Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Big 8 and cross-contact subject of National Food Safety Month, Week 1

“Avoid a Reaction by Taking Action” is the theme of the 2013 National Food Safety Education Month, an annual awareness campaign by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) in partnership with the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA).  Due to the 15 million Americans with food allergies, the campaign spotlights the communication, training and education needed to attract these diners (and their families) and more importantly, provide them a safe meal.

A food allergy results when the immune systems mistakenly attacks a food protein (food allergen). While more than 160 food items can cause allergic reactions, just 8 of those accounts for 90 percent of all reactions. These 8 foods are known as the “Big 8.”
Cross-contact is the transfer of an allergen from a food containing the allergen to a food that does not contain the allergen. One of the most important ways you can keep guests with food allergies safe is by preventing cross-contact.
Here are steps to avoid cross-contact:
  • Wash, rinse and sanitize cookware, utensils and equipment after handling a food allergen.
  • Wash your hands and change gloves before prepping food.
  • Use separate fryers and cooking oils when frying food for guests with food allergens.
  • Prep food for guests with food allergens in a separate area.
Here are a few True/False questions to test your knowledge:
  1. It is okay to use the same spoon to scoop peanuts and greens at a salad bar. True/False
  2. Do not bake chocolate chip cookies on the same baking sheet as peanut butter cookies. True/False
  3. It is acceptable to handle a banana-nut muffin and a chocolate chip muffin with the same pair of gloves. True/False
The NRA recently launched ServSafe Allergens, an online, interactive 90-minute training course to assist restaurateurs and foodservice personnel in understanding and communicating the risks associated with serving guests with food allergies. The course is $22 and can be accessed here.

Visit LRAblogs each week for a new activity to train and educate you on properly accommodating guests with food allergies.  
Answers: #1 False; #2 True; and #3 False.

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