Why You Need Food4Thought In Your Life

Before you read, let us just clarify that this is not an article that pertains solely to businesses, business owners, or upper management. It applies to EVERYONE. From the owners, to the consumers. You. Your family. Your friends. Your children. Anyone who loves food, who loves dining out, who loves ordering food, who loves peace of mind that your children & elders are eating safely at their schools & caregiver facilities… it’s for those who care about the cleanliness & safety of what they’re consuming.


Now, let us briefly explain who we are, what we do, and how we benefit everything & everyone we listed above…
We’re a food safety consulting company who will adequately prepare food establishments & services for the unplanned event that poses a real threat to the safety, health or environment of consumers, customers and employees. If a crisis, such as a food-borne illness or product recall occurs, our trained staff is available to assist with their “Readiness Program” (i.e. based on an existing plan that we customize for that business), to identify what caused the crisis, interfacing with regulatory agencies, public relations and referencing litigation support.

lonely restaurant

We offer the highest quality of services on the market today. The concept of Food4Thought was developed in 2002. Since then, we have provided superior service to our customers by helping them to achieve their goals & provide the cleanest, safest food environments for their customers & consumers. Our experience and commitment to excellence, have earned us the reputation as one of the best consultative services in the state of Georgia. And even better… we come to their location so they don’t have to worry about making a trip or taking time out of their busy schedule to drive to us and meet.


We specialize in helping these establishments with crisis recalls, food safety & staff training, food safety certifications, HACCP planning, staying up to date with health department food codes, food inspections & audits, health code assistance, food education training, FREE risk assessments, food plan reviews, restaurant & fast food establishment protocols & SOPs, and more.

2016-09-26_1810 2016-09-25_2231

Food-related diseases affect tens of millions of people and kill thousands each year. Scary, but true!
Tracking single cases of food-borne illness and investigating outbreaks are critical public health functions in which CDC is deeply involved. And we help with all of this!


What are the Unique Benefits of doing Business with F4T?
•Protecting the customer and consumer, and in turn, protecting your main corporate asset, and the company’s name
•Assuring that all operations meet regulatory requirements
•Being able to address the growing litigious nature of today’s business climate
•Providing customers with consistent, satisfying products
•Developing a disciplined approach to change via continuous improvements of quality
•Cultivating quick, professional response to problems

Recent studies have shown that food establishments who actively invest in a food safety program like Food4Thought, significantly minimize potential risks that may carry unrecoverable liability. Similar studies have shown a direct proportional relationship with improved health scores and increased sales.

The best thing you can do outside of reporting any foul practices would be to pass this information along to anyone you know who could benefit from it, and to anyone who you know that manages or owns a food service or establishment. Pass it along to your friends & family. Share it with your social networks. And share with your favorite eateries, local schools, etc.
Tell them about FOOD4THOUGHT! Share this article.
They can contact us anytime! F4TLLC.com/Contact – and let them know that we are also offering FREE RISK ASSESSMENTS right now. And don’t forget, we will come to THEM! So they can continue on with their busy schedules and not have to worry about scheduling time out of their day to make a trip over to us. Doesn’t matter where they’re located. Even though we are local to the state of Georgia, we do business all across the United States. Anywhere they are, we will come to them.

We care about what we eat and where we eat, and we know you do too.
And for that reason, this is why EVERYONE needs Food4Thought in their life.
It’s literally a matter of life or death in some cases.
And in all cases, it’s a matter of having peace of mind and the highest quality of care when it comes to the food we eat, and the manner in which that food is handled. WE THANK YOU FOR CARING!

Cheers to health & happy food experiences!
Food4Thought Management Team & Anthony Jackson, Food Safety Consultant
(800) 461-4515


And Don’t Forget:


Restaurant Inspection Scores Can Affect Your Bottom Line

Every permitted eating establishment undergoes unscheduled inspections by trained public health departments and a bad inspection grade from one of these health officials could cost your restaurant thousands of dollars in lost sales. Corporate franchise executives understand the importance of food safety very well. They tend to view it under the umbrella of protecting their brands, and they have the layers of management and the money required to make it a priority.  Similarly, smaller operations also understand its importance of protecting a reputation; however, their more limited manpower and financial means often lead them to make poor food safety choices. These entrepreneurs often become interested in food safety only after a negative event occurred— such as a poor health inspection grade or worse, an epidemic event, say a Food-borne Illness Incident (FBI).

