The Iceologists are thrilled to unveil a new series of blogs about food safety by guest author, Kevin Scott.  Kevin is the National Accounts Manager for ServSafe, the National Restaurant Association’s food handling and safety training division. Kevin works with national accounts, large independent trainers and public health authorities, among other major entities, to provide strategic solutions for education, training and certification, for the ServSafe Food Safety and Responsible Alcohol Service programs.  Take it away, Kevin!

As an industry “lifer” (from growing up on an Eastern MD farm, to the back of the house and world travels in food production and global logistics roles), I’ve come to the conclusion there is one cardinal rule in foodservice: It has to be safe! Beyond that – taste preference is personal. What you can’t get enough of, another person detests.

As an operator, keeping food safe should not be something you do because you have to for the health authority, insurance liability, etc., You should consider food safety (and ice safety) as a key pillar of a customer service strategy.

The most recent CDC numbers regarding food-borne illness: 3,000 deaths per year; 128,000 hospitalizations, 48 million instances of food-borne illness (when in a ServSafe training class, I ask folks that have experienced a food-borne illness to raise their hands – and then tell everyone to raise their hands). A “sterile” outlook would be that 3,000 deaths are statistically insignificant. Not if it’s your child, loved one, or friend.

food safety, ice safety, food handling trainingThe human loss is tragic. Even without dying, the impact on those afflicted can range from lost work (and income) to long-lasting after symptoms (such as joint aches from certain toxins like ciguatera poisoning) and living each day wondering if your severe food allergy might go “anaphylactic” without warning. The 13 year old son of friends almost died from E. coli (which they never determined the source of) – leading to months of recovery for this all-star baseball player, not to mention school time missed.

The loss to business can be catastrophic when food-borne illness strikes. Lost revenue. Lawsuits and civil payouts. Increased insurance premiums. Loss of good staff (let’s face it – we all need good folks and those with talent can work anywhere they want). Added scrutiny from public health (for good reason) – and the list goes on.

That is why what we do at ServSafe (a program of the National Restaurant Association) is so important. Food-borne illnesses are in the news somewhere everyday, with web services dedicated to announcing said events. An outbreak of food-borne sickness at one restaurant affects all operators. In this age of multi-units, an outbreak at one franchisee will affect all units under that brand’s banner.

Our objective with this blog is to help better inform and advise Easy Ice followers to the importance and opportunity to keep food safe (and yes, ice is a food item!) and effective ways to train staff.

Protecting guests, staff and your business is what ServSafe (and its predecessor – Applied Foodservice Sanitation) has been working at for 40+ years – certifying over 5 MILLION food safety managers in that time.

I look forward to the opportunity to discuss food and ice safety with you, Easy Ice readers, in more detail in upcoming guest blogs.   If you have any questions or topics you’d like me to address, please send them my way via the comments section below.

Keep it safe!