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Mise En Place: Streamlining and Efficiency for Commercial Foodservice

Mise En Place - Streamlining and Efficiency for Commercial Foodservice

Life in a commercial kitchen can be fast, hectic, and stressful.

Having a well-stocked and organized kitchen can go a long way to ensure the kitchen's smooth operation, which will ultimately lead to happier guests and greater profitability. One way that commercial foodservice operations can optimize for efficiency is by preparing stations with mise en place best practices.

What is Mise En Place?

Most lovers of food will agree that cooking is an art, and it requires the same amount of intentionality that a painter would bring to a creation. Mise en place is a French term that translates to "to set up" or "to put things into place." In practice, mise en place is the preparation of food and organization of equipment before a chef begins to cook. Mise en place serves a crucial role in the cooking process, similar to an artist who sets up his palette with different hues of paint before beginning to work on a canvas.

It is unclear how long mise en place has been around in the culinary world, but it likely dates back to the late 1800s. Regardless of when it originated, it is a strategy that chefs take incredibly seriously. Some go so far as to call it a religion, while others have it tattooed on their bodies.

An effective mise en place strategy allows culinary professionals to coordinate labor and materials while promoting focus and self-discipline. To get the maximum benefit out of mise en place, a chef should be able to navigate his or her workstation blindfolded.

Preparing Mise En Place

Every chef in a commercial kitchen will have their own strategy for executing mise en place. At its core, however, this plan will center on ensuring that kitchen tools and ingredients are prepared and organized in the most efficient way to prepare food.

The first step in creating a mise en place plan is to prepare a list. The list should include all the steps, ingredients, and tools necessary to execute the kitchen's tasks. It should detail prep tasks necessary for execution of the dishes.

Next comes organization and preparation. While the exact preparation will depend on the menu, it could include:

  • Gathering and organizing all cooking implements, such as mixing pools, knives, and pans;
  • Washing, peeling, and chopping vegetables;
  • Trimming and portioning meat;
  • Deboning and filleting fish;
  • Measuring spices;
  • Portioning liquids such as broth

Finally, mise en place should include a focus on cleanliness. An organized station will allow chefs to clean as they go.  This ensures that all tools and implements are clean and accessible when they are needed.

Benefits of Mise En Place

The most critical benefit of mise en place is its ability to bring efficiencies to commercial kitchens. Some of the ways mise en place maximizes efficiency include:

  • Planning work in advance: Preparing ingredients and work spaces allow chefs to spot any items that are missing or low in inventory and can plan necessary modifications ahead of time;
  • Streamline the work process: Having all items for a dish prepared and in one location reduces the amount of time a chef must spend moving about the kitchen;
  • Promoting ownership: In a kitchen with multiple stations, each chef can feel in control of and take ownership over the preparation of their station; and
  • Keeping things clean: The theory of "clean as you go" is important in many professional kitchens. Having an organized station allows chefs to more effectively plan for cleaning throughout the cooking process.

Institute Mise En Place in Your Operation

If you are looking to institute or improve the mise en place method in your foodservice operation, Lakeside has the equipment that will allow you to create the most effective and efficient workspaces. Our products including action stationsutility carts, and stationary and mobile kitchen support equipment – all which can be configured to optimize the flow of a commercial kitchen. Contact us today to find out how we can help or check out more on our mise en place cart below.

 

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The Importance of Flexibility in Foodservice

Flexibility is a great way to create happy customers, and it's an even better way to increase profits.

All across the landscape of food and beverage, we're seeing certain types of operations go beyond their traditional services as they look for greater potential. C-stores are becoming more like coffee shops. Coffee shops are gaining fast casual characteristics. Fast casual restaurants are taking on more fine-dining type elements. And all across our industry, cross over is becoming commonplace.

Essentially, it's up to operators to think outside the box. How are they doing this? For starters, they're rethinking common conceptions about food and beverage service times and are coming up with some creative alternatives.

Just because an operation thrives as a high-end coffee shop during the day doesn't mean it has to close its doors at night. A serving cart that provides pastries and cereals for breakfast can also double as a dessert bar at night. Omelet stations for brunch can shift out their service to a pasta station at night. That coffee shop we mentioned? What if it doubled as a cocktail bar at night?

The key here is flexibility -- flexibility in thought, flexibility in concept, flexibility in execution, and the flexibility in the equipment it takes to pull it all off.

