Keeping Clean In Cafeteria

Alexandria Smith, Copy Manager

Metz Culinary Management staff is continuing to promote food safety, a topic brought into the public spotlight after recent media coverage of tainted food.

In spite of wide reform of food safety laws,  the number of Americans falling ill or dying from contaminated food has increased 44 percent since last year, according to a CNN report.

Resident Dining Manager Heidi Franssen said it’s crucial for Metz to uphold food safety  standards while it caters to over a thousand students.

“In our eyes, it [food safety] is common sense, but it’s things you need to know,” she said.

Franssen and management staff provide staffers with refresher lessons and tests on ServSafe regulations. The class reviews food handling at proper temperatures, proper food storage methods, and temperature, bacteria, cross-contamination and personal hygiene information.

ServSafe “blends the latest FDA Food Code, food safety research and years of food sanitation training experience,” while requiring that managers and supervisors be certified in this training, according to the ServSafe website. All Metz managers and supervisors are certified and have extensive knowledge of food safety.

“We cover food safety right from the beginning: how food is delivered, where it comes in from the back, where it goes, where it’s stored, how it’s stored. You know, in others words, raw meat on the bottom shelf versus fruits on the top shelf. And we have separate cooler areas for meats, a cooler for dairy, so it’s right here in particular. Not everybody has that of course, but there’s protocol on how things are stored,” said Franssen.

This protocol is something that freshman pre-medicine/chemistry major Greg Yelnosky understands. He said he came to feel strongly about the importance of proper food storage after working at a confectionery bakery on another university campus.

“At certain temperatures, certain meats go bad very quickly and easily contaminate all of the other foods around it. Certain things like this are very strict – like raw eggs. Vegetables are very strict, fruits are probably the most strict when it comes to produce because when they go bad, they can attract all kinds of pests,” said Yelnosky.

Other students across campus acknowledge and promote the importance of food safety, especially with the potential of students coming down with and transmitting foodborne illnesses including sophomore Speech Language Pathology major Megan Hardy.

“I think it’s really important that we have sanitation because there are a large amount of people and if one person gets sick, we’re in such close quarters that it can easily spread, it can easily get into the dorms, get onto things and then other people use those appliances, or handles, and spread,” said Hardy.

First year government, law, and national security major Dustyn Bebee said safety measures are particularly important on college campuses.

“When we’re dealing with a large amount of people, I feel like safety with our food is very important because if one person gets sick from the food that means the rest of the campus is getting sick off of the food,” said Bebee.

Food safety is more than just storing food, said Franssen. It includes protocol on all aspects of personal hygiene and the role that hygiene plays in potential food contamination and foodborne illnesses.

“We have policies in place about hygiene. So, with the employees, they took a test that had to do with personal hygiene  and coming in with clean clothes you know, which may sound like common sense, but it’s important because a lot of food contamination can come from lack of personal hygiene. So we wear gloves, we wash our hands, we wear gloves, we wear hats or hairnets, stuff like that to keep it clean. And we have had very few issues. In the year that I’ve been here we haven’t had any issues,” said Franssen.

Safety also has a great deal to do with where dining services purchases  produce, said Franssen.

“We buy food from food vendors where everything is already approved – meat is approved, dairy is approved and seafood is certified from there. Again as opposed to “Joe’s Hot Dog Stand”, he can buy it from anywhere, from, say, “Alex’s Deli” who makes it out in the smoker, but we don’t buy locally. It may be perfectly fine, but our suppliers guarantee that it’s gone through the USDA. We don’t buy anything from a local produce stand or things like that because you don’t know where it’s been, you don’t know what chemicals are on it,” said Franssen.

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