A Shift In Mindset

Chef education and stringent supplier checks are just two ways that restaurants can improve food safety and significantly reduce the risk of an illness outbreak, according to a group of food safety professionals in the USA.

Microbiologist and university professor Brian Nummer argued that integrating food safety into a recipe should begin on day one of a chef’s training, and too often chefs get caught up in the latest trends without thinking about their impact on good practice. He cited sous vide, charcuterie and fresh produce as examples. Sous vide can provide optimum conditions for bacterial growth if not carried out correctly, with an extended period spent in the ‘danger zone’. Recommendations are simple, such as proper storage and regularly testing equipment, but Nummer said that in his experience chefs are reluctant to change their processes for the sake of extra safety, not wanting to alter how they create their “art”.

However, if chefs have food safety processes ingrained in them right from the start of their careers, they will naturally adapt their recipes to put food safety at the fore.

“All of a sudden, they are going to say things like, ‘I already put lemon juice in, so I’ll just keep putting lemon juice in until I get a pH 4, the bacteria-killing level of acid,” Nummer said. “Now we’ve made a culinary guy into a scientist.”