When it comes to food safety, it’s always important to be vigilant, but when you’re a food safety certified manager in a Minnesota institution that provides meal service for elderly residents, patients recovering from surgery or those with special needs, it’s vitally important to be diligent to keep your food safe. This week, we’d like to discuss a few extra precautions that you may wish to keep in mind during your daily routine.
ServSafe Safety Tips for Medical Institutions
Our first tip is to make sure that all utensils, preparation surfaces and serving wares are properly sanitized. You may feel that this is an idea that has been ingrained into your daily habits since the day you passed your first food safety class, but there can be dangers in haphazard sanitation. One such danger is over or under mixing your sanitizer solution. Under-mixed solution can leave bacteria on surfaces that will come into contact with prepared foods, while over-mixed solution can lead to dangerous chemicals being ingested by patients that are most at risk from feeling the harmful effects of bleach, ammonia solutions or iodine. Make sure to keep sanitizer test strips readily available to test your solution on a regular basis.
Secondly, it’s important to make sure that all raw fruits and vegetables are washed thoroughly, even those claiming to be ready to serve. Fruits and vegetables can potentially come into contact with dirt, fertilizer and other hazards before they reach your facility. They are often stored unsealed in warehouses before transport and loosely stored when shipped. Many bagged greens such as lettuce and spinach claim to be ready to eat, but some potential for contamination does exist, and since you’re serving meals to those who have a high risk of food-borne illness, it may be wise to take the extra precaution of washing all greens.
Our third suggestion is to be extremely diligent when it comes to keeping records of your guest’s allergies. Many institutions face a high rate of turnover as one patient departs and another arrives. During these transitions, allergy information can often be overlooked. Detailed records of each guest’s personal needs will help avoid accidents. It may even be a good idea to eliminated high-risk items such as nuts and shellfish from your facility altogether.
With most food safety training focusing on the hospitality and food production industries, we’d like to know what food-safety issues arise for food safety certified managers of food service in institutions such as assisted living facilities and medical care centers. Are there any aspects that current food safety training overlooks when it comes to your situation?