Expert Interview – Improving Food Safety Programs

September is National Food Safety Month. That said, it was fitting to speak with Rick Grandfield, Dade Paper’s Director of Janitorial Sales, for this month’s Expert Interview. Rick oversees Dade Paper’s growing janitorial sales program which includes the company’s exclusive EatSafe® Program. He spends a great deal of time working in the field with the company’s team of consultants helping foodservice operators ensure they meet the requirements of a sound food safety protocol.

LC: How many years have you been working with restaurants and other foodservice operators to help them improve their food safety programs?

RG: I’ve been in the cleaning industry for 30 years, the last 15 years with Dade Paper. Part of my role has been to develop consultative cleaning programs for our customers, helping them implement effective and safe processes.

LC: What changes have you seen over that period of time and what are the impact of those changes?

RG: In the foodservice segment there much are stricter government regulations as well as more stringent guidelines for voluntary programs such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point.) This places more focus on both the flow of food as well as kitchen sanitation. Operators need to ensure they are compliant or face potential fines and damage to their reputation.

There is also much more consumer awareness of food safety issues. The internet has made it very easy for customers to look up information online. If they see reports of health code violations or negative reviews or posts on social media about dirty restrooms they are likely to take their business elsewhere. The cleanliness of the dining room and restrooms is very important to guest satisfaction. Another trend is the open-kitchen concept where diners can view into the food preparation area.

LC: What steps should a foodservice operator take to ensure their food safety processes are effective?

RG: First and foremost, be sure to understand and comply with state regulations. Some areas to pay particular attention to include the parts per million of sanitizer in the 3-compartment sink, having proper hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer available for staff, and using a quaternary sanitizer which is more effective and safer than bleach. Another important area to focus on is the floor. Many restaurants have quarry tile in the kitchen which can harbor bacteria and become very slippery. Using bio-enzymatic cleaners and using grease resistant anti-fatigue matting not only helps keep the kitchen clean but prevents slip-fall accidents.

I also recommend having a well-planned training program for staff members. For anyone handling food, I recommend ServSafe® training. For those responsible for the cleaning of the establishment, training including the safe and proper use of chemicals is important. These training programs are available from industry associations and supplier partners such as Dade Paper.

LC: What are some areas that you have seen where food safety programs can be enhanced?

RG: A comprehensive food safety program goes beyond the kitchen. Proper cleaning of the front-of-the-house and restrooms are also important. Sanitizing surfaces including floors, dining tables, counter tops, high-chairs and even menus prevents the spread of bacteria. Restrooms are also critical. Make sure they are clean and stocked with towel and tissue products, hand-soap and hand-washing signage. These are all elements of Dade Paper’s EatSafe® Program which focuses on the patron areas of a restaurant or cafeteria.

Rick Grandfield and his team are available to consult with foodservice operators about the various aspects of a food safety program. He can be reached at rgrandfield@dadepaper.com.

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