As I’m sure most of you know, we have seen an increase in food allergies in the United States over the past two decades. The science and theories about why that is happening is a topic for another day. However, the rise in food allergies has had a major impact on restaurants and food service establishments. As we see an increase in food allergies, we need to see an increase in food allergy training. This is happening, slowly, in food service across the country. Over the past few years, more allergy training courses and certifications have been developed, and regulations for training and notifications have been put into place. But more needs to be done to educate and train food service employees around safely and successfully accommodating food allergies.
Let’s review some basic food allergy statistics. Approximately 15 million people in the United States have food allergies, including 9 million adults and 6 million children. The 8 most common allergies – including milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts – make up 90% of American’s food allergies. Keep in mind, though, there are many other foods that people may be allergic to. In fact, there are over 160 foods that have been identified as an allergen, including some spices. The CDC has found that between 1997 – 2007 there was an 18% increase in allergy rates in children. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include itching, swelling, stomach cramps, vomiting, dizziness, and even death. It is important that food employees get proper training to protect their customers from illness and, potentially, death. Along with concerns about proper procedures for food allergens, we must also protect customers with food intolerances and sensitivities and those with Celiac Disease.
Food service employees need to understand the risks associated with food allergies and ways they can prevent allergic reactions from happening to their customers. Proper training is required to learn about the allergens, how to avoid cross-contact, the importance of labeling, and how to engage in open communication with the customers…
To read more from Total Food Service, click here.
- 20 million people get sick from norovirus each year, most from close contact with infected people or by eating contaminated food
- Norovirus is the leading cause of disease outbreaks from contaminated food in the US
- Infected food workers cause about 70% of reported norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food
What is Norovirus?
It is a virus that can make you miserable for 1-3 days and is thought to be the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis, which causes diarrhea and vomiting.
“Noroviruses are sometimes called food poisoning, because they can be transmitted through food that’s been contaminated with the virus. They aren’t always the result of food contamination, though” (WebMD).
People can become infected when they eat or drink contaminated foods and beverages. Other foods related to outbreaks are raw or undercooked oysters and raw fruits and vegetables. WebMD further states that, “you can get infected if you touch an object or surface that has been infected with the virus and then touch your nose, mouth, or eyes”.
Ways to Prevent Norovirus
According to FDA model Food Code and CDC Guidelines, all food service workers should follow the following guidelines:
- Stay home when sick — for at least 48 hours after symptoms stop
- Wear gloves — wearing single-use gloves avoids touching food with bare hands and possible contamination
- Wash your hands — wash thoroughly, and wash often!
- Rinse fruits and vegetables
- Clean and sanitize all surfaces and utensils — sanitizing regularly with chlorine-based product or other sanitizers approved by the Environmental Protection Agency has been approved for use against norovirus
- Cook food, especially shellfish, thoroughly — 140 degrees F is considered undercooked; avoid serving undercooked oysters and other shellfish
Illinois switch: On-the-farm raw milk sales now legal
Food Safety News
Two years of tweaking raw milk policies in Illinois has opened the state to legal raw milk sales for the first time in 30 years, but only on the farm where it is produced.
The change comes as a result of a regulatory process involving the Illinois Department of Public Health and the state’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. It marks a compromise that ends so-called milk clubs that were known for making deliveries in the Chicago area by prohibiting any off-the-farm sales.
Raw milk is milk that hasn’t been pasteurized with heat to kill pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria and campylobacter.
In the Land of Lincoln raw milk fetches $8 to $18 per gallon.
Read more here.