National Food Safety Month Week 4: Executive Team

Create a culture of food safety in your organization

Last week we talked about the role of multi-unit restaurant managers in promoting food safety and how having a management system in place can help standardize food safety across all locations. This week, we turn our focus to restaurant executive teams and pose the question: have you prioritized food safety by incorporating it into your restaurant’s culture?

Company leadership has the responsibility of implementing a culture that emphasizes cleanliness, accountability, teamwork, and the importance of following recognized food safety systems and protocols. Let’s take a look at how this can be achieved.

Executive Leadership’s Role in Food Safety

Food safety goes far beyond passing health inspections and meeting regulatory requirements. Creating a comprehensive food safety culture that is embraced throughout your organization should be one of the primary goals of senior leadership. Through proactive, well-executed, systematic food safety, the entire industry becomes stronger.

Developing a Culture of Food Safety

There is no one size fits all paradigm for instituting an effective and sustainable food safety culture. While individual organizations may trek different paths toward fulfilling this mission, they share one uniform goal: keeping consumers safe.

Following active managerial control (AMC) principles, your food safety management system should strive to:

  • Recognize potential foodborne illness hazards in day-to-day operations
  • Define standard operating procedures for critical steps
  • Monitor the effectiveness of actions utilized to control hazards
  • Train employees to prevent hazards by following specific control procedures
  • Have certified food protection managers on staff

Chick-fil-A, a family-owned and privately held restaurant company, prides itself on living up to high food safety standards. Chick-fil-A food handlers wear color-specific gloves for various kitchen tasks to avoid cross-contamination. Staff members use disposable sanitizing wipes, rather than reusable cloth towels, to clean dining tables and customers in eating areas are provided with pre-moistened sanitizing hand wipes. As a ServSafe certification training partner, Chick-fil-A is a staunch believer that exemplary food safety procedures result in higher quality food and enhanced profit margin through prevention.

Learn more about how Chick-fil-A and other high-performing companies are prioritizing food safety as a part of workplace culture in our whitepaper, Developing a Culture of Food Safety.

Do You Have a Culture of Food Safety in Your Organization?

How do you know if your organization is prioritizing food safety and fostering a culture of food safety throughout? Download our Score Your Organization worksheet to analyze your brand’s food safety culture and score your organization on essential food safety management principles. What you discover might surprise you.

National Food Safety Month Week 3: Focus on Multi-Unit Operators

From our partners at the National Restaurant Association

The secret to managing food safety across multiple sites

For week three of National Food Safety Month, we explore how restaurant managers overseeing multiple locations can standardize food safety across the entire workforce. Multi-unit managers must be able to manage day-to-day logistics, provide guidance for team leaders, and handle problems as they arise. Additionally, restaurant managers are responsible for promoting and maintaining safe food handling practices among all employees. So, how can multi-unit managers juggle these responsibilities and lead their teams to food safety success? By systemizing food safety management.

The Role of Multi-Unit Restaurant Managers in Food Safety

Multi-unit managers have many roles to fulfill. The most important one is keeping customers safe. Food safety must be at the forefront of every decision multi-unit restaurant managers make. This includes systemizing food safety management for consistency across all locations, keeping up to date on local regulations, and making sure every team member feels empowered by food safety knowledge.

Strengthening Your Food Safety Management System

Chances are, as a restaurant manager you already follow some sort of Food Safety Management System (FSMS). But how can you be sure your efforts to promote food safety are enough?

When workplace practices are rooted in strong, research backed policies and procedures, foodborne illness risk factors are significantly reduced, customer satisfaction is increased, and employees are more empowered to make smart food safety decisions.

A strong FSMS is rooted in active managerial control (AMC) principles. You can implement these principles into your restaurant operations through:

  • Training programs
  • Standardized procedures
  • Measures to gauge success

Learn more about strengthening your FSMS and leading your workforce to success in our eBook: Developing a Culture of Food Safety – Restaurant Manager’s Edition.

Know Your Local Regulations

Knowing the rules and regulations of your jurisdictional area is critical for staying on top of ever-changing retail food safety requirements. You should be familiar with your state food code and make sure you  keep abreast of changes or updates. Use this map created by the National Association of County Health Officials to find your local department.

As you’re probably aware, different areas in the US have varying requirements for food safety certification and training for restaurant employees. The ServSafe Regulatory Map is an interactive, up-to-date map that allows you to see your employee food safety training requirements. Visit the link below to view the Food Safety Management and Food Handling requirements specific to your operating jurisdiction now.

See national regulator map here.

Empower Your Team

Developing a culture of food safety throughout your operations starts with empowering employees. Employees who are informed of food safety best practices and have access to valuable information are more likely to develop winning habits.