The damaging effects of a poor health inspection grade are grossly underestimated.  Their impact and reach goes beyond profit loss. It negatively affects the customer and their decision to patronize, the establishment reputation is damaged and in question, and it may affect employee morale and staff pride.

This article is meant to educate entrepreneurs on (1) how they can prepare for health department inspections through employee training and self-inspections, (2) the health inspection process and what inspectors are looking for, and (3) the health inspection grading system and how to respond to a poor grade.



The key to preparing for your health inspector is to ensure that your staff is educated and then self-inspect — Daily (Self inspection guides can be requested and obtained at f4tllc.com)

While some restaurant employees such as hostess and valet attendants do not handle food, most employees do handle food in some way or another, and they need to have some type of food handlers training (www.f4tllc.com).

Employees who handle food include the following:

  • Bartenders cut fruit, make fresh juice, handle dairy, rotate stock.
  • Food runners deliver food plates, prepare garnishes, clean plates off.
  • Bussers deliver beverages, make hot drinks, clear dirty tables and reset clean tables.
  • Servers do some or all of the above and need to understand allergens in prepared foods.
  • Hosts may also help deliver food, clear dirty tables and reset clean tables.
  • Chefs and cooks handle food from the back door to the plate and keep the kitchen safe.
  • Dishwashers clean and sanitize glassware, dishes, pots and pans.

It is a best practice to have as many employees as possible trained in the basics of food safety via a nationally accredited food safety certification.  The following is a list of basic topics covered in a food handler’s training and are the more common violations seen during a health inspection:

  • How food becomes unsafe
  • Good personal hygiene, including how and when to wash your hands
  • How to control time and temperature when handling food
  • How to measure the temperature of food
  • How to purchase, receive, store, cook, cool, and hold foods
  • How to label foods
  • How to prevent cross-contamination
  • What to do if cross-contamination occurs
  • How to handle people who have food allergies
  • How and when to clean and sanitize
  • How to handle cleaning tools and garbage
  • How to clean dishes properly
  • Knowledge of the most common reportable food-borne diseases

The biggest mistake small operators make when they consider training their staff, is failing to realize that “training” actually occurs before they begin training their employees. The problem is unqualified employees fail to exhibit a functional level of food safety knowledge during the interview process (e.g., do they know when to wear gloves, how long to wash their hands, etc.). Unlearning bad food safety habits can be hard, so it is best to hire those who are already on the right track of demonstrating good retail practices and have a willingness attitude to learn the correct process of your establishment.

Immediate training — Food safety and sanitation operating procedures should be introduced as soon as an employee is hired.

Specifying responsibilities — Start with a clear job description outlining exactly what you want your employees to do when it comes to food safety. They will generally comply with signing a document stating that they fully understand what is expected from them.

Staff turnover — The restaurant business experiences a high rate of turnover for a variety of reasons: most young employees consider a restaurant position just an entry-level job, starting pay for an unskilled employee is low, and some jobs (dishwashing or building maintenance) are not very desirable. As employees move on to better things, you should be prepared to constantly train new staff members.  This constant need for training does not come without some cost, and most companies will train the first or second generation of employees before the commitment wanes and employee turnover takes its toll. Entrepreneurs must keep in mind that if a food-borne illness outbreaks were to occur and be traced to their establishment; the financial fallout and bad press could be staggering compared to the effort involved in proper staff training and development.


Self-inspections are an excellent method of self evaluation. It allows an introspective look at your operation and it evaluates what practices are working and what areas need improvement.  Some of the common mistakes made by small operations are twofold:  1) not performing them often enough — an issue that stems from lack of manpower/resources, and (2) not fixing problems found during these inspections — a decision that is most often financially driven.  Typically, self-inspections should be performed twice a day, before the morning and evening shifts. The first inspection allows you to see if anything happened from the time the restaurant closed down until the first manager/chef arrived in the morning, and most problems (i.e. refrigeration running too hot, freezers not working, broken ice machine, etc.) can be fixed before the morning shift begins.  Keep these reports on-site, use them as a teachable examples during training and use them as leverage, if necessary to demonstrate to your health inspector, your active approaches to identifying ongoing issues and your effective plan of abatement.

