Heightened roles for restaurant managers and voluntary certification programs may be part of your restaurant company’s future food borne outbreak defense plan.
That was the position of three food safety professionals who spoke during the 10th Annual Nation’s Restaurant News Food Safety Symposium, sponsored by Ecolab, which was held Oct. 4-6 in Newport, R.I.
Miriam Eisenberg, manager of food safety and public health for the EcoSure division of Ecolab, offered her thoughts about what might be included in future additions of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Model Food Code.
Eisenberg said that restaurant managers will become “more and more crucial as an applied science team member as we go forward.”
She noted that some states and other jurisdictions, either on their own or by adopting “certified food-protection manager” provisions from the 2011 Food Code supplement, now require that foodservice establishments have a supervisory employee certified for food safety knowledge by an American National Standards Institute-accredited program. That requirement compares with an older requirement still used by some jurisdictions that such a person in charge “demonstrate knowledge” in a less formal way.
“It is important that you keep your eyes on that and know if you have to be certified or not,” Eisenberg said.
She said operators also need to better understand “active managerial control,” an increasingly cited concept in regulatory circles.
“It is thinking about them [managers] as being the person who answers to the regulatory agency when they come in,” Eisenberg said. Among other things, she added, “There is more information that is being required of them, in terms of understanding disease monitoring for foodborne illnesses.”
The 2015 Food Code supplement talked about managers needing to be able to verify and monitor cooking temperatures, holding temperatures, hot and cold, and cooling temperatures, she said, but is not particularly clear about how they are to do that. Eisenberg said her group is a strong believer in checklists, but such changes will require more checklists and training people to do more checklists and then monitoring the checklists.
“So it really is becoming more of a mini HACCP [manufacturing like hazard analysis critical control points process] in terms of what you do every day,” she said. Again referring to managers she urged, “Help them understand and learn because it is putting more of a burden on their shoulders.”
“I think the next big thing we will be looking for is allergens” centered, Eisenberg said of likely additions to future Food Code editions, although she acknowledged that she has not seen clues as to whether such rules would be around training or simpler requirements such as allergen awareness posters or menu notices.
Apart from hearing about the Food Code and the latest developments around the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act, as highlighted by Ruth Petran, Ecolab vice president of food safety and public health, conference participants were briefed on news from the Global Food Safety Initiative, or GFSI.
An industry-driven global collaborative platform to advance food safety that initially focused on manufacturers and two years ago began developing guidance for the retail industry, GFSI this year launched a technical working group to create the concepts around which compliance schemes and certification programs could be built for the benefit of foodservice food safety.