This week’s Ftag of the Week post on the CMSCG Blog is the final part of our review of F812 Food Procurement, Store/Prepare/Serve – Sanitary. We will look at food service and distribution, as well as provide some infection control reminders.
Food Service and Distribution
Now that we have discussed food safety from the procurement, storage, preparation and cleanliness standpoints, we need to discuss the processes that are involved with getting food to the residents. Whether a facility uses a tray line with transport carts to resident dining areas, remote kitchens with steam tables or hot/cold temperature controlled carts to distribute and serve food, it is important that there is consistent temperature control from preparation through distribution to the resident.
The facility’s systems for food preparation and remote service areas must ensure risks are minimized by not:
- Handling food items with bare hands
- Improperly handling equipment and utensils or using soiled utensils to serve meals
- Serving food on soiled dishware
- Using the steam table to heat food (this does not bring food to proper temperatures within acceptable timeframes)
- Holding foods in danger zone temperatures (between 41 degrees F and 135 degrees F). PHF/TCS foods should have their temperatures monitored periodically during meal service and on the tray line to ensure proper hot/cold holding temperatures are being maintained.
Staff should wash their hands before distributing trays to residents, and if staff collect soiled plates/food waste during meal service, their hands should be washed again before serving food to other residents. There is a long list of hygiene and infection control requirements that food service staff need to adhere to. Nursing staff involved in meal service also need to adhere to proper infection control practices.
Personal Hygiene and Infection Control Reminders for Food Service Workers
- Employees must utilize proper handwashing techniques and have access to appropriate hand washing facilities that have soap, hot water and disposable towels and/or heat/air dryers available for their use.
- The use of antimicrobial gel cannot be used in lieu of proper hand washing in food service settings.
- The use of disposable gloves does not replace the need for proper hand washing. Handwashing must be completed before putting on gloves as well as after gloves have been removed.
- Employees should never touch any foods with bare hands.
- Facilities need to ensure that infectious individuals do not handle food.
- Employees who handle foods must be free of communicable diseases and infected skin lesions and have fingernails that are kept clean and neat.
- Dietary staff are required to wear hair and beard restraints (if applicable) to keep hair from coming in contact with food.
As you can see from the past few blog posts about this topic, the regulation has very specific criteria that must be met to be in compliance with the requirements at F812. On survey, there is a kitchen tour and meal observation/s which can lead to a number of deficient practices being identified both in the kitchen and dining areas. It is important for providers to routinely audit and monitor staff job performance regarding their responsibility to ensure food is handled and distributed safely to residents.