Increased roles for restaurant managers and voluntary certification programs can be part of your restaurant business’ future foodborne outbreak defense plan.
That was the position of three food safety professionals who spoke at the Nation’s Restaurant News 10th Annual Food Safety Symposium, sponsored by Ecolab, held October 4-6 in Newport, RI.
Miriam Eisenberg, Food Safety and Public Health Manager for Ecolab’s EcoSure Division, shared her thoughts on what could be included in future additions to the US Food and Drug Administration’s Model Food Code. United.
The Food Code, which is updated every four years but may have annual additional information appended, had its last complete edition published in 2013. It is intended to assist local, state and federal jurisdictions by providing a basic scientifically sound technical and legal to regulate food retailers and services. Provisions from editions published as early as 1995 or as recent as 2013 have been incorporated in part or in full into the regulations of more than 3,000 regulatory bodies.
Eisenberg said restaurant managers will become “increasingly crucial as a member of the applied science team as we move forward.”
She noted that some states and other jurisdictions, either by themselves or by adopting the “certified food safety officer” provisions of the 2011 Food Code Supplement, now require food service establishments to have a supervisory employee certified in food safety knowledge by a US standards organization. Institute accredited program. This requirement compares to an older requirement still used by some jurisdictions that such a Responsible Person “demonstrate knowledge” in a less formal manner.
“It’s important that you keep an eye on this and know whether you need to be certified or not,” Eisenberg said.
She said operators also needed to better understand “active management control,” a concept increasingly cited in regulatory circles.
“It’s thinking about them [managers] as being the person who responds to the regulatory agency when they walk in,” Eisenberg said. Among other things, she added, “they are being asked for more information, in terms of understanding foodborne disease surveillance.”
The 2015 food code supplement talked about managers needing to be able to check and monitor cooking temperatures, holding temperatures, hot and cold temperatures and cooling temperatures, she said, but is not particularly clear on how they should do this. Eisenberg said his group is a firm believer in checklists, but such changes will require more checklists and training people to do more checklists and then monitor the checklists.
“So it really becomes more of a mini HACCP [manufacturing like hazard analysis critical control points process] in terms of what you do every day,” she said.
Referring again to managers, she urged: “Help them understand and learn, because it puts an extra burden on them.”
“I think the next big thing we’ll be looking at is allergen-centric,” Eisenberg said of likely additions to future editions of the food code, though she acknowledged she didn’t see any clues. as to whether these rules would relate to training or simpler requirements such as allergen awareness posters or menu notices.
In addition to hearing about the food code and the latest developments regarding the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act, as highlighted by Ruth Petran, vice president of food safety and public health at Ecolab, conference attendees were briefed on news from the Global Food Safety Initiative, or GFSI. .
An industry-focused global collaborative platform to advance food safety that initially focused on manufacturers and began developing guidelines for the retail industry two years ago, GFSI has launched a technical working group this year to create the concepts around which compliance systems and certification programs could be built to benefit foodservice food safety.
Harmonize food safety requirements, find out more
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Tom Ford, vice president of food and food safety for Ecolab’s global retail services arm, which is part of the GFSI working group for foodservice, explained how the compliance and certification program in development could be aimed at operators.
“You have a business component that you build your systems on – you have callback procedures, you have training programs, you have vendor programs – and all of that is housed in your business entity. And then you have this [system] adopted at the restaurant level,” he said. “They [auditors] are going to have to spend some time at your head office to see if the systems are appropriate and match what the plans say they should and what the key elements say they should and then they’ll go to your restaurants to see if that actually happens. ”
Ford said it believes its technical task force could complete its work next March in Berlin, although it conceded it will still be some time before a viable program is in place for the restoration, because the underlying infrastructure, such as third-party compliance programs—party companies and an army of skilled auditors needed to verify compliance—does not yet exist. However, he said, the retailer program is close to fruition and its launch should provide clues as to how voluntary GFSI certification will be received by the targeted industry.
“The first thing you’ll see is going to be a chain of grocery stores around the world saying, ‘I’m certified,’ and your senior management is going, ‘What is this? and you’re going to say, ‘Two years from now, we’ll be chasing this too,’ Ford predicted, adding later that he thinks doing the right thing and ‘peer pressure’ will be a strong motivation to business owners. to be certified.
Cindy Jiang, head of global food safety and supply chain compliance for McDonald’s Corp., which is also active in GFSI programs, explained, “The reason we want to do this is that we want to harmonize food safety requirements for retail and catering. ”
“We have seen the benefits of having globally recognized food safety programs for manufacturers, and now more and more governments – for example the US FDA, and in Canada, Holland and China – are trying to take advantage of GFSI food safety certification in their countries,” she said.
Along with the other obvious incentives to support strong universal food safety standards and compliance programs, Jiang said such an approach should also be attractive to companies interested in greater efficiency.
Contact Alan J. Liddle at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @AJ_NRN