Feature Article - November 2005
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Handy Solutions to Common Problems

By Stacy St. Clair, Jenny E. Beeh and Kelli Anderson

How To Improve Food Safety at Your Concessions

Each year, food-borne diseases cause about 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the United States. Don't let your facility be the cause of a single case.

In addition to creating the obvious bad will among customers, food-borne illnesses can lead to lawsuits and force businesses to go under. Fortunately, these hazards can be avoided easily by following a few simple rules when storing, preparing and serving food.


The first step toward preventing food-borne illness is demanding cleanliness. To this end, post signs around the concession stand reminding employees to wash their hands before serving food. If you have employees who are not fluent in English, write signs that explain and encourage hand washing in their native languages. After preparing food, all cutting boards, utensils and counters should be washed in hot, soapy water. Store wiping cloths in a sanitizing solution made up of bleach and water. It's also important to have an ample supply of paper towels and soap available.


You also can take several steps to ensure that your food does not get contaminated. Instruct employees to use a clean plate for cooked food. Cooked food should never be placed on a plate that previously held raw food. All food items should be covered whenever possible. All food items also should be stored at least six inches off the floor to minimize contamination and allow for proper floor cleaning.


Proper cooking also plays a critical role in preventing food-borne illnesses. When cooking in a microwave oven, cover food, rotate and stir for even cooking. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot foods should be maintained at a minimum 140şF, while cooler foods should be kept at 41şF or below.

Be proactive and select cooking equipment that promotes food safety. Consider a roller grill, for example, that maintains cooking time and temperature. Such equipment takes the guesswork out of concession cooking, a critical service for snack bars operated by inexperienced employees.


It's important to refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep bacteria from growing and multiplying. For quick cooling, divide large amounts into small, shallow containers. Refrigerators must be set at 40şF or lower, while freezers must be at least 0şF. To keep the cool air inside, be sure freezer and refrigerator doors are closed when not in use. All frozen food should be thawed in the refrigerator.


To avoid food-borne illness, consider a low-risk menu. Keep high-risk foods such as meats, eggs, dairy products, cut vegetables and protein salads to a minimum. Avoid using precooked foods or leftovers. Use foods only from approved sources.


Only healthy workers should prepare and serve food. Employees who show symptoms of disease—cramps, nausea, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, etc.—should not be allowed in the concession area. Workers with open sores or infected cuts on their hands also should be barred. Employees should wear clean outer garments and not smoke in the food-preparation area. Hair restraints also should be mandatory.


It's important to remember that many concession stand workers are part-time or seasonal employees. They typically are not trained food-service workers who understand the need maintain a clean, healthy business. It's your job to educate them. Go over health department regulations and, above all else, stress the importance of frequent hand washings.

  F O R   M O R E   I N F O R M A T I O N  

Star Manufacturing Int'l, Inc. 800-264-7827

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