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Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Culinary no-no #172

Culinary no-no's


My friend, Jim and I had finished spinning music for a wedding at a well-known downtown Milwaukee hotel several years ago. Our gear packed and ready to go, we needed to use a service elevator that was accessed through the kitchen.

The disarray was surprising. If only people could see this uncleanliness, we thought, they’d be shocked.

Did you dine out this weekend? Did you give any second thoughts about what was going on behind closed kitchen doors? Did you just assume that all food service rules, regulations and guidelines were being followed to the letter?

What if?

What if we could actually observe the inside of restaurant and cafeteria kitchens?

Would we like what we find?

Probably not.

For the first time, a new study by North Carolina State University utilized video cameras in commercial kitchens to gauge how carefully food was being handled. Small cameras, as many as eight, were placed inconspicuously inside eight food-service kitchens. Researchers observed food handlers for a total of 348 hours.

The study’s conclusion in a nutshell, according to a university press release: “risky practices can happen more often than previously thought.”  

Let’s go to the videotape. Again, quoting the release, the study found “approximately one cross-contamination event per food handler per hour. In other words, the average kitchen worker committed eight cross-contamination errors, which have the potential to lead to illnesses, in the course of the typical eight-hour shift.”

Cross –contamination occurs when, for example a knife used to cut raw chicken is used again on another food item.  Major no-no.





Famous celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse has often warned on his TV program that if you have raw chicken in the house, you need to wash everything, including your car.

Think about the study numbers: one cross-contamination per food handler per hour. Suppose your favorite restaurant has five kitchen workers. That’s 40 miscues in a typical work shift. No matter how great the linguini was, somebody’s going home sick.

Previous studies resulted in fewer incidents of cross-contamination. However, that’s understandable.  But those studies relied on inspections and, get this, self-reporting by food handlers. North Carolina State used a far more accurate approach.

There are two eyebrow-raising elements to this study:

1) Dr. Ben Chapman, assistant professor and food safety specialist in the department of family and consumer sciences at North Carolina State and lead author of the research paper says, “It’s important to note that the food-service providers we surveyed in this study reflected the best practices in the industry for training their staff.”

That’s enough to send any Felix Unger-type into cardiac arrest.

But here’s the real stunner…

2) The kitchens that were observed in this study? They all volunteered to participate.

THEY KNEW THEY WERE BEING WATCHED.
 
AND THEY STILL MESSED UP!

Solutions:

Better training, of course.

More hand sanitizers in the kitchens.

Information sheets given to food handlers every week.

Read more in this NCSU press release.

Putting cameras.

In kitchens.

What an idea.

Because you just never know……
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What you’ll find.







A SMORGASBORD OF CULINARY NO-NO EXTRAS


Identity crisis in the produce aisle.


Can we please just leave the good Amercian hot dog alone?


Blue balls in your mozzarella? Datsa not good.


Want to get smarter? Eat this.


Maybe she likes Miracle Whip instead.

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