MENU VERSATILITY

When it comes to flexible serving options, the first thing to consider is the ability to serve multiple types of menu items from the same location. This means a given piece of real estate can be attractive to customers and guests for greater periods of time. This is the ultimate in flexibility and profitability.

MOBILITY

The next step in flexibility is having the ability to take foods and beverages to the guest instead of the guest needing to come to the operator. Mobile serving stations are an easy way to transform the point-of-sale from point-to-point.

USABILITY

The final aspect of flexibility is to find equipment that is known for its usability. How easy is it to transform a serving cart from breakfast service to lunch? Are carts easy to move? How long does it take to clean? What about service and maintenance? The bottom line is flexibility is only implemented by staff members, so equipment needs to be easy to use.

MISE EN PLACE

For the ultimate in flexibility, consider the Lakeside Mise En Place cart.  It easily transitions from a back-of-house helper to a front-of-house money maker.  Explore ideas and get inspired with more information here.

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Make Your Brunch Service Memorable with an Omelet Station

Make Your Brunch Service Memorable with an Omelet Station

A breakfast buffet can be one of the most anticipated and enjoyable aspects when staying at a hotel.

In fact, it’s one of the things that can help differentiate a hospitality-driven property from house-sharing companies like Airbnb and VRBO. Add an omelet station to that buffet, and guests just might think they’ve found hospitality heaven.

Why?

Diners can enjoy a customized experience as they choose with the ingredients they most crave. The omelet chef can not only expertly cooks superb omelets while guests watch, but he or she can also chat with guests, offer them true hospitality, and even offer tips about local attractions and activities.

Omelet stations bring breakfast dining to a whole new level.

What is an Omelet Station?

An omelet station is a breakfast hub where guests can take advantage of customized omelets cooked the way they like them. It is breakfast without the boring, service without the fuss. Omelet stations are ideally attended by a friendly omelet chef who takes the time to listen to the diner's preferences. The chef then expertly prepares the perfect omelet filled with the ingredients guests love.

The options for omelet fillings are limitless, with creative combinations ready to explore and savor. The chef can easily conjure up a meat-filled wonder stuffed with flavorful bacon, sausage, or even grilled shrimp. Vegetable-lovers are treated to a variety of choices including avocado or artichoke hearts. Classic cheese omelets can always be whipped up using a choice of interesting herbs and cheeses.

Of course, the best omelet stations require state-of-the-art equipment to succeed, and Lakeside Foodservice carries everything you need to help build an efficient and attractive omelet station that can help differentiate an operation from other options. And when you provide a satisfying experience, people will hear about it.

A BREAKFAST TO BRAG ABOUT:

Hoteliers can get a competitive advantage by making sure their omelet station stands out. It's easy to have guests raving about their breakfast experience long after they are gone by taking a few simple steps. A top-of-the-line omelet station helps boost ratings and encourages positive reviews.

Offer a Variety - People like choices and variety in a breakfast buffet, and offering a comprehensive menu selection can make all the difference. Chefs should be at hand to guide guests as they decide what combination of ingredients they want in the omelet. The chef should be knowledgeable about special diet requirements including gluten-free and soy-based options.

Offer a Greeting - Great food and a creative selection are only part of what turns breakfast guests into happy, repeat customers. A warm smile and a hearty morning greeting make guests feel welcomed and comfortable. The omelet station and its chef should be a friendly reminder of everything that is good about hotel dining.

Offer Ambiance - Helping guests to start their day is also about presentation. Soft joyful music in the background along with a clean and colorful station can set a positive mood. Using special plates and sparkling silverware can enhance the breakfast ambiance. Ingredient displays should be as cheerful as the chef creating a happy experience sure to bring the guests back for dinner.

Offer Knowledge - Good omelet-makers are not only skillful at assembling the perfect egg masterpiece, but they are also a wealth of local and venue information. They can talk about local traditional recipes or advise guests about low-calorie food choices. They should be as much prepared to answer questions about hotel operations as they are about community events and activities.

Benefits of an Omelet Station

There is something satisfying about watching a chef prepare what you are about to eat. Guests love the chance to interact with the cook knowing what ends up on the plate will be hot and fresh. The transparency of open cook-to-order omelet stations gives guests peace of mind while providing entertainment and the opportunity for hotels to shine.

