Articles and Information from GA Foods

A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish

Posted by Glenn Davenport, President on Sep 14, 2016 1:00:00 PM

mission_vision_values.jpgAt GA Foods, we formally review our mission, vision, values and creed during our quarterly employee meetings.  As you know, people need to hear something several times for it to be really retained. Plus, new employees may be hearing it for the first time, and it is important that everyone understands our company's purpose, plans, and goals, as we go forward.

Our Mission

When we think of our company's mission, we think of it as "why we exist".  Our mission statement at GA Foods is simple, but very impactful.  

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We define nourishment a number of ways.  Obviously, it's about the food. But it's also about supplying what is necessary for life, health and growth; to cherish, to foster, to keep alive. "Nourishment" captures our compassion and our empathy for those we serve.  And then the word delivered.  Not only do we physically deliver meals to people's homes, but we also deliver on our promises.

Our Vision

Vision is "what we want to be". Our vision is very simple and easy to remember. GA Foods' vision is: 

Nourishment delivered, 30 million times a year, by the year 2020.

We abbreviate our vision as ND|30|2020.

Our Values and Creed

Our values are "what's important to us". We have six values:

Touching Lives
Commitment
One Team
Ownership
Integrity
Trust

We embedded these six values into our creed:

I am GA Foods. I touch lives. I am committed to working as one team, united by a sense of ownership and guided by integrity and earned trust.

At every meeting, I ask an employee to volunteer to say the creed from memory. If they do, I give them $50.00. I've been doing this for a couple of years, and we've never had a meeting where somebody could not come up and say the creed.  That's one of the ways that we keep our mission, vision, and values alive.

Lessons from a 13-Year-OldSarahKate.jpg

I shared with our team that the other day, my 13‑year-old granddaughter, Sarah Kate, told her parents and three siblings that “a goal without a plan is just a wish” and “are your habits that you have today on par with the dreams that you have for tomorrow?”

As a 63‑year-old President, and proud grandfather, I learn and am inspired by many; not the least of which is a 13-year-old.

Pictured: Sarah Kate

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Topics: GA Foods

Five Memorable TV Dinner Moments

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Sep 7, 2016 11:00:00 AM

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September 10th is National TV Dinner Day, a day that celebrates the convenience of pre-portioned meals.

Since their inception, TV dinners have become a staple in American households. The prepackaged individual servings of meat and vegetables (and sometimes desserts!) changed the way Americans made and ate dinner. Women were no longer cooped up in the kitchen all day, and surprise dinner guests were no longer an issue.

In honor of National TV Dinner Day, we've compiled the five most memorable TV dinner moments:

1. The invention of the TV dinner

The invention of the TV dinner is attributed to a handful of different parties. While other companies may have invented the concept, C.A. Swanson & Sons coined the term 'TV dinner'. Take a look at the timeline:

1945: Maxson Food Systems, Inc. manufactured “Strato-Plates” complete meals that were reheated on planes for military and civilian passengers.

Late '40s: Jack Fisher created FridgiDinners – frozen meals served in bars and taverns.

1949: Albert and Meyer Bernstein created Frozen Dinners, Inc. – frozen dinners that were sold under the One-Eyed Eskimo label. Their dinners were served on aluminum trays with three compartments.

1954: C.A. Swanson & Sons created TV dinners – their version of frozen dinners. Swanson launched an advertising campaign to familiarize the public with TV dinners and sold them in retail stores, leading to the product’s success.

2. The first TV dinner meal – Thanksgiving leftovers!

C.A. Swanson & Sons’ salesman, Gerry Thomas, is credited with inventing the TV dinner. On his flight home, Thomas noticed the airplane meals were served on trays. He drew a sketch of his own version of the tray and suggested this concept to his company as a solution to their mass amounts of Thanksgiving leftovers. Swanson paired this idea with the biggest trend at the time, TVs, and thus TV dinners were born. The first TV dinners were sold in retail stores for a mere 98 cents!

