The CDC and the EPA have been recommending the use of disinfectant during the course of the pandemic, since disinfectant is a bit more effective in killing viral pathogens (particularly COVID-19) than sanitizer. However, more is not better in this case – so if you’re using disinfectant, ensure your staff apply it to surfaces properly and safely. Disinfectant should be used on high-touch surfaces like door handles but is not safe for food contact surfaces. Cleaning and sanitizing food contact surfaces regularly is sufficient to keep those areas clean and safe.
Masks will be with us for a while longer and they are critical to keep the spread of COVID-19 in check this winter. Make sure your employees know how to place, remove and care for their mask in a way that minimizes the risk for contamination. They should wash hands before and after putting on a mask, adjusting it or removing it – and only handle a mask by its loops or ties in order to avoid touching their mouth, nose and eyes. The mask should fit snugly against the face, covering the nose, mouth and chin. Throw away disposable masks or launder cloth ones after use and don’t ever share masks with others. Need help sourcing masks and other PPE? Team Four can help with that, we have an on-line store at https://www.promoplace.com/1000376/Preview
This has been a year when restaurants have had to do more with less – and it’s understandable if overdue maintenance and repairs have had to take a backseat to other concerns. But the colder weather means that your restaurant could quickly become a warm haven for pests (and a problem for business) if you don’t take precautions to discourage them from entering and multiplying. Be alert to potential signs of a problem – such as gnaw marks or feces – and have an exterminator in as soon as possible if you discover them. Seal off cracks and crevices around and inside your facility and regularly check hidden areas where pests might lurk, such as around pipes and under or around appliances.
This year has provided a stark wake-up call about the importance of protecting the safety of our food. Up-and-coming technology called hyperspectral imaging, which can detect pathogens in food, optimize the uniformity of a product’s quality and even help with precision agriculture, has been gaining ground rapidly in the food safety industry this year. In the coming months, it’s an additional feature to watch for and discuss with food suppliers and distributors, particularly as more foodservice operations adopt speed-scratch food products to help boost efficiency. Learn more about the technology here (https://bit.ly/2JcwyHC).
Holiday gatherings and buffets go hand-in-hand – well, they did until 2020. If you have served food buffet-style in the past, you have no doubt reinvented it for the current environment or replaced it altogether. If you’re still offering this service in some form, consider these precautions to help protect safety: Have your staff (wearing PPE) serve each guest and provide new dishes and cutlery. Enforce social distancing and mask-wearing for guests waiting in line. Serve items in self-contained, miniature form. Provide the option of a scaled-down buffet sampler for each table to avoid having guests circulate – or even offer a “buffet in a box” take-away option. Have staff (again wearing PPE) circulate with trays carrying pre-portioned items, cocktail-party style, that they can serve to each table. Buffets are like a kid-in-a-candy-store kind of experience. How can you replicate that feeling while protecting everyone’s safety?
This year has asked so much of restaurant operators – as innovators, entrepreneurs, managers and neighbors. While it’s natural for people in the service profession to look for ways to serve guests well, taking care of staff – and themselves – can take a backseat. But the well-being of a restaurant’s entire team trickles down through your business and impacts all of your relationships. The slower period this winter may be a time to refocus on strengthening your team from the inside out. Mental health in restaurants was a central theme of the recent Chefs’ Congress in Lisbon. According to this report in Forbes, the event incorporated videos, workshops and techniques designed to allow owners, chefs, cooks and workers to better understand how to manage teams, partner with human resources, and increase awareness of workers' rights and risk factors. It even offered anonymous therapy sessions for restaurant professionals. As awareness of these issues grows, such events can provide teaching tools and other resources for operators regardless of where they do business.
This is a time of year when people (your employees included) want to gather with friends and family, and perhaps travel to celebrate the season. How can you ensure they don’t come to work with the virus and inadvertently spread it to others? First, be understanding of their desire to be with others – but also reinforce their responsibility to keep your workplace safe. Employees should not come to work with any symptoms of COVID-19 (or flu, for that matter). If an employee has plans to travel outside of the country, make sure they understand and follow quarantine rules upon their return – or at least provide you with a doctor’s note that clears them to work. If you do have a case of COVID-19 on your team, inform your other employees of their potential exposure but maintain the confidentiality of the infected person. Addressing it quickly and with transparency will prevent rumors from spreading and demonstrate to customers and staff that you can be trusted to protect their safety.
‘Tis the season to enjoy not only big holiday spreads but also the leftovers that come after. As you order and store ingredients and prepared dishes, make sure you’re up to date on the dating of all items you’re saving for later. Check to make sure your inventory is organized according to first-in, first-out standards to minimize spoilage and waste.