Cleaning and maintenance schedules

To be in a position to pass your self-inspections (and the health inspector’s inspection), every restaurant should follow Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and Quarterly cleaning schedules. The cleanings should be thorough and cover all areas, including both the front and back of the house and areas outside of the establishment. The list below provides an idea of how often you should be cleaning different areas/items.

Cleaning Frequency
Daily — Sweep and mop all floors; clean all counters, under-counter shelving and refrigeration shelving, small equipment, floor drains, and dishwasher surfaces.
Weekly — Clean all internal fan guards, refrigeration door gaskets, oven gaskets, underneath fryer wells, the grill vents above grills, inside ice machines, all garbage cans, and the walls around equipment; defrost the small ice cream freezer.
Monthly — Deep-clean floor drains, ceiling vents, rolling carts, floor mats, and employee lockers.
Quarterly — Clean outside ventilation filters, internal and external dumpsters, staircases, and storage units.

Maintain all service contracts and ensure that preventative maintenance work is performed according to schedule. They should list maintenance/renewal schedules for various items.   Creating a “Food Safety Binder” is preferred, information retained should include, but not be limited to health department inspection reports, self-inspection reports, maintenance and temperature logs from the past three months, fire extinguisher repair reports, exterminator’s reports, etc.   Ensure all managers and shift leaders know what is in the binder, where it is located, so should a health inspector want to see proof of maintenance, you can provide some history.

Health Department Inspections

Most operators view a visit from the health inspector as an inconvenience.  In fact, many operators hate the health department. This is the wrong attitude to take, but it does explain why restaurants seem to dread health inspections. Inspections are unannounced, but if you are prepared with an educated staff and a history of routine self-inspections, you won’t have any reason to fear the inspector’s visit.

When the health inspector arrives, greet the inspector warmly and ask for identification, this may be an opportunity for someone, without being obvious to make known to the back of the house (BOH) that the inspector is on-site. The person in charge (PIC), should accompany the inspector and take note of any observations.  Each health inspector is different and there is no norm when it comes to an inspector’s style.  However, there are a few observations most inspectors like to focus on:

  • No tiles cracked or missing, lights protected with plastic shields or plastic tubes, air-curtains working at delivery doors, doorways use air pumps for closure. Floors, floor drains, walls, and ceilings clean and in good repair.
  • Containers covered and labeled. Gaskets, fan guards, shelving, and all types of door handles clean.
  • Thermometers present in all refrigeration units containing proteins. Taking random temperatures of hot and cold foods at all stations to make sure temperatures are maintained at the proper levels for cold holding and hot holding.
  • Dining room furnishings in good condition, restrooms properly stocked and in working condition, garbage and trash areas have proper receptacles that are covered and rodent proof, basements are rodent proof and with proper lighting.
  • Storeroom door closed, everything stored six inches off the floor and away from walls, cans inverted, boxes sealed closed, no flies or insects in dry ingredients.
  • Single-service items wrapped in original sleeve, to-go boxes inverted, cases sealed closed.
  • Can opener and blade clean, containers inverted, utensils stored handles up, clean equipment.
  • Hair covered, uniforms clean, aprons on, condition of hands (looking for cuts, open wounds, rashes), gloves on, gloves available in a variety of sizes.
  • Hand sinks clean, hot water 100ºF +, soap and paper towels available, trash can available with no obstacles in its way.
  • Stoves, grills, fryers, vents, hoods, and filters present and clean; kettles working.
  • No cell phones in work or food areas, and no beverages, food, or tobacco in back of house.

The most common violations
The following violations seem to be the most common. You can develop your own self-inspection form from these very common violations.