3. The 1960s TV dinner expansions

1960: Swanson added a fourth compartment to their TV dinner tray so that consumers could have … desserts! A couple of the dessert options were apple cobbler and brownies. This addition really sweetened the deal for American consumers, as many homemade meals included desserts.

1969: TV breakfast was introduced. Now convenient meals were available in the morning as well.

4. The first Hungry-Man spokesman – “Mean” Joe Greene

In 1973, Swanson released Hungry-Man dinners, which had larger portions than their regular TV dinners. Professional football player “Mean” Joe Greene was the spokesman. Check out the commercial:

 

 

5. The ‘out with the old, in with the new’ decade – the '80s

Another memorable time for TV dinners was 1986 – the year of the tray. The original Swanson TV dinner tray made its debut into the Museum of American History in 1986 when it was inducted by the Smithsonian Institute. Also in '86, Swanson marketed the first microwave-safe trays. Microwave ovens were becoming a necessity in U.S. households, and with the introduction of Swanson’s microwave oven-safe trays, cooking TV dinners became easier than ever before.

In 1985, GA Foods furthered the impact of frozen meals with the introduction of our dual-ovenable meal trays. As one of the first companies to provide home-delivered frozen meals to seniors, we provided recipients the flexibility to select "what you want to eat, when you want it". 

Today's Frozen Meals

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While the meals are no longer referred to as TV dinners, the concept of frozen meals is still cookin’. In 2016, more than 60 years after the invention of the TV dinner, freezers in American households are still packed with frozen, pre-portioned meals. Frozen meals remain a popular food choice because they are easy to make, and come in a variety of options. And, with home-delivered meals from GA Foods, the meals are healthy and nutritionally-balanced too!

The familiarity of frozen meals provides the comfort of home, especially for seniors who have seen frozen meals from the beginning.

For more information on selecting a home-delivered meals provider click here.

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

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Topics: Fresh vs. Frozen Home Delivered Meals, Nutrition, Healthy Meals for Seniors

Department of Elder Affairs Warns Florida Seniors of Phone Scam

Posted by Ritch Brandon on Sep 1, 2016 1:30:00 PM

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REPOST FROM STATE OF FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ELDER AFFAIRS 

Beware of aggressive callers posing as senior service providers

Tallahassee - The Department of Elder Affairs is warning Florida residents to watch out for scam artists who are allegedly making calls pretending to be the Department or an organization they refer to as Senior Services. These callers are using a method known as "spoofing" to make it appear on Caller ID as if the call is coming from a number belonging to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs' fax line - (850) 414-2004

 

The callers are asking for personal information, including credit card information for payment of services, including funeral insurance, and are attempting to defraud those they call. Several individuals from across the state, including many who are not elders, have contacted the Department of Elder Affairs about the harassing calls.

 

The Department of Elder Affairs does not solicit payment for services of clients over the phone, nor does it contact individuals in this manner. As technology progresses, scammers and con artists, are finding new ways to exploit elders, including scam phone calls appearing to be from trustworthy organizations, like Elder Affairs or law enforcement.

 

In the last fiscal year, the Florida Department of Children and Families received more than 50,000 reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of Florida elders. More than 8,100, or 16 percent, were reports of financial exploitation - the third largest category of reported abuse. Nationwide, almost 90 percent of all elder abuse occurs in a domestic setting, usually by a family member or someone the victim knows. These figures do not include exploitation by strangers, so the numbers could actually be much higher when factoring in fraud attempts like these phone calls from unknown parties.

 

The Department of Elder Affairs reminds you to never give out personal information to unknown individuals who call you, including credit card or bank account information, technology passwords, or your Social Security number. If you receive a call from (850) 414-2004, do not provide the caller with any personal information; simply hang up. If you received one of these calls and provided payment to the callers, please contact your local law enforcement to file a report.

#   #   #

The Department of Elder Affairs, the State Unit on Aging, serves seniors as they live, contribute, and build legacies in Florida. For more information, please visit www.elderaffairs.org

 

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Topics: Senior Health

Back-to-School Nutrition Tips for Families!

