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Pass the Kitchen Safety Test With Flying Colors

Serving utensils with purple handles
Vollrath Pro Staff -

Think food allergies only affect a few people and aren’t that serious? Think again. Every three minutes in the U.S., a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room. In fact, researchers estimate that 32 million Americans, including 5.6 million children, have food allergies — an issue that seems to be increasingly prevalent. That makes safeguarding students more important than ever. But keeping your kitchen safe can be as easy as 1, 2, 3.

1. Do Your Homework

It’s important that your entire staff be well-informed about the eight foods that account for 90 percent of food allergies: eggs, wheat, milk, soy, shellfish, fish, tree nuts and peanuts. In schools, the food service staff should consult with food-allergic students and their parents about what to avoid and acceptable substitutions. Reading labels, recipes and ingredient lists is crucial, and it’s wise to keep food labels for at least 24 hours in case of reactions.

Along with being allergen savvy, every kitchen should follow these basic safety guidelines:

  • Use a thermometer to ensure proper temperatures for storing and serving food: 140° for hot foods, 40° for cold foods and 165° for reheated foods
  • Raw meat, poultry, eggs and perishable food should be refrigerated within two hours
  • Thaw food in the refrigerator, cold water or microwave and marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the countertop
  • Keep allergen-free and color-coded equipment in separate areas


2. Color-Code Your Kitchen

Colored utensils and smallwares for specific food products provide an easy way to prevent cross contact between raw meats, dairy, seafood, fruits/veggies, cooked foods and allergens. Our extensive Purple Smallware line offers prepware, serveware and storage for safe handling of allergen-free foods. And the our color-coded products allow you to use specified equipment for specific foods to increase food safety.

If you’re like most commercial kitchens, you do a lot of advanced prep work. To prevent cross contamination and ensure freshness (as well as control portions), consider investing in a vacuum pack machine. We have great options as well as bags and accessories, and our Busch vacuum pump is considered one of the best in the industry.

3. Keep it Clean

Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction, so your staff must be extra vigilant about cleaning and sanitizing work surfaces, utensils, cutting boards, pots and pans and cleaning thoroughly between fixing safe and “problem” foods. It’s a good idea to prepare the safe meals first using separate utensils, plates and cutting boards.

Our closed-compartment racks offer a simple solution for keeping serveware completely free of dust, bacteria and pests (along with preventing breakage) between uses. They’re durable, dishwasher safe, BPA-free, plus you can order colored extenders to incorporate the racks into your kitchen’s color-coded system.

In school settings, students, staff and volunteers should be encouraged to wash their hands before and after handling and consuming foods. Cafeteria tables and chairs should be washed with soap and water, and for some foods like peanuts, it’s best to use a spray cleaner in addition to dishwashing liquid.

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