(A) Top good retail practices violations
Good retail practices violations are low-risk violations that do not require immediate action.
(B) Top Minor Violations
A minor violation does not pose an imminent health hazard, but it does warrant an immediate correction.
(C) Top Major Violations
A major violation poses an imminent health hazard that warrants immediate correction and may require closure of the food facility.
Nonfood-contact surfaces clean and in good repair — This violation refers to items that do not come into direct contact with food and include gaskets, fans, garbage cans, mop buckets, floor mats, shelving, etc.  Food in good condition, safe and unadulterated — This violation occurs when food is left out or stored in unsafe areas (e.g., near cleaning supplies or in a restroom), and when ice crystals are forming on food due to improper defrosting and refreezing procedures. Proper hot and cold holding temperatures — This violation can occur in reach-in refrigeration lowboys, top-cold holding units, walk-in refrigerators, and on stovetops. Have thermometers present. The only way you can control the rapid growth of bacteria is to make sure food is held outside of the temperature danger zone, which is between 41ºF and 135ºF or 140ºF (the required level depends on your local health department guidelines).


Equipment/utensils approved, installed, clean, in good repair, and in the proper capacity — This violation refers to household utensils and equipment that are being used in the restaurant. Examples of this violation include aging equipment and cooking utensils, and appliances that are dirty and perhaps not large enough in capacity to handle the demands of the business. Adequate hand-washing facilities supplied and accessible — This could also be a major violation depending on how many violations occur. Examples: Lack of hot water, soap, and/or paper towels; a transit cabinet placed in front of the sink, inhibiting access to the sink; missing hand sinks; and not enough sinks in a work space Hands clean and properly washed, gloves used properly — This violation occurs mainly when hands are not washed long enough, soap is not used, or gloves are not worn when handling ready-to-eat foods (e.g., when dicing cooked chicken for buffets, etc.).


Equipment, utensils, and linens: storage and use — This violation refers to equipment, utensils, and linens that are improperly used or stored such that they may become contaminated and need to be replaced. Toxic substances properly used, identified, and stored — Examples: When caps fall off chemical containers, when cleaning supplies are transferred out of their original containers into spray bottles and are not relabeled, and when chemicals are stored near food products such as vegetable oil spray.


 Food contact surfaces clean and sanitized — This violation can occur when surfaces that come into contact with food are not washed, rinsed, and sanitized, when sanitation buckets are missing from active food preparation stations, when the supply of sanitizing solution is too low, and when mold and yeast are found on the inside rim/ice chute of an ice machine (ice is a food). Note that all surfaces of an ice machine must be clean, including the scoop and its holding container.
Floors, walls, and ceiling: properly built, maintained in good repair, and clean — This violation is concerned with the condition and the maintenance of these surfaces and whether or not proper finishes (e.g., durable, skid resistant, nonabsorbent) are used. Violations include holes in wall tiles, wooden walls in the kitchen or at the bar sink, and rugs used on the kitchen floor. No rodents, insects, birds, or animals — It is a minor violation when you see filth flies or one live roach, but this violation can close a restaurant down if there is an infestation. Keeping your floors, drains, and corners clean helps to prevent pests, and keeping your doors shut prevents them from flying in Communicable diseases: reporting, restrictions and exclusions — This violation can occur when employees show up for work sick (and note that sick employees are often the reason behind the spread of foodborne illness). Create good relationships with your staff so they will self-disclose medical conditions.


Plumbing, fixtures, back-flow devices, drainage — This violation covers all issues regarding water flow from sinks, drains, toilets, and refrigeration. Violations include missing back-flow devices on utility sinks, sinks not being attached to the wall, refrigeration lines draining onto the floor, and no floor drain being present. Proper eating, drinking, tobacco, and cell phone use — Employees can eat, drink, and smoke only in designated areas, and they cannot perform these actions as they prepare or serve food. Cell phones are hard to sanitize and not welcome in most kitchens, as they are generally sitting on top of cutting boards or counter surfaces (and contaminating those areas).


Proper reheating procedures for hot holding — After food has been cooked and then cooled down and chilled, during the reheating process food must reach 165ºF for 15 seconds in order to kill any bacteria that have been growing. An inspector can test for this violation by asking an employee to what temperature they reheated the food and for how long.

In most cases, correcting issues on site will help raise your score, and the reason for not receiving a top score could be a few easily correctable issues.