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Aug 24, 2016 11:00:00 AM

back_to_school_LR.pngAs children head back to school, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to celebrate Kids Eat Right Month by ensuring children are properly fueled to grow and succeed.

"The start of the new school year coincides with Kids Eat Right Month providing the perfect opportunity to revamp your families' eating habits," says registered dietitian, nutritionist, and Academy spokesperson, Caroline Passerrello. 

Here are some tips for developing healthy habits in your children:

Shop Smart

Get your children involved in planning and shopping for your meals. Make sure the planned meals have a variety of foods and include protein, vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy. At the store, encourage your children to pick out one or two new foods to try. Also, use this time to teach them about reading nutrition labels. 

Cook Healthy

Involve your children in food preparation. Let them cut and mix ingredients. Kids are more likely to try new foods if they help prepare them. This is also a good time to teach them about food safety practices such as washing hands before preparing food. For more tips about cooking with kids, check out this video.

Eat Right

School_Lunch_LR.pngEncourage your child to participate in school meals, such as breakfast and lunch. School meals now have strict nutrition standards that most lunches brought from home do not meet. A study done by Tufts University found that only 27% of the packed lunches met 3 out of the 5 nutrition standards for school meals. 

At the end of the day, sit down for a family dinner. Enjoy a healthy meal and share the day's experiences with one another. Research indicates that families who eat together have a stronger bond, and their children have higher self-confidence, and perform better in school.

 

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Topics: Child Nutrition

The FOUR Things ALL Food Service Staff Need to Know!

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Aug 18, 2016 2:34:39 PM

The most important component of food safety is employee training. Though some foodborne illnesses can be traced to specific suppliers, the manner in which food is handled is usually the culprit. 

Investing in training procedures that educate food handlers about the proper way to prepare food is of the utmost importance. Something as simple as an unwashed hand or a seemingly innocent sneeze really can compromise the integrity of a food product. Too many food service providers make the critical mistake of assuming that food handlers understand the nuances of proper personal hygiene. Some employees mistakenly believe that their personal hygiene is up to par when, in reality, it does not meet the standards of their employer.

Hand_Washing.png1. Proper Hand Washing

Every food service worker should be thoroughly trained in regard to how to clean his hands. Simply running warm water over one’s hands with a dab of soap will not provide a comprehensive clean that guarantees food safety. Rather, employees must be shown how to properly wash their hands. They should have the opportunity to view an in-person demonstration as to how hands must be cleaned before work starts, before returning from break/lunch and after using the restroom. To the surprise of many, a thorough hand-cleaning requires the use of hot water and anti-bacterial soap for a minimum of 20 seconds. Employees should be taught to perform a mental countdown during this hand-washing period to ensure their hands are thoroughly cleaned. Even the lower portion of the wrists should be cleaned as this area often comes into contact with food, dishes and utensils.

2. Correct Food Handling

It is imperative that food service providers train their staff to handle food in the proper manner. Every food service worker should use gloves unless gloves preclude the proper preparation of the food. The unfortunate truth is that few food service workers use food prep gloves as they should. Plenty of food service workers will touch food with their bare hands, assuming that a hand-washing performed hours ago will prevent the transmission of harmful bacteria and other particles that can cause illness. Food service managers should explain that touching knife handles, cutting boards, pots, pans, trays and other kitchen items can result in tainted food. Each of these kitchen items has the potential to harbor germs and viruses. Merely touching a pan’s handle with one’s hand and then using that hand to prepare food can spread germs to a diner’s meal. Employees must also be trained to discard their gloves after they have come into contact with other potentially germ-laden surfaces. Keep a fresh supply of food prep gloves on-hand at all times so food service workers do not hesitate to scrap their used gloves for a new pair that is guaranteed to be germ-free. Though a steady supply of food prep gloves will certainly add to overhead expenses, their aggregate cost is minimal compared to the risk of sickening a patron and the financial impact of an outbreak of food poisoning.