Lakeside Foodservice has over 70 years of experience providing innovative and efficient equipment to the industry. Our friendly team of professionals offers customized and modified solutions to fit individual challenges and needs. Lakeside proudly manufactures all of its products in the U.S.A. Contact us anytime and let us know how we can be at your service.

With over 70 years of experience, Lakeside is perfectly situated to help implement an omelet station for brunch service. Lakeside offers a diverse product line that supports all your needs, including storing, heating, cooling, and display. We focus on collaboration with customers to find the perfect product solutions.

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The Benefits of Theater Cooking

Theater cooking and open kitchens are becoming a prominent and popular feature in the foodservice industry.

There are many ways that restaurants can incorporate elements of theater cooking, from a completely open kitchen to implementing action stations throughout the restaurant. Here are some benefits to incorporating theater cooking into a dining establishment, as well as some considerations for making this happen.

Highlighting the Dining Experience

Theater cooking brings with it a number of benefits, all of which can result in increased engagement and satisfaction from patrons. As younger demographics place more and more value on experiences, these items will become more and more important.

Provide an Experience

It is not surprising to see experiential dining increase in popularity given the focus Millennials place on dining out and documenting their dining experiences. Theater dining allows visitors to get more than just food for their money. They’re able to engage with the chefs, learn a bit about cooking, and have easy and engaging conversation topics to share with their fellow diners.

The icing on the cake is that theater dining makes for great social media content – for owners and patrons alike. Simply put, with open-style kitchens, dining can be as much about the entertainment as it is about the food.

Be Transparent

Theater dining is more than an experience. It also provides diners assurance that their food is being cooked in a skilled manner and in a clean environment. It also increases engagement between the chef and diners. A study has found that by allowing chefs to view the diners, they become more committed to providing quality food. The ability of chefs to feel the appreciation of the diners increases the quality of the food they produce. 

Save Space

Adopting an open kitchen can provide valuable, additional real estate, which can be critical given the costs of purchasing or renting a restaurant space. Open kitchens eliminate the wasted spaces between the kitchen and dining spaces, which can potentially lead to additional seating around the kitchen. This space-saving can mean the ability to serve many additional diners during each service.

Enhance Appetites

It has been found that seeing and smelling food can increase an individual's appetite. Putting your restaurant’s great food front and center will allow diners to be tantalized by the delicious smells and tempted by all the great food they see being prepared in the kitchen. 

Setting Up Your Open Kitchen

While it’s clear that theater dining can bring valuable benefits to a restaurant, setting up an open kitchen or action stations requires different equipment considerations than a traditional restaurant kitchen. You will need to decide whether to open up the main cooking area or create smaller action stations throughout the restaurant that feature specific food preparations. Operators also need to decide where to locate dishwashing and other functions that aren’t desirable for display.

Once the format of the kitchen is determined, the next step is to analyze the types of foods that will be prepared along with what equipment is required to execute the menu. For example, pizza, bread, and pastries could be well-served by a wood burning oven. A wok range could service a large variety of cooking styles, including Asian, Middle Eastern, and Italian. If you are serving Mexican or traditional American food, a grill or griddle might be a better option. Be sure to consider any regulations for your local areas, such as sanitation and ventilation. Just because you open up the kitchen, this doesn't relieve you of complying with these requirements.

Action stations can also provide a similar type of open-cooking presentation. The difference between action stations and bringing the back-of-the-house to the front is one of mobility. It’s hard to move a kitchen, but action stations can be relocated.

Lakeside Can Help:

With over 70 years of experience, Lakeside is perfectly situated to help you create a theater dining experience perfect for your restaurant. Lakeside offers a diverse product line that supports all your needs, including storing, heating, cooling, and display. We focus on collaboration with customers to find the perfect product solutions.

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One Easy Way to Save a LOT of Money on Senior Care Meal Service

The statistics are staggering. We waste as much as 40 percent of our food supply by throwing it away.

Essentially, that's like throwing away two $20 bills every time you bank out $100 from an ATM machine, and when you add it all up, it totals more than $160 billion annually. That's a lot of food, and it's certainly a lot of money.

Despite all the efforts by celebrity chefs like the late Anthony Bourdain to draw attention to these statistics and some of the creative efforts by countries and organizations to try to reduce it, food waste is still an enormous problem globally and is probably the biggest foodservice challenge here in the United States.