How to Respond to a Low Score/Grade

When the inspection is complete, the inspector may choose a quiet area to write the inspection report and review it in depth with the person in charge, and then both parties sign the report. The report is left on site or emailed to the person in charge, and in most cases it will also be posted to the Health Department’s website and become part of the public record.  During the exit summary, this is the best time to gather a better understanding of the inspector’s findings.  If there is a violation that you do not agree with or understand, the best approach is to ask the inspector what the health implications are regarding that violation.  Whatever the outcome, the first thing you should do with the inspection results is to take them seriously. You want to convey to the inspector your sincere concern to have those issues addressed and abated in an appropriate time frame.  Retrain everyone in the areas identified in the report and make sure that you fix and repair for the long haul. This correction process starts with a prioritized list, and because repair and maintenance issues take time and cost money, it is best to start with the big things like cracked or missing floor tiles and grout, dirty fan guards, torn gaskets, and repairing broken equipment.  Provide realistic time lines and sincere expectations.  If you are still unsatisfied with the results of your health inspection, you can always contest or appeal to a higher authority for resolution.  In some jurisdictions, a fine and/or re-inspection may be warranted and it might be worth the trouble of pursuing that route.  If your establishment is involved with a Foodborne Illness (FBI) incident, then getting a lawyer might be a good idea.

In closing, health inspection scores do matter and it will affect facets of your bottom line.  The results can be financially crippling to a small operation, with regards to fines, damaged reputation, pending closure, fleeing personnel and in this age of social media, bad news travels fast!.  Stay on top of your food safety management program.  Hire 3rd party consultants to give your establishment fresh ideas, observations from unbiased viewpoints and diagnostic checkups to see whether your system is working!

Note: The information of this article is inspired by years of working with clients who have experienced the joys and pain of health inspections. Information provided is in accordance to the recommendations of the FDA and the specifics of this article may not be accurate for every city and town.

America’s Shocking Top 10 Cleanest & Filthiest Fast Food Chains

Unfortunately we are a nation fueled by fast food &quick-fix convenience (i.e. greasy burgers and fries, tacos, fried chicken, etc.).  Millions on top of millions of these meals are sold every single day in this country, and a lot of us just assume it’s all clean and safe to consume for the most part. The recent incidents of Chipotle remind us otherwise, though, that this is just what it is… “Fast Food”:  it’s made fast, served fast, and you eat it fast – maybe too fast to even consider if what we are consuming is at all healthy and to say the least, whether or not the restaurant who has prepped this meal is a clean or dirty one.

Fast Food
The information provided was taken several years ago from a Dateline coverage.  At the time, it was the first of its kind to go undercover and report on the cleanliness of our nations top Fast Food chain operations. They performed a national survey looking at the cleanliness of 1,000 fast food restaurants, spanning over 38 states.  What they found may do more than surprise you, it may give you some Food4Thought… before entering your next restaurant.

In a Chicago Wendy’s, inspectors found a dead rodent decomposing on a rat trap. At a California Taco Bell, someone bit into a taco, only to find chewing gum. Food inspectors in Texas found a worm in a Wendy’s salad. At a Hardee’s in Florida, a customer was handed a cup of soda with blood dripping from it and there was blood on her change as well.  The list goes on… A cockroach in someone’s soda, a sharp metal object in a man’s sandwich. But as disgusting as those things are, they are rare. We here at f4tllc.com want you to be aware of the fact that the things you can’t see, can be even more hazardous to your health than what you can see.

employee licks taco shells employee eating ice cream from machine

Critical violations are a benchmark for judging a restaurant’s cleanliness. Most food regulations mandate they be corrected immediately, they include things like handling ready-to-eat food with bare hands or unwashed hands, under-cooked meat, improper food holding temperatures, sick employees preparing food, and a host of other potentially hazardous problems.  What is shocking in this report, is that more than 60% of all fast food restaurants in the survey had at least one or more critical violations.  It is important to note, critical violations suggest a higher risk and probability for a food-borne illness.

The order of the survey is as follows, from worst to less worse offenders.
Keep in mind that this is definitely a list where no fast food restaurant wants to come in at #1.