3. Avoiding Cross-Contamination

Proper food handling procedures extend beyond washing one’s hands and using food prep gloves. Employees must be extensively trained regarding cross-contamination prevention tactics. If possible, use color-coded cutting boards for different ingredients.  For example, green for produce and red for raw meat.  If budget doesn’t allow for designated cutting boards, food handlers should be taught to clean cutting boards and other food preparation surfaces after cutting raw meat, fish and poultry. These surfaces should be cleaned with hot, soapy water and sanitized with at least one tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach (or similar sanitizer) mixed with a gallon of water. 

Utensils used to prepare these foods should be cleaned with hot water and an anti-bacterial dish liquid before being returned to the food preparation area. If these food prep items are not thoroughly cleaned, they could carry harmful bacteria from the meat, poultry or fish and transmit it to the next item that is sliced on the surface or prepared with previously used utensils. Furthermore, it is imperative that food service managers train their staff to keep marinated poultry and meat in a covered dish at all times. This way, potentially harmful airborne particles will not be able to reach the food as it soaks up the marinade’s flavors in the ensuing hours.

thermometer_food_storage.jpg4. Storing Food and Temperature Management

When it comes to food storage, a surprising number of food service managers errantly assume their staff understands the basics. It is widely assumed that food service workers know the ins and outs of proper food storage simply because they have experience in the industry. In reality, most food service workers have drastically different ideas as to what qualifies as the proper way to store food. This is precisely why every employee should be extensively educated regarding the appropriate temperature for food storage and cooking.

If the temperature in the kitchen/food prep space is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, perishable food should be refrigerated within an hour or less. Otherwise, the widely accepted food safety standard for perishable food is to properly store in the refrigerator within two hours or less. Merely tossing perishable food like poultry and meat into the refrigerator/freezer will not suffice. These sensitive items should be tightly wrapped in a secure manner to preserve their quality. A thorough wrapping will also guard against meat juices from leaking out and tainting other food.

Food service workers should also be taught to use a thermometer to check the temperature of the on-site refrigerator and freezer on a regular basis. The refrigerator should always be at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less at all times. The freezer should be kept at zero degrees Fahrenheit or less. Though many food service employees will let fresh fish, poultry and ground meats sit in their home refrigerator/freezer for several days, there is a different standard when it comes to serving the public. Such food should be either cooked or frozen within two days. Pork, lamb, veal and beef should be cooked or frozen in five days or less.

For more training resources, download our free food safety training modules!

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Topics: Food Safety

How to Prevent Roaches and Other Pests in Your Dining Facility

Posted by Lou Hurd, Plant Manager on Jul 27, 2016 11:00:00 AM

With so many people relying on your facility for their daily nutrient needs, any evidence of pests can be devastating. Implementing sanitation procedures and creating an unfriendly environment for pests such as roaches, can help you keep things running smoothly and your clients fed.

Create a Hostile Environment for Pests through Sanitation

Pests are attracted to kitchen environments for many of the same reasons as humans. They are warm, they have wonderful smells coming from them and there is a supply of food. While common sense dictates carefully cleaning your kitchen to keep pests away, it goes beyond a general cleaning to create a hostile environment for pests. In food service, sanitation is key to creating a hostile environment for pests, and there are several steps involved in the process.

1. Seal all possible points of entry into your buildingcaulking.jpg

While it may not curb all roaches or some other types of pests from coming into your kitchen since they often find entry through shipments being received, you can significantly reduce the chance of pest infestation by sealing up any outside points. Look for even the smallest of openings around pipes, gas lines or vent ducts since pests and rodents can fit into very small spaces. A fully-grown rat can squeeze itself through a 1-inch opening, so if the opening is too large to seal with caulking, cover it with a screen.

Despite the heat that may collect in a dining facility, it is necessary to keep exterior doors closed to prevent entry. While receiving shipments and outgoing items may require frequent opening of doors, be sure your doors are closed immediately and are not blocked open for any length of time.

2. Outdoor cleanliness matters

Always keep the area outside of your facility free of trash and make sure any garbage containers are emptied regularly. Pests are attracted by organic matter breaking down, so the cleaner you can keep your disposal area, the better.

