What Can We Learn From the Best Chefs in the World?
Food Safety Supervisor, Food Safety Training, Food Hygiene
Food poisoning is not only found in the greasy diner down the street. It can, and has, occurred in some of the best restaurants, run by some of the best chefs.
In 2009, Heston Blumenthal’s 3 Michelin star Fat Duck Restaurant in Berkshire UK was forced to close temporarily after a food poisoning scare. The health report on the incident singled out oysters tainted with sewage and poor staff hygiene as the causes.
In 2011, more than a hundred people suffered food poisoning after attending events at the Georgia Aquarium. The events were catered for by American celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s catering firm and the cause of the food poisoning was attributed to Cyclospora in a salad mix.
In the same year, English celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s chain of Italian restaurants was investigated by health authorities after several suspected cases of food poisoning. Spot checks revealed food safety concerns at several restaurants, including exposure of customers to E.coli bacteria and out-of-date meat being served to staff.
What this tells us is that it doesn’t matter how good your reputation is or how many Michelin stars your restaurant may have. If things aren’t being done properly behind the scenes, then food poisoning is always a possibility.
Obviously, no one sets out to poison their customers. In fact, it is the last thing a renowned chef, or any chef for that matter, wants to see happen. In the cases mentioned above, the well-known chefs were probably not even involved in the day-to-day operations of their restaurants.
But when food poisoning strikes, it is their name that’s on the door, which is why it’s so important to make sure the food safety message gets through to those further down the chain of command as well.
The key factors to remember in food safety, whether it’s in a commercial kitchen or your own kitchen at home, are:
• Correct temperatures – making sure food is kept out of the Danger Zone (5ºC - 60ºC) and is thawed correctly and cooked sufficiently
• Correct times and dates – discarding food that has been sitting out too long or is past its use by date
• Good hygiene – washing hands frequently and cleaning food preparation areas and equipment thoroughly
• Proper storage and handling - avoiding cross-contamination of foods such as raw meat, by storing correctly and handling separately.
While you are probably far more likely to get food poisoning from a fast food outlet or greasy spoon café, the fact remains that bacteria don’t discriminate and they don’t watch television, so food safety needs to be a primary focus for everyone, no matter who they are.
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