    • 241 total critical violations. (employees not washing their hands, uncovered food in the fridge, grime and debris found on the ice chute, and on the drink machine at the drive-thru window)
  2. ARBY’S
    • 210 critical violations. (improper hand-washing and employees handling ready-to-eat foods with their bare hands) Note: 30% of all food-borne illnesses are caused by improper hand washing

  3. WENDY’S
    • 206 critical violations. (repeated problems with food holding temperatures, mice droppings on the shelves, bare hand food contact, and one food-borne illness complaint)
    • 206 critical violations. (inspectors cited the presence of insects and rodents)
    • 184 total critical violations. (critical violations for grime, debris, and inaccurate thermometers)
    • 164 critical violations. (had several customer complaints of food-borne illness – in 1993, this operation had one of the nations largest E. coli outbreaks)
    • 160 critical violations. (recurring problems with improper food holding temperatures)
  8. KFC
    • 157 critical violations. (salmonella poisoning is the biggest culprit at this establishment)
    • 136 critical violations. (some restaurants didn’t have a certified food safety manager on-site)   – NOTE: Food4Thought uses nationally accredited food safety programs to certify ALL food handlers.
    • 91 critical violations. (recurring violations included dirty food preparation counters and rodent droppings)

So what’s the big picture in an industry that serves millions of meals everyday?
Accidents are forgivable; negligence is unacceptable. Operations & establishments are only as good as the last meal they serve. Food Safety Management Programs must be updated frequently with continuing education programs and supported by all personnel. Operations which utilize Third Party Audit Services, bring balance and added support to their operating system.

Thank you for you attention and support of F4T, LLC.
For more information, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Are Plastic Containers Safe for Food Prep or Food Storage?

Are all plastics safe for food storage or food prep?  In short answer, NO…  Plastics pervade every part of our normal way of living.  According to WorldWatch.org, some 299 million tons of plastics were produced in 2013, representing a 4 percent increase over 2012. Worldwide plastic production has been growing as the durable, primarily petroleum-based material gradually replaces materials like glass and metal.   Between 22 percent and 43 percent of the plastic used worldwide is disposed of in landfills, where recovery and recycling remain insufficient, this is a major environmental concern.

So the question remains, how much are we at risk for exposure to the chemicals found in plastics, and are all plastics the same?  Another tough question, but in short, long term exposure is argumentative, and NO again… all plastics are not the same. There are several types of plastics, some being safer than others. Plastic products are commonly marked with a number enclosed by the recycling symbol, which is typically found on the bottom of the product. This symbol is used to identify the plastic and recycle-ability of the proplastic scaleduct. Safe choices would be to use product containers marked with #2, #4 and #5.  Containers using #1 and #7 should be used with caution and by all means steer clear of using containers marked with #3 and #6.

I’ll review in short each type of plastic and their health concerns, but to find more information, please see the article posted by babygreenthumb.com.

1is PET or PETE – Polyethylene Terephthalate, a plastic resin in the family of polyester. It’s commonly found in cosmetics, water, juice soft drinks, salad dressings, oil and peanut butter.  Studies have found this chemical to leach from water bottles that have been temperature abused. Plastics from #1 are intended for one time use.

2is HDPE – High Density Polyethylene made from petroleum.  It is commonly found in the manufacturing of toys and the packaging of laundry detergent, milk jugs and folding chairs and tables.  This plastic can withstand high temperatures and currently poses no health risk.

3is PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride, a thermoplastic polymer commonly found in cling wrap, pool toys, shower curtains and waterbeds? The health concern is many of the chemicals made with PVC can be released in the air and cause respiratory distress.

4is  LDPE – Low Density Polyethylene, a thermoplastic made from petroleum. It is recognized by its opaque or translucent appearance and is commonly found as the outer and inner liner of juice and milk containers. Most plastic grocery bags are made with LDPE.

5is PP – Polypropylene, is a thermoplastic polymer and from its tough composition has a high resistance to heat and acts as a barrier to moisture.  Typically you can find PP in margarine and yogurt tubs, plastic cups, baby bottles, kitchen ware, microwavable containers and lids.  ** Important to note: “Microwavable/Dishwasher” safe only means the plastic will not warp when heated.  Glass containers are a better alternative, but there are no known health concerns with PP.

6is PS – Polystyrene, is a petroleum based plastic.  It is widely used in packaging materials and insulation and is commonly found in disposable knives and forks, CD/DVD cases, egg cartons, foam cups and to-go containers. Long term exposure has been linked to neurotoxicity affecting sleep, causing fatigue and nervousness. Styrene is classified by the EPA as a carcinogen that will affect the lymphatic system.  To avoid using PS use stainless steel cutlery, plates or paper plates and store food in a glass container.