3. Practice good housekeepingsanitizing.png

Encourage your staff and volunteers to clean up spills immediately and to always thoroughly sanitize equipment after each use. When you consider the size of most pests, it does not take much for them to find a reliable source of food in your kitchen. Pay special attention to areas such as the space around mixers (where flour dust may go unnoticed) and meat grinders (make sure small particles of meat do not remain around the unit). Other areas of particular concern include drains, where organic matter can collect, and trash containers that need frequent emptying and cleaning.

4. Food must be adequately stored

The easier it is for pests and rodents to access food, the more likely you will be to face a problem with them. Whenever possible, use airtight containers to store dry goods and never leave bags of flour, oats or other grains open. Teach employees to put away items quickly when they are finished with them so the possibility of infestation is greatly reduced. Working clean helps make general housekeeping and sanitation efforts less taxing.

5. Limit the areas of food consumption and storage

If you have locker space for employees, they should be cleaned regularly, and food storage, other than the day's lunch or dinner, should not be allowed. Define an area for employees to eat, be it a break room or one area of your facility, and encourage them to keep it clean. These areas should be regularly given a thorough cleaning and included in your sanitation program so pests are deterred from finding a food source this way.

6. Select your pest control company carefully

Eradicating pests through pesticide use should be your last defense since it often results in product loss and downtime for your facility. Many pest management companies offer preventative services designed to be effective within food handling guidelines and can reinforce your sanitation efforts. Pest control should be considered a complement to your sanitation program rather than your sole protection.

Creating a hostile environment for pests and rodents is critical to your dining facility's success. With you and your employees working together to eliminate a food supply or comfortable habitation, you can prevent roaches, pests and rodents from putting your clients and your facility at risk.

GA Foods' goal is to become the industry gold standard in food safety and facility sanitation. We also want to help other dining sites and facilities excel in food safety practices. We have created a FREE self-audit checklist to help prepare your site for health inspections and ensure your team is following HACCP standards.

Download Free Health Inspection Self-Audit

 

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Topics: Food Safety

Everything you NEVER Wanted to Know about Roach and Other Pest Infestations

Posted by Frank Curto, Phd on Jul 20, 2016 11:00:00 AM

cockroach.jpgRoaches and other pests are, of course, a major concern for dining facilities – and the food industry as a whole. Aside from the basic “yuck factor”, which can certainly impact your customer base, these pests can be a serious health hazard to both workers and customers and can damage your bottom line via the destruction/contamination of products.

For these reasons, pest management is an integral part of day-to-day operations, and a good management plan depends heavily on knowing as much as possible about the issues you are working to prevent or resolve. To that end, here is everything you never wanted to know about roach and other common pest infestations.

About Roaches

Roaches – or cockroaches – are one of the most common pests to infest food service operations, and these pests have some very unpleasant characteristics. Among the most important of these is the fact that many have been shown to carry as many as 50 disease-causing microorganisms, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), including those at the root of diseases like salmonella, cholera, typhoid and dysentery, among others.

As these pests invade stored foods or scuttle across surfaces, dishes and utensils, they can leave these pathogens behind, spreading these illnesses to your customers and workers. Roaches are also the source of allergens that can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive people and respiratory symptoms in asthma sufferers.

All roaches are nocturnal insects. Some types live primarily outdoors, making nighttime raids on food service facilities, while others move right in, hiding during the day and foraging at night. All reproduce at a rapid rate, with females producing up to 40 eggs per month.

Since roaches typically make themselves scarce when people are about, they can be difficult to detect – especially during the early stages of infestation. Signs to watch for include roach droppings – which typically look like bits of pepper – around likely hiding places. These may include cracks, crevices, under shelf liners, beneath or behind appliances, in storage areas, around garbage or in basements and/or drainage areas. Additionally, inspecting the facility after dark – walking into a dark, quiet area and switching the lights on – can reveal roach activity that might otherwise go undetected.

Rodent Invasions

Mice and rat infestations are another very common problem in dining facilities. These pests can present serious health hazards – carrying and spreading diseases that include salmonella hantavirus, tularemia, plague and typhus. They can be extremely destructive as well, invading and contaminating food supplies, and gnawing away at walls, electrical wires and much more as they make themselves at home in your facility.