These facts are no different in healthcare generally and in senior care communities specifically. So how can it be reduced? Start by asking about the reasons food is thrown away, and the number one culprit is likely to be related to residents.

Essentially, food is being thrown away because though it may be served on the plate and lists are read, residents essentially don’t want it, aren’t eating it, and significant unwanted food is being thrown out.

Reasons Residents Choose Not to Eat and How to Prevent Those Foods from Being Wasted

PORTION SIZES

This is certainly the top contributor. If residents are receiving plates with too much food, a lot of that food is being thrown away. If patients are still hungry, they can always ask for more. But if those plates are portioned out with too much, that food cannot be reused and must be thrown away.

PREFERENCES

If meals are pre-determined in terms of what's being served, residents won't always have the chance to opt out of part of the plate they may not like. Food preferences can easily change but info sheets/tickets don’t always stay up-to-date. Standardizing plates that arrive without choice can result in foods being thrown away because they're not preferred.

STAFF MAKING ASSUMPTIONS

Too often, staff are in a rush and find it faster to make decisions on behalf of residents because they just assume they know what residents want. The problem is no one can decide really for someone else without a conversation. Too often in residential care, decisions are made on behalf of residents and this especially happens in the dining room on a daily basis.

What's the alternative? Self-determined meals.

How about this as a novel thought: Instead of bringing pre-selected plates to patients in a dining room, how about bringing the meal service to them so they can select what -- and how much -- they want, that follows all the CMS regulations and food safety guidelines. And it takes no extra staffing levels to do so.

By switching to this method alone, senior care communities can save enormous amounts of money on food that is typically thrown away. Even better, self-determined meals will also allow operators to provide a higher level of hospitality and results in residents more satisfied with the overall level of care received.

Does your senior care foodservice stack up?

You can learn more about ways to increase the level of foodservice in your senior care community, as well as how your operation rates, by taking our quick senior care foodservice assessment.

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A Quick Look at 2019’s Flavor Trends

A Quick Look at 2019's Flavor Trends

What flavors are people looking for in 2019? And who are the people looking for them? Let's take a closer look.

Thanks to the great research done by our friends at Foodable Labs, we have data compiled from nearly one million social media conversations between chefs, operators, brands, and influencers.

Based on these conversations, Foodable Labs was able to determine the top flavor profiles and cuisines of 2019, and because we love trends so much here at Lakeside, we wanted to break down those flavor trends for you here.

ASIAN FOODS ARE STILL POPULAR.

Over the last few years, we've seen a rise in popularity of Asian foods, especially the foods of Korea and the Philippines. In terms of flavors, options like hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger, and chili sauce are leading the way. And when they looked at menus, Foodable Labs found an increase in these flavors at a rate of 31.3 percent for independent restaurants and 29.5 percent in fast-casual operations.

SPEAKING OF HOT, IT'S HOT.

According to Foodable Labs, the jalapeño has been replaced by the habanero as the most popular pepper, with an increase on menus of more than 20 percent. "Hot" isn't just limited to the Scoville scale. It can also include different types of "heat" such as the type of sinus-clearing burn associated with horseradish, which is also gaining in popularity.

WHAT ABOUT A SWEET TOOTH?

Looking for something sweet? According to the report, we're craving sweets more now than ever. When it comes to true natural flavors, trends lean towards fruits such as mango, passion fruit and avocado (and yes, avocado is a fruit). As far as desserts go, salted caramel led the way, with other popular dishes including chocolate-topped items and anything with hot fudge.

PEOPLE LOVE PLANTS.

Consumers are looking for more plant-based menu options. There was a 23.5 percent increase in plant-based menu consumption in Millennials and a 21.9 percent increase in consumers between the ages of 45 and 55. These are the highest growing menu considerations amongst the main menu sectors.

Foodable Labs' plant-based menu statistics confirm our research as well. As part of our 2019 College and University Foodservice Trends Report, we detailed a consumer shift to plant-based foods out of a desire to reduce traditional meat consumption. Flavor innovations are feeding a rising flexitarian population, and consumers are now more responsible in their eating habits (from both a personal health and environmentally sustainability standpoint) by choosing plant-based proteins.

 

In our 2019 College and University Foodservice Trends Report, Lakeside dug deep and uncovered the 7 most popular trends we expect to see this year, most of which go beyond the flavor trends mentioned above. Check out these 2019 foodservice trends by downloading our free report.