7is an “Other” category that will have variants but may contain BPA – Bisphenol A. Polycarbonates are derived from BPA and can be found in products such as electrical wiring, baby bottles and 3-5 gallon reusable bottles.  BPA has been found to be an endocrine disruptor, having effects on brain behavior, affecting the prostate gland in fetuses, infants and small children.

plastic containers

Ways to avoid the uncertainty of plastic containers is to choose the safest choice of sticking to plastics marked with #2, #4 and #5.  If there are no markings, use unlined glass, stainless steel, or ceramic containers, instead.  Regardless to the type of plastic used, avoid exposing plastics to high temperatures and use mild detergents when cleaning.

Thank you for viewing and please visit us at www.f4tllc.com.

Live Healthier.. Live Happier.. Live Safer.

Food4Thought, LLC.

Controlling Food Cost and Where Your Extra Cash Goes

In an article written in 2009 by Jim Sullivan, he raises the question of how restaurants are controlling their cost.  Incidents of broken dishes, lost silverware or negligent handling of food, i.e. food spoilage or burnt food that must be thrown away might be recoverable items – but at what cost?  The article seems to point out that these mistakes are driven by staff attitude or an unassuming notion that “restaurants are gold mines and the owners must be swimming in mounds of cash”.  Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth.  In fact, every fork, spoon, knife, napkin, disposable goods and food is accounted for in the operational cost of that restaurant and the profit margins on every dollar depend on controlling those cost.

garbage can

On average most restaurants, from full service to fast-casual dining make 5% to 15% profit on the dollar.  Some restaurants make much more than this, while others make much less.  Your average staff member would not be aware of these truths, but they should be made aware there negligible contributions.  One of the hard truths is that only a nickel of every dollar is all that an average restaurant makes in profit after they make payroll, food/liquor cost, operational cost and rent.  And when things like leaving the cooler door open allowing food to spoil or burning food, accidentally throwing away silverware or breaking dishes… that nickel profit has been reduced to pennies or less and now your spending money.

Training and properly educating staff will help to initiate some hardcore cost cutting measures.  However, you must first help your staff to understand the counter current relationship between cost-control and menu merchandising.  Remember, it was said a nickel is made in profit from every dollar.  So, if for example a burger plate cost $5 and after you subtract the cost of sourcing, storing, prepping, garnishing and serving with a napkin, ketchup, etc… you now don’t make $5, you only are making 25 cents.. Ouch!

To further demonstrate this significant relationship between cost and merchandising, say you have a server who drops and breaks a glass that cost the restaurant $1 to buy. Or a staff member eats $1 worth of fries that they did not pay for?  Or the staff over-portions $1 worth of napkins or to-go containers?  You now have to sell FOUR burger plates at $5 to make enough profit for either the broken glass, stolen fries or extra napkins and to-go containers.  This number exponentially goes up with higher pieces of merchandise, say a $10 plate being broken.  Eventually a restaurants gross margins will shrink and profits will be lost.

Here are some cost awareness basics pointed out from the article:

  • You don’t take “top line sales” to the bank. The top line is not the goal line. Gross margins are the most important number in your Profit and Loss statements.
  • Make the invisible visible.  Post and highlight for your staff to see your restaurant’s monthly expenses, like utility bills, advertising, services.
  • Use cleanliness and safety as a barometer. Ensure the basic disciplines of cleanliness and safety are in place in your operation.  For training assistance, please consider f4tllc.

Finally, for there to be well-controlled operating cost, set appropriate expectations.  If you elevate the importance of cost-control to the level of food safety in your restaurant you will have a much more effective efforts, and don’t be afraid to fire those whose actions fail to support your efforts.  Thank you for reading.

Live Healthier… Live Safer.

Things to consider before opening a restaurant

Depending on who you speak with, some have said that as much as 90% of newly established restaurants fail within the first year. That can be an intimidating and a discouraging factor to consider when opening a restaurant for the fist time.  However, according to the National Restaurant Association accurate real numbers predict a closer value of a 30% failure rate for the first year and another 30% within the next two years.