Telltale signs of rodent infestations include a musty smell, brown droppings shaped like grains of rice and signs of gnawing on food packaging, trash bins and/or other items. Often, inspections done at night with a flashlight can catch these pests in action.

Flies

These flying insects – most commonly houseflies and/or fruit flies – are another pest that commonly plagues food service facilities. These creatures also have the potential to spread disease, often carrying a range of pathogens – as many as 100, according to Food Safety Magazine – that can cause diseases that include typhoid, cholera, salmonella, dysentery, and parasitic worms. These insects breed in areas that contain moist organic materials – food scraps, for example – such as garbage bins, drains or the floors in food preparation areas.

Efficient Facility Sanitation Procedures: Your First Line Of Defense Against Insect and Rodent Infestations

These pests invade dining facilities because they provide reliable sources of food and water. Integrated pest management can make these facilities less attractive to pests. Efficient sanitation procedures are an integral part of any good pest management plan – helping to prevent new infestations or resolve existing ones.

Sanitation measures that are key to preventing or resolving these issues include keeping foods in airtight containers and storing them at least 5 to 7 inches above the floor, keeping floors and surfaces free of food debris, thoroughly cleaning areas that collect organic waste – floors, floor drains and garbage bins, for instance – at least twice weekly, removing food cartons immediately after unpacking.

Leaving a clear space along walls – inside your facility and outdoors – can help discourage rodents, as can keeping clutter – handy for nesting – at a minimum throughout your facility. Inspecting for roach droppings regularly and removing any that are found is also important, since these are an important food source for newly hatched insects.

A good pest control specialist can advise you on other measures to take to discourage pests, such as sealing entry points, controlling moisture, baits, traps, poisons and effective inspection techniques. However, good sanitation is considered by many such experts as the single most effective means of pest control.

GA Foods' goal is to become the industry gold standard in food safety and facility sanitation. We also want to help other dining sites and facilities excel in food safety practices. For more information on pest management in food service, download our tip sheet:

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Best Practices in Food Safety

Posted by Paula Ardilla, QA/HACCP Coordinator on Jul 13, 2016 11:00:00 AM

When it comes to food preparation, one can never be too safe. As evidenced by Chipotle's norovirus outbreak, foodborne illness has the potential to harm consumers and devastate a business's bottom line. The manner in which food is handled during the preparation process plays a significant part in determining its on-the-plate integrity. Sure, some of the blame for foodborne illnesses can be cast upon food suppliers that fail to grow, cleanse, store and deliver ingredients in the proper manner. Yet the main onus of food safety is on those who actually handle the food immediately before it is served.

Common Food Safety Stumbling Blockstemp_taking.jpg

Harmful bacteria can't be seen, tasted or smelled. This is precisely why food safety is such a daunting challenge. A food handler could prepare an absolutely gorgeous meal with diverse colors and tasty ingredients, serve it at the perfect temperature and unknowingly sicken diners. Even the slightest mistake in food preparation has the potential to result in mass illness.

In some instances, the ingredients are tainted with E. Coli or Salmonella from the get-go. In other instances, the food handler makes an error in the cold holding of temperature control for food safety. Some over-sanitize their food preparation space, unintentionally poisoning entree ingredients. Or, maybe food workers show up to their shift with unwashed hands or an illness and spread bacteria to a side dish/main course. A myriad of other food safety stumbling blocks regularly rear their ugly heads, from pest activity to cross-contamination and the use of expired ingredients.