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched seven top trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  Download your free copy today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!


Attend a brief 30 min. mini-webinar on the "7 Top Trends in C&U Foodservice!"

Join Nancy Lane on Sept. 19th for this quick, jam-packed webinar - 20 mins. content with 10 mins. Q&A.  The seven trends include:

  1. Sustainability
  2. Plant-Forward
  3. Labor Efficiencies
  4. Transparency
  5. New Normal
  6. Food Insecurity
  7. Infusing Digital

Click below and sign up today!

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The One Reason Food Waste Reduction Is So Popular

As good as it is for everyone involved, food waste reduction isn't as altruistic as everyone makes it out to be.

Yes, sustainability is one of our top 2019 foodservice trends (just 1 of 7 in our downloadable report). Yes, reducing food waste is one method to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption. And, of course, we want to do everything we can to effectively and efficiently deliver food into the hands of students and customers. But there's another reason college and university foodservice operations across North America are focusing on food waste reduction.

Money.

The reality is, we waste roughly 1.3 billion tons of the world's food supply annually. This accounts for a loss of nearly $990 billion. The United States wastes $160 billion of that total, accounting for as much as 40 percent of our food.

That's right. In the United States, we waste over one-third of our food. Imagine if we threw a $20 bill out the window every time we withdrew $50 from the ATM. That's essentially what is happening with our food supply, and as much as restaurants and foodservice operations want to do the right thing for both humanity and the environment, throwing away money is an even bigger reason to reduce food waste.

According to the non-profit organization, ReFED, which focuses on reducing food waste in the United States, there's a huge payoff when operations invest in sustainable measures. In their 2016 Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste by 20 Percent, they detail a benefit-to-cost ratio that is staggering:

For every $1 invested in food waste reduction, the savings potential can be as much as $8.

That's an incredible number. While operators know reducing food waste helps fight hunger, protect the environment, and even attracts important customer bases like Millennials and Gen Z who demand sustainable practices, the profit potential is enormous and appealing. Here are a few things to consider for your college and university foodservice operation:

RECONSIDER YOUR SERVICE.

Smaller plate sizes, smaller serving sizes, and even trayless dining are an easy way to reduce food waste. According to ReFED, smaller plates can reduce food waste by as much as 17 percent. On the buffet line, trayless dining reduces food waste as well. Lastly, reconsidering your menu can also have positive impacts when it comes to reducing food waste. To borrow a phrase, foodservice operations should "use the whole hog." For example, serve both the beet and the beet greens, thus eliminating some waste. Allowing guests to customize their meals should also be a consideration. By serving exactly what a customer requests, operators will reduce waste.

PLAN BETTER.

More accurate inventory management and production that are rooted in data can help save an operation thousands of dollars annually. According to ReFED, waste tracking and analytics can have the biggest business impact, helping the restaurant industry increase profits by as much as $266 million per year. Using this data to better plan for ordering and production schedules can help prevent overproduction, which is a big contributor to food waste.

DONATE UNWANTED FOOD.

Yep, giving food to those in need is a good thing for obvious reasons. There can also be a financial benefit too. Donating unwanted food is a recovery-based way to reduce food waste that can also provide your operation some tax incentives.

Reducing food waste is a sustainability initiative which is 1 of 7 key trends we cite in our 2019 College and University Foodservice Trends Report.

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched seven top trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  Download your free copy today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!

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Why a SuzyQ Foodservice Cart Is the Best Option for Senior Community Foodservice (and How You Can Pay for It)

The SuzyQ Cart System empowers senior care community residents in meal decisions, but there are more reasons than that to go with SuzyQ!

This unique system is designed to eliminate many of the challenges faced in residential care dining rooms, both from the operator perspective and from the client’s.  Meals can be served hot or cold, and space for all the texture modifications and condiments are delivered right to each resident's table, allowing her to "self-determine" what she wants to eat.

There are many ways to bring the meal to the table, though, so why use the SuzyQ Cart System (video)?

Designed with both operators and residents in mind, the SuzyQ's stainless steel construction is durable and reliable.  With a wide range of laminate finishes to choose from, it can easily fit within the décor scheme of just about any dining room.  It also comes with Registered Dietitian support which includes education resources, webinar classes, email and phone support to ensure success!

