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The Silent Epidemic   Date: Sunday 26 February, 2006
News Summary:
In their determination to win the war for customer loyalty, many restaurants are ultimately making consumers the loser.

News Content:
The Silent Epidemic

In their determination to win the war for customer loyalty, many restaurants are ultimately making consumers the loser.

How? One of the most potentially hazardous ways is by cutting corners when it comes to food safety.
Although millions are spent training employees in customer service, very little in time or money is spent on Food Safety Training. And it shows to the trained eye.

But in all fairness, because there is so much safe mass production of food product before it hits the retail location, many fast food operators do a fair job; on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being best we would rate them as a 7 or 8.

On the surface, that rating looks decent. Remember, however, we’re not speaking of a popularity contest or a beauty contest.
We’re talking about a consumer’s health and safety, and even one percentage point can make a difference.

Before we get into the ratings and potential violations of these major fast food operators here is some background information along with the main reasons they are failing to provide safe food practices.

Clean vs. Sanitary
Clean means free of visible soil. Sanitary means free of harmful levels of contamination. Clean food, equipment, and utensils may not be sanitary.

And don’t forget about hands.
An employee who comes in contact with food should be constantly washing his hands. Furthermore, as long as an employee touches an area a consumer will touch or place his lips on, you cannot say it is sanitary. An example we always see in fast food outlets is a cashier handing a paper-drinking cup to the customer with his fingers grabbing the rim of the cup. This is uncalled for and a blatant violation.

Of all microorganisms, bacteria should be the greatest concern to foodservice operators. Bacteria can be carried by water, wind, insects, plants, animals, and people.
Bacteria survive well on skin and clothes and in human hair, scabs, scars, the mouth, nose, and throat. Once they contaminate human hands, bacteria may end up in food.

Commonly referred to as Staph is found on the skin, nose and hands of 50% of all people. This also means 50% of all your employees. The major means of prevention is the washing of hands.

Employee Turnover
According to the National Restaurant Association the retail food industry has a 50 to 75% employee turnover rate. This compounds the food safety situation because there is an ongoing training program of new employees. And the problem arises when the training is often rushed and food safety is never addressed.

Labor Pool
Because fast food establishments are on the low end of the pay scale the industry must draw from minorities, young people and senior citizens. All of which are not adequately educated in Food Safety Procedures.

Education and On-Going Training
Until Fast Food Operators begin to take responsibility and push for better Food Safety education along with an on-going training program, they and the loyal consumer they are vying for will be the loser.

Remember: The slogan, We Love To See You Smile, means nothing to a customer sick from contaminated food

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