The Four Main Steps of Food Safety

The Food Safe Families campaign has garnered significant attention for its food handling advice. The four steps of the campaign are as follows:

  1. Clean: Food handlers should always wash their hands before touching food. They should also wash their hands when returning from break and lunch. Furthermore, food preparation workers should thoroughly clean their hands after using the restroom. Merely running warm water over the fingers will not suffice. Rather, an extensive washing with hot water and anti-bacterial soap for at least 20 seconds is necessary.
  2. Separate: Food prep workers should be hyper-conscious of the possibility for cross-contamination. Cross-contamination can occur in a physical, chemical or biological manner. As an example, food handlers should take great care to avoid preparing something like a salad on a surface upon which raw meat was chopped.
  3. Cook: It is imperative that food handlers remain cognizant of the temperature at which each dish should be cooked. If meat, poultry and fish are not cooked at the proper temperature, the raw or under-cooked flesh could sicken diners. It is prudent to place cooking temperature “cheat sheets” in areas of the kitchen where meals are cooked.
  4. Chill: Food should not be left on the counter or other room-temperature areas to sit for extended periods of time. When in doubt, refrigerate food in a prompt manner. This way, there won't be an opportunity for bacteria to accumulate and possibly sicken those who consume the food at a later date.

Perishable food should be refrigerated within two hours, regardless of the circumstances. If the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, perishable items should be refrigerated within the hour or less. Unfortunately, many restaurants, eateries and other food service providers fail to check the temperature of their refrigerator and freezer on a regular basis. Use an appliance thermometer to ensure that the refrigerator is at a maximum of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The freezer should be kept at a maximum of zero degrees Fahrenheit. For more information on the steps to safe food, check out this blog article.

Food That Lacks an Expiration Date

If you were to poll food service workers regarding the expiration date for fresh food, you would receive an array of different answers. Most people think that fresh poultry, ground meats and fish can last for days. The truth is that these foods should be either cooked or frozen within two days after purchase. When it comes to veal, pork and lamb, the cook/freeze window stretches to a mere 3-5 days.

Freezing food is necessary to preserve its integrity beyond its initial freshness date. When in doubt, throw it out. Customer illness due to improper storage and general food worker negligence has the potential to harm the bottom line and even lead to crippling lawsuits.

Additional Food Preparation Tips

hand_washing.jpgThough most food service workers understand the importance of washing their hands, many forget to perform a thorough cleanse after handling food. It might seem a bit egregious to wash one's hands after handling each unique ingredient yet such a food safety tactic is vitally important to prevent the spread of bacteria and other harmful particles. Furthermore, the cutting boards, counter tops and utensils used to prepare food should be regularly sanitized with liquid chlorine bleach and water.

GA Foods is creating a culture of food safety. Our goal is to become the industry gold standard in food safety and facility sanitation. We also want to help other dining sites and facilities excel in food safety practices. We have created FREE food safety training modules for your staff. Click below to download.

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Topics: Food Safety

This 4th of July, Give Thanks

Posted by Lianna Lashley on Jun 28, 2016 1:31:42 PM

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For many, the 4th of July is an opportunity to gather with family and friends, light up the barbeque and blast off dazzling fireworks displays.  However, Independence Day is also a time to pause and reflect on the freedoms and liberties we enjoy here in America, and to offer our thanks to the men and women of our Armed Forces who have answered the call to serve this country.  

Let freedom ring! 

This weekend, while celebrating at your local parade, barbeque or fireworks display, take a moment to ponder what these things signify.  While we're enjoying the colors and booms of fireworks lighting up the sky, our enlisted servicemen and women are actually experiencing "bombs bursting in air".  While watching the local 4th of July parade with family, remind your loved ones that the very freedoms we are celebrating are still being fought for by our friends and neighbors. And while enjoying that mouth-watering barbeque and slice of Americana (a.k.a. apple pie), remember those brave men and women who aren't able to observe this holiday with loved ones, because they're fighting to preserve our way of life.

How you can give back...

Showing your gratitude to our servicemen and women can be as simple as saying "thank you for your service" or sending a thank you card. It doesn't matter how big or small the gesture, showing your genuine appreciation for the sacrifices made by members of our Armed Forces can deeply resonate. However, if you'd like to get more involved, there are a number of non-profit organizations whose mission is to aid our Armed Forces stationed overseas and our veterans faced with transitioning back to civilian life. Here are just a few...

