Specialty Food Magazine

Spring 2018

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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3. Monitor and record refrigeration temperatures. "We check our walk-in and our reach-ins four times a day," says Maureen Cunnie, operations manager for Tomales Bay Foods, which operates the Cowgirl Creamery shops. At Antonelli's Cheese Shop in Austin, electronic gauges record the cheese case and walk-in temperatures every 15 minutes—costly technology for a small shop but worth it, says owner John Antonelli. 4. Set standards for employee hygiene and enforce them. Long hair pulled back. Scrubbed, unpolished fingernails. Clean clothes and clean aprons. These expectations are standard practice in foodservice, but managers often let lapses pass. Louise Kennedy Converse, owner of Artisan Cheese Company in Sarasota, Florida, requires employees to take their aprons off if they go outside. She also bans cell phones, personal food, and bever- ages behind the counter. No customer wants to see a monger noshing and then return to cutting cheese. 5. Teach hand washing: the how and the when. "If people are new to food work, they don't realize how easily they can contaminate a product," says Cunnie. New Cowgirl employees are taught to scrub their hands for as long as it takes to recite the alphabet. Florida is a "glove state," with no direct contact allowed between food and hands. Still, says Converse, employees are constantly washing up. "You handle money; you wash your hands. You touch your face; you wash your hands. You come behind the counter; you wash your hands," says Converse. "We have no fingerprints left." Downey has similar hand-washing policies and her team members gently police each cheese focus Janet Fletcher writes the email newsletter "Planet Cheese" and is the author of Cheese & Wine and Cheese & Beer. other because it's so easy to get distracted and forget. 6. Review your sampling proce- dures. Sampling is a huge part of selling, but don't bare-hand it. Put the sample on a small square of deli paper, then hand it to the customer. Converse uses attrac- tive wooden paddles that her woodworker husband made. Each customer gets a clean paddle, and Converse's fingers never touch the cheese. "If I'm sampling at the same time, I put my sample on a toothpick," says the monger. Passive sampling is more problematic from a hygiene perspective, although it defi- nitely moves cheese, says Arding. She keeps the sampling station near the cheese counter so she can monitor it for egregious customer behavior. If you do passive sampling, keep a dome on the cheese and clean toothpicks front and center. 7. Seek advice from colleagues and observe what others do. Most retailers are happy to share their practices, even with near competitors. If a customer is sickened, the whole cheese community suf- fers. Do reconnaissance at other cheese and deli counters, taking note of good practices and bad. "Thinking from the vantage point of the customer has helped me be better behind the counter," says Converse. "I'm constantly making a mental note of what others do well and what isn't happening, and I bring that information into my store." 8. Lead by example. A food safety plan is only as good as the people who follow it, says Downey. "You can have all these rules and a really robust plan, but you have to train and remind. And if I'm telling people they have to do it this way, I better be doing it as well." "If it's not recorded, it hasn't happened." 36 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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