Locally sourced meats and seafood, and locally grown produce are the top 2 hot menu trends for 2012, according to the National Restaurant Association. It’s a great trend which helps to decrease the number of miles food travels from where it is grown to the point of consumption. I fully support buying local food, but it’s also important to remember some basic safety tips when purchasing and preparing the food.
One of the other interns and I put together a bulletin board describing some of current practices for the hall of the Ag Sciences building where our Division is housed. We split the board into two sections: “On the Farm”, and “Before It Hits the Plate”.
Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) and Good Handling Practice (GHP) audits, set up by the USDA, are voluntary third-party certifications that purchasers (i.e. restaurants) often want in order to know that the producer is growing food safely. Although the products are not guaranteed to be free from microbial contamination, the producer has taken proactive measures to prevent such contamination.
More information on the specifics of these audits can be found here.
After a restaurant purchases food, there are some basic food safety principles that should be adhered to.
- Begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
- Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce that looks rotten should be discarded.
- All produce should be thoroughly washed before eating. Wash fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking.
- Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40° F or below.
- Refrigerate all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.