According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, (CSPI) they estimated 76 million food related illnesses and 5,000 deaths in the United States. Over the years, food borne illnesses linked to produce has surpassed the number of outbreaks in pork, beef, poultry and eggs. I found this to be most disturbing because what are you now required to offer the students, fresh fruit and vegetable.
It also hit home with me, my one and only time I got food poisoning was after eating a salad purchased at a fast food establishment. Although there was chicken on the salad, as soon as I bit into and swallowed this piece of lettuce, I knew I was in trouble. Sure enough, four hours later, I was living in the bathroom!
Because this is such a personal topic, let us take a moment to review the best practices food handlers must practice to keep food safe.
Wash hands frequently: Before you start working or start a new task, after using the restroom, taking out the garbage, putting up stock, anything that takes you away from the task at hand.
Wash produce thoroughly: Wash fresh produce under warm running water before using; especially, if the product will be combined with other ingredients.
When washing leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, kale, collards and spinach be sure to pull the outer leaves off and completely separate all of the other leaves.
Wash one batch at a time.
Fresh-cut produce: Must be stored at 41 degrees F or lower. If soaking and storing cut produce, it must be kept in cold water or an ice-water mixture (slurry) in the refrigerator and never add or mix in different batches of the same item or different items.
Prepare small amounts: When possible, prepare items requiring ingredients from the refrigerator, to produce smaller amounts at a time. We call this batch cooking.
Maintain proper temperature: Once on the serving line, make sure the cold items are on or in a refrigerated well or table top.
Rotate the items to ensure they maintain temperature of 41 degrees F or lower.