So what should you consider before opening your restaurant and unfortunately becoming another failed statistic?

First, know that restaurants fail because of a number factors.  It will not be because of any one thing but a combination of things.  For example, there will be a number of factors that will not be under the control of the restaurant owner, like the economy, natural disasters, etc. Those will be uncontrollable factors that you will need to consider when securing the appropriate insurance coverage.

Controllable factors; on the other hand, are very much in control of the owner provided if they have done comprehensive research, are disciplined in their practices and flexible in their reasoning.

Let’s consider the single biggest factor of a restaurants failure…  Insufficient Capital.  Inexperienced restaurant owners under estimate the unexpected.  As mentioned there are uncontrollable factors that can place a financial lean on an operation.  Food spoilage, pest infestation, equipment failure, vandalism, etc.  Ensure there is enough capital to address these situations without disrupting the flow of your operation.  Therefore, chose wisely when considering an insurance plan.

Another factor to consider is Location.  Look at the demographics of the area your interested in. Ask yourself what are the housing values, the income level of wealth, can the neighborhood afford your prices, does a crime level exist that may threaten your business? Is there enough variety in the area to support your new restaurant without competitive crowding?  Many of these questions can be answered through census reports, real estate reporting and municipal planning departments.

While many of us are good at something, operating a restaurant often requires you to be good at many things, sometimes simultaneously. Do not make the mistake that you can operate a restaurant because someone said you could cook or because popular opinion agrees with your business sense.  You need a balance of both skills so that you can surround yourself with experienced managers and cooks that can help you get the job done right.

Make no mistake about it, owning and operating a restaurant is hard work. The hours are long, the work can be meticulous  and sometimes it’s hard to see a profit. But you must be committed and devoted to your business. Many new owners lack Commitment and one should be careful with that image because it communicates a message to you staff and eventually it will reach your customers.

And finally, Control your Cost... unless you have unlimited capital, consider looking at turn-key operations.  These will be pre-owned operations that may come with equipment, tables, chairs, etc. Try to negotiate a lease option while you occupy the space. Think conservatively in the beginning and wait until you have at least hit that third year hurdle, before you start considering expanding.

There are so many more things to consider like payroll, food cost and employee juggling, to say the lease… But more importantly, should you decide to be one of the 30,000 who open a new restaurant, know there is help available to assist you.  Good Luck , God Bless and thank you for reading.  If this has inspired or entertained you, please share.

How Third Party Service Providers Keep your Restaurant in the Balance

Third-party audits provide an invaluable component to the safety of the U.S. food supply system. Multiple independent companies like Food4Thought (F4T LLC Services) and audit programs provide literally thousands of independent checks and balances to the food supply system with no direct cost to taxpayers.  

They are best described as professional service; a consultation activity that the facility can take advantage of the recommendations in full, in part, or not at all. The deficiencies observed in the audit report can be resolved to the satisfaction of the facility or the buyer of product from the facility through pre-arranged agreements or program enhancements. Examples would include announced or unannounced visits; reports to all interested parties; and follow up to resolve deficiencies through a variety of reporting methods.

These audits are voluntary tools of the food manufacturer and are not meant to replace regulatory inspections. Usually, audits do not include microbiological sampling; however, a representative review of microbiological test records is part of the program evaluation. As a voluntary activity with no legal status, the audits depend on openness and disclosure to accomplish their full function. They are not meant to uncover deceit or fraud.

The food industry utilizes audits in a number of ways to supplement food safety programs as a manufacturer of food, the distribution of input or output, or a purchase of an ingredient, packaging suppliers or finished products.

The standards and the experience of the entire organization is part of the transmission of best practices to each and every facility involved. Third party audits can provide a new set of eyes to view the operation, without the natural familiarity that occurs over time with regular staff in the day-to-day routine.  Additionally, third party audits also provide an opportunity to recalibrate a facility’s own self-inspection, part of a standard food safety program requirement. The over-all message is amplified in the saying ” an ounce of prevention is worth avoiding a pound of pain”… i.e. to your business, to your establishment and most certainly to your customer.

Live happier… live healthier… and live safer.
Food4Thought, LLC ~ http://www.f4tllc.com
Anthony H. Jackson III