an effort to better prevent outbreaks. Between the four studies, the researchers looked at food safety practices at hundreds of restaurants across the country. Food Safety News will highlight the results of the studies during this week. Here are some of the results from two of the studies: Ground Beef Handling and Cooking Practices in Eight States (article link) EHS-Net researchers studied 385 restaurants in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Minnesota, New York, Oregon and Tennessee to determine common ground beef handling practices, a potential vector of E. coli and Salmonella.

  • 71% of managers said workers were required to notify a manager when they had symptoms of gastrointestinal illness such as diarrhea or stomach cramps. 28 said workers were not required to mention they were sick.
  • 20% of managers said their restaurants had issued a consumer advisory about the risk of eating undercooked hamburgers or ground beef. 77% did not. (62% of restaurants with reviews were in the three states in the study that required them by law: New York, Georgia and Connecticut.)
  • 77% of managers said their restaurants rarely or never measure the temperature of cooked burgers with a thermometer.
  • In 62% of restaurants, workers handling raw ground beef did not wash their hands before handling other ready-to-eat foods or cooked ground beef.
  • In 42% of restaurants, utensils were not washed between contact with raw ground beef and other ready-to-eat foods or cooked ground beef.
  • Workers have been observed wiping their hands on rags or aprons after handling raw ground beef – but without washing their hands – in 40% of restaurants.
  • 29% of managers had not heard of irradiated ground beef, while only 1% said their restaurant used irradiated ground beef. (Irradiation is a process of pasteurizing food by exposing it to ionizing radiation).

Practices for handling fresh leafy greens in restaurants: reception and training (article link) There were 127 outbreaks linked to leafy greens between 2004 and 2008, more than half of which originated in restaurants. Researchers surveyed 439 restaurant kitchen managers about their leafy greens handling practices.

  • 65% (266 of 411) of kitchen managers said their restaurants rejected a delivery of leafy greens for a number of reasons: appearance (browning, wilting, tearing, rotting, mold and/or dirt): 96, 6%, 257 out of 266); product moisture (soggy or dripping: 26.3%, 70); bad aroma or taste: 10.9%, 29; required label missing: 8.3%, 22%; product out of temperature range: 7.5%, 20, and other conditions such as insects, non-approved supplier and damaged packaging: 8.6%, 23.
  • Almost 50% of leafy greens arrived at the restaurant at temperatures above 41 degrees F (5 degrees C) and almost 30% arrived above 45 degrees F (7.2 degrees C). Temperatures above 45 degrees F can allow easy growth of bacterial pathogens on greens.
  • 423 chefs responded when asked how many chefs in their restaurant were food safety certified; 31% (132) had no food safety certified kitchen manager, 33% (141) had a certified kitchen manager, 21.7% (92) had two certified kitchen managers, 7.6% (32) had three certified kitchen managers, 5 percent (21) had four certified kitchen managers, and 3.1 percent (13) had five or more certified kitchen managers. “A certified kitchen manager can provide oversight and knowledge that can reduce the risk of contamination and growth of pathogens when receiving, storing, and handling leafy greens,” the authors wrote.
  • In 2010, California lawmakers implemented a mandate that nearly all food handlers in the state needed food safety certification. The City of San Diego adopted the practices earlier and found that after five years there was a 60% decrease in restaurant food safety violations and a 50% increase in food handler knowledge. food.

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