The SuzyQ also holds a variety of insert pan sizes, has a built-in plate compartment, and has pull-out storage drawers on full-size units to accommodate two full-size insert pans.  Basically, they hold the capacity to deliver a wide variety of choices to residents.  Plus, individual controls for hot wells deliver food hot to residents.

So how can you quickly pay for a SuzyQ Cart System? Start with some of the benefits:

REDUCE FOOD WASTE

When residents have control over what they want to eat -- and how much of it -- food waste plummets immediately.  Considering we waste roughly 40 percent of our food supply, every little bit counts -- and saves thousands of dollars.

ENGAGE LABOR

SuzyQ Carts bring meals right to the table allowing staff members to interact with residents.  This gives employees enjoyable, meaningful work resulting in increased retention levels.  And when operators don't have to constantly find, hire, and train new employees, they save money.

SAVE TIME

When all the back and forth trips are eliminated and staff members aren't running plates two at a time, enormous amounts of time are saved making labor usage more efficient and impactful.  And, yes, time is money.

CREATE HAPPIER RESIDENTS

The people who live within the community walls are the ones paying to be there.  People talk.  Potential residents read reviews.  So when residents are "wowed" by the foodservice component of their day-to-day lives -- and foodservice is a driving factor in overall review scores -- it becomes a marketing tool, courting future residents as well.

 

When you add all these things up -- actually, when you take the savings on food waste alone -- a SuzyQ Cart System can pay for itself very quickly, usually in a few short months.

We invite you to learn more.  Spend some time in a free, one-on-one webinar with the creator of the SuzyQ, Suzanne Quiring. Suzanne is a Registered Dietitian specializing in residential care communities, and she'd love to share her knowledge on how SuzyQ is working in hundreds of homes.

Suzanne Quiring, RD

To set up a free one-on-one webinar with Suzanne Quiring to explore how her SuzyQ Cart System can help improve your senior care community dining program, simply fill out the form to the right and she'll follow-up with you in person to schedule a time to get together.

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Are Sneeze Guards the Only Way to Protect Food?

They're certainly one of the most established ways, but this just might change your perspective.

Sneeze guards. Food guards. Breath guards. Whatever the term, there seems to be a lot of mixed opinions about them, including whether they're mandatory.

This is especially important as we move away from institutional tray service or pre-plate service, to meal service style that is mobile - either in a common dining room or down a hallway in a homelike setting of long term care. I decided to dig deeper into the food code by researching and reaching out to food safety experts to get their professional thoughts on this vague topic.

When looking at food safety, we have several tools to pull from. We use HACCP to identify and prevent hazards that could cause food-borne illness in receiving, storing, preparing and serving of food. We have food safety courses to teach us all how to handle food and take corrective action when necessary. Thirdly, we have the FDA model food code, and under the section about sneeze guards, it says;

“3-306.11 Food Display. Except for nuts in the shell and whole, raw fruits and vegetables that are intended for hulling, peeling, or washing by the CONSUMER before consumption, FOOD on display shall be protected from contamination by the use of packaging; counter, service line, or salad bar food guards; display cases; or other effective means.”

Looking closely, the FDA food code mentions food on display for the consumer to access must be protected by guards, cases or other effective means. This is not the application with mobile meal service done by trained food service staff. Also, “or other effective means” allows for dialogue about what the food safety plan is in a healthcare community. The food code makes operators responsible for the protection of food from contaminants, which is broader than just using some plexiglass, and the perception that sneeze guards “solve it all.” It requires common sense and a plan to demonstrate to health inspectors that foodservice operators know what they're doing.

I reached out to Janet Anderberg, a Washington state health inspector. She shared that sneeze guards aren't mandatory, but what's more helpful is for a foodservice operator to have an active managerial control plan to show how food is protected. It is the responsibility of the food operator to know, communicate and demonstrate their food safety plan which could include:

    • Covering food with foil or lids during transportation (always recommended)
    • Not parking a mobile food cart under dripping pipes
    • Not traveling through bathrooms with a mobile food cart
    • Allowing trained foodservice staff to serve food and items (not the untrained public)
    • Keep a safe barrier of distance
    • Using roll dome covers or insert flip lids if desired
    • Using tongs versus touching food directly
    • Keeping food outside the temperature danger zone
    • Using gloves with ready-to-eat foods
    • Proper and frequent hand-washing
    • Not dragging sleeves through food
    • Temperature records pre- and post-meal service
    • If serving outside, protecting food from contaminates from above, like birds or trees
    • When serving food, only serve food and don’t do other tasks that can possibly contaminate the food