  • A Million Thanks allows individuals to grant wishes for our troops.  Wishes can range from needing money to repair the family car, to taking a spouse on a long, overdue honeymoon when reunited.  You can also fund a scholar through the Million Thanks Education fund, which provides tuition assistance to children of our country's fallen heroes.

  • Operation Shoebox is an organization based in Florida that sends care packages and letters of encouragement to our troops.  A small bag of coffee, toiletries, or even sports gear can be the reminder of home that our troops need to boost morale while stationed overseas. 

  • Have a passion for knitting or crocheting? Operation Gratitude sends handmade scarves and hats to troops during winter. Knitting not your thing? Through Operation Gratitude, you can put together care packages and write letters for our troops too!

From the Revolutionary War to those stationed overseas today, the sacrifices of the men and women of our Armed Forces have made celebrating the 4th of July for 240 years (and counting!), possible. From all of us here at GA Foods, we sincerely thank all United States veterans and active-duty troops for their service to this country. Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

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Topics: Military, Armed Forces

Millennials vs. Seniors: How Sleep Needs Change As We Age

Posted by Lisa Gonzalez on May 25, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Our guest blogger, Lisa Gonzalez, has had years of experience with volunteering in nursing homes and organizing local senior activities. Realizing that this was her passion is what got her involved with ElderCorps.org, a resource geared towards the care and well-being of the aging population.

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Have you noticed that senior citizens tend to sleep less than those below the age of 65? Studies have shown that elderly individuals have more trouble falling asleep and staying asleep than their younger counterparts. While there are numerous causes for these sleep-related issues, it is important that everyone from millennials to seniors get quality rest.

How Sleep Changes Over Time

According to the National Sleep Foundation, humans go from needing up to 17 hours of sleep a day as a newborn to needing a minimum of 7 hours of sleep as a senior citizen. While this 10 hour shift may seem dramatic, it is important to remember that it occurs over an extended time period.

Additionally, once a person reaches his or her young adult years, the amount of sleep needed changes very little, if at all. In other words, once your body is fully developed, you should require a similar amount of sleep for the rest of your life. Though seven to nine hours per night is recommended for adults, there are variations from person to person.

Why Sleep Changes As We Age

Each stage of our lives comes with its own natural sleep needs:

Ages 0-5 Years: During this time, children’s bodies and brains are developing at a rapid pace, thus, requiring 10-17 hours of sleep each night.

Ages 6-17 Years: As children get older, their bodies are preparing them for the transition to adulthood. While they are still developing, the process is not happening as fast as it previously was. As such, they typically only require 8-11 hours of sleep during this time.

Ages 18-64 Years: At this time, our brains and bodies have become fully developed, which means we only require sleep to restore any damage done during our waking hours. During these years, the amount of sleep needed remains relatively constant, at about 7-9 hours per night.

Ages 65+ Years: During this time, seniors still require a similar amount of sleep as their younger counterparts (7-8 hours per night). Unfortunately, many seniors find it increasingly difficult to sleep after age 65.

Development throughout life, amongst other factors, dictates how much sleep we require. Once we hit age 65, however, many natural changes occur that can disrupt our sleeping patterns. These can include:

Changes in Melatonin Levels: Some doctors suggest that elderly individuals produce less of the hormone Melatonin, which is partially responsible for sleep.

Changes in Circadian Rhythm: Our Circadian Rhythm is our own personal internal clock that tells our bodies how to function properly throughout the day. Some doctors believe that this rhythm becomes increasingly off balance as we age.

Development of Insomnia: Sleep disorders, mental health issues (such as depression), physical ailments, and sometimes even surroundings can all lead to insomnia or sleeplessness and affect senior health. As we age, we are more prone to health-related issues, making it more difficult to sleep. Other factors that may contribute to sleeplessness in senior citizens include:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of social interaction
  • Lack of proper nutrition
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom
  • Concerns or anxiety about aging
  • Physical pain
  • Certain medications
  • Insufficient nighttime routine

Sufficient sleep is crucial for everyone, regardless of age, as it factors into many parts of our lives. However, as the elderly community is already at higher risk of medical and mental health issues, it is important that they are not exacerbated by improper sleep.

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