Nick Eastwood, President of Always Food Safe weighs in and states:

“Though sneeze guards can play a helpful role in protecting food, it has a limited use. They can be helpful in a self-serve buffet where we let the customer near food. It can help reduce physical contamination and also bacterial contamination from skin and hair. But apart from this, sneeze guards offer very little protection. In our Food Protection Manager course, we do not state that they are mandatory or state they must be in place. Instead, food safety is a combined effort and one needs to look at the total picture; the use of professionally trained staff, time and temperature control, avoiding cross contamination and personal hygiene are by far the most important points. From a food safety perspective, I have a very strong dislike to pre-plated food being served as time and temp abuse is one of the biggest threats to food safety. Bulk mobile service would allow for temperature control and quicker meal service.”

Colleen Zenk, Food Safety Instructor and ANFP speaker shares her thoughts:

“The [FDA] Food Code regarding sneeze guards is open to interpretation when it comes to food safety. Sneeze guards, food guards, breath guards are used to protect food from the consumer during self-service, but not mandated where foodservice personnel is doing the serving. The key issue is the staff education and training regarding how food is protected during transportation and service of food to ensure it is safe. Sometimes operators or inspectors take the easiest and least time-consuming approach when determining safety of food by looking at sneeze guards as the protection, as it saves time looking and verifying other requirements. This leads to the incorrect assumption they are mandatory. Instead operators should have a conversation with their surveyor or inspector and communicate their food safety plan, and this is helpful before one’s food service system is changed. It is important that the [FDA] Food Code is used as a guideline, and to check one’s local regulatory authority. Also, do not be afraid to have the conversation with a surveyor or inspector but develop a relationship that demonstrates that food safety is a priority.”

It's interesting to note that there's no scientific research showing that sneeze guards are actually effective - none can be located when a literature search was conducted. Dr. Peter Synder from the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management weighs in and states:

“There is no reference to a food-borne illness that has ever been prevented by a sneeze guard or caused by lack of a sneeze guard. There is no research about blocking sneezes with sneeze guards. The sneeze guard is something that a sanitarian invented in about 1945, when the first food code was written. Overall, a sneeze guard does not protect against food-borne illness.”

The sneeze guard topic is one of cultural perception and we all need to know what the FDA Food Code does (and doesn’t say), the science, apply common sense, while also implementing sound and safe food serving practices. We must think bigger and broader about our food safety plan in residential care settings. Therefore, to say “you must have a sneeze guard” is too much of a simple quick answer to a more complex situation. Also, it's very important to look at the application: mobile meal service conducted by trained food safe staff is a very different application than the general public helping themselves to food on display.

Finally, mobile meal service is working in hundreds of health care communities - whether it's snack carts, beverage service, dessert carts, or mobile hot food carts. Our industry is working hard at changing the culture to move away from sterile, institutional living to one that more closely reflects how we live in our own homes. So I ask: Do you use sneeze guards in your own home? Why do we apply a completely different set of rules in homes where seniors live?

When we look at potential food safety situations, let’s review the risks and how they could lead to food-borne illnesses. I believe that mobile meal service actually decreases the risk of food-borne illnesses because food is hotter and it's served immediately by trained foodservice staff. Cold trays of food aren't sitting for long periods of time until handed out. As an industry, let’s focus on choice, interaction, and self-determination of safe food. By protecting food in numerous different ways, we can create a more positive dining experience for residents.

A special thank you goes out to Janet Anderberg, Washington State Health Inspector, Nick Eastwood with Always Food Safe, Colleen Zenk, Food Safe Instructor/Speaker, and Dr. Peter Synder for their time and expertise on the sneeze guard topic.


If you missed us at booth #120 at ANFP in St Louis, check out what you missed!

And, be sure to take our "Dining Experience Quiz" to see how you rank and receive pointers on how to improve your program!

ANFP 2019 Review - Dining Experience Quiz


Be sure to sign up for Suzanne's webinar, "Bringing Back CHOICE to Residents" where you'll learn how to:

  • Reduce high food waste by 30-50%
  • Serve significantly hotter food to residents
  • Eliminate multiple food preference lists to track and maintain
  • Improve customer service to residents
  • Improve overall meal satisfaction
  • Exceed CMS regulations and align with best practices (Pioneer Network, Eden Alternative)
  • Implement methods that are working in 800+ healthcare communities at all levels of care in North America

Date:  Wed., October 9th, 2019
Time:  10 AM PDT / 11 AM MDT / Noon CDT / 1 PM EDT


About Suzanne Quiring:
Suzanne Quiring, RD, CDM, CFPP has worked in residential care for over 25 years and has her Continuing Care Administrator designation. She has assisted over 800 healthcare centers and improved their meal programs with tableside service. She is the inventor of the “SuzyQ Cart System” by Lakeside. She has spoken at conferences throughout North America and is passionate about self-directed dining.

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Solving Labor Challenges in Healthcare Foodservice with Pride

When staff members love what they do, residents and guests love what they do, too.

It seems kind of over-simplistic to say it like that, but nothing could be closer to the truth. When staff takes pride in their jobs, when they engage with residents in authentic and memorable ways, not only will residents be happier with the overall service level of the community, but staff members will be happier, as well.

Don't take our word for it, though. Here's what a few labor experts had to say:

According to Deloitte's Talent 2020 series, which surveyed 560 employees across several industries around the world, one of the top three engagement drivers for employment was the ability to do meaningful work.

The reality, though, is this statement is common sense. It's obvious that staff members who love what they do, who are the most engaged in the process and how to improve it, are the ones who are likely motivated by the fact their work matters. The question then becomes, how?

According to the MIT Sloan Management Review and a study led by Professor Catherine Bailey called "What Makes Work Meaningful -- or Meaningless," the answer is deeply personal and individual. What's the point of this job? It really depends on who you ask. There were some trends, though:

* Meaningful work tends to be associated with a wider contribution to society.

* Significant memories of family members when related to on-the-job experiences tended to result in feelings of worthfulness. Basically, there's a relationship between family and job satisfaction, between what's personal and what's work.

* Meaningful work is not planned. Rather, unexpected moments during the workday were often the most impactful.

How does this relate to healthcare foodservice and senior care communities?

The bottom line is meaningful work is personal, interpersonal, and unexpected. So how can we empower foodservice staff members to have those types of day-to-day experiences? By putting them in the right positions.

First, it's impossible to force our way into someone else's head. This makes personal, independent decisions about what's meaningful and what's impossible. The other two factors, though, are certainly doable.

How can senior care communities put staff in intimate situations that remind them of their own families? How can healthcare foodservice operators give team members the opportunities to have serendipitous experiences in their day-to-day tasks? By creating situations where staff members are around the residents.

In foodservice this means getting the team out of the four walls of the kitchen and into the dining room.  When staff members interact with their guests and a community can adopt a service approach to the dining experience, the work becomes more meaningful and more personal.  Have the staff interact directly with the residents, ask questions, and really actually talk to them!  This increases team engagement, staff retention, and resident satisfaction - it's a win-win-win!


Learn more and continue the conversation.

Take the dining experience quiz which only takes a few minutes to fill out.  Afterwards, you'll learn tips and tricks on where you can improve and you'll also have the opportunity to coordinate a call with Suzanne to discuss your results.


If you missed us at ANFP '19, check out the products that we displayed in our booth by clicking here!


Be sure to sign up for Suzanne's webinar, "Bringing Back CHOICE to Residents" where you'll learn how to:

  • Reduce high food waste by 30-50%
  • Serve significantly hotter food to residents
  • Eliminate multiple food preference lists to track and maintain
  • Improve customer service to residents
  • Improve overall meal satisfaction
  • Exceed CMS regulations and align with best practices (Pioneer Network, Eden Alternative)
  • Implement methods that are working in 800+ healthcare communities at all levels of care in North America

Date:  Wed., October 9th, 2019
Time:  10 AM PDT / 11 AM MDT / Noon CDT / 1 PM EDT


About Suzanne Quiring:
Suzanne Quiring, RD, CDM, CFPP has worked in residential care for over 25 years and has her Continuing Care Administrator designation. She has assisted over 800 healthcare centers and improved their meal programs with tableside service. She is the inventor of the “SuzyQ Cart System” by Lakeside. She has spoken at conferences throughout North America and is passionate about self-directed dining.