ServSafe Ops is a restaurant operations management platform that drives operational efficiency through task verification, access to information, ongoing training, issue identification, employee engagement, and more. With customizable checklists and reporting, ServSafe Ops provides verification of tasks completed and acts as both a measure of employee performance and a method for engagement with your brand.

National Food Safety Month Week 2: Focus on Food Managers

From our partners at the National Restaurant Association

To kick off National Food Safety Month last week, we revisited food safety basics and explored the role that food handlers play in preventing the spread of pathogens. This week, we take a closer look at the role that restaurant and foodservice managers have in promoting a safe environment for their customers through self-inspection and risk mitigation. By learning what to look for in health inspections, managers can run regular assessments and make preparation a part of their staff’s regular routine. Let’s take a closer look at how managers can stay prepared.

A Manager’s Role in Food Safety

Restaurant and foodservice managers are faced with the critical role of fostering a food-safe environment. One of the best ways managers can create an ongoing strategy for success is by staying prepared for health inspections. Health inspectors want to know that  managers are running a safe, clean operation by checking for many of the basic food safety practices we covered last week. Running regular self-inspections is a great way to test staff knowledge, address problems at the source, and ensure a safe and enjoyable dining experience for customers. An equally important role managers have in fostering a food-safe environment is preventing dangerous foodborne illnesses caused by cross-contamination.

A Restaurant Manager’s Guide to Passing Health Inspections

Much like restaurant managers, keeping customers safe is a health inspector’s number one priority. In our guide, we go over some common health inspection challenges, the basic policies, practices, and requirements managers must have in place before an inspection, and what managers can do to stay prepared.

Download the self-inspection e-book here.

Performing Self-Inspections

Preparing for your next health inspection with a self-inspection checklist is a great way to make sure your staff is up to speed on food safety practices and check your facility for potential issues. Make sure to speak with your local health department about food safety guidelines for your area and review your state and local food codes frequently for specific requirements and updates.

Download the self-inspection checklist here. 

Risks and Prevention of Norovirus

Norovirus is a serious, highly contagious illness that is spread through close contact, contaminated food, or contaminated surfaces. This virus sends around 70,000 people to the hospital each year and nearly 70% of outbreaks can be traced back to infected food service workers. As a restaurant manager, knowing the risks can help you prevent contamination and manage an outbreak should one occur. These basic prevention tips can help protect staff members, customers, and the greater public:

  • Exclude food handlers who are vomiting or have diarrhea from the operation
  • Prevent handling ready-to-eat food with bare hands
  • Make sure staff are washing hands thoroughly, whenever required
  • Ensure fruits and vegetables are rinsed before use
  • Regularly clean and sanitize surfaces and utensils
  • Purchase shellfish from approved reputable suppliers

Watch the norovirus and hand-washing video here.


National Food Safety Month Week 1: Food Handlers

Contact RCS Training today for your food handler training! Learn more here.

From our partners at the National Restaurant Association

National Food Safety Month (NFSM) 2022 is here and we’re excited to kick off a month of exploring food safety at every level starting with the most essential restaurant employees: food handlers. Food handlers have an important role in keeping food safe, as many handlers come in direct contact with menu items. Simple safe food handling practices can help prevent the spread of pathogens and keep customers protected from foodborne illnesses. But as easy as safe food handling practices are to learn, they can also be easy to forget. Let’s revisit some basic food safety standards and best practices.

Food Handlers’ Role in Food Safety

The role of a food handler is so important that most states require restaurant and foodservice employees to obtain a Food Handler Certification as a requirement for employment. Customers trust that food handlers practice basic food safety and have their best interests in mind. After all, everyone wants to feel safe when dining out. Food handlers have a responsibility to meet the expectations of customers by following a food safety standard, or else run the risk of putting patrons in danger.

Basic Food Safety Practices

Practice Good Personal Hygiene

  • Know when, where, and how to wash your hands.
  • Only use single-use gloves when handling food. NEVER rinse, wash, or reuse gloves.
  • Keep fingernails short and clean. DO NOT wear nail polish or false nails. Make sure wounds are covered correctly.
  • Always wear clean, appropriate clothing and bathe daily. DO NOT wear rings, bracelets, or watches.
  • NEVER eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum or tobacco in prep areas, areas used to clean utensils and equipment, or in service areas.
  • If you are experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes), or a sore throat with a fever, report these symptoms to a manager immediately.

Learn more about when to wash your hands

Controlling Time and Temperature

  • Know which foods are most likely to become unsafe (temperature controlled for safety, or TCS food).
  • Keep foods out of the temperature danger zone: 41°F to 135°F (5°C to 57°C).
  • Know how to use a food thermometer.
  • Receive cold TCS food at 41°F (5°C) or lower. Receive hot TCS food at 135°F (57°C) or higher.
  • Store TCS food safely at the right temperature.
  • Cooked TCS food must reach the correct internal temperature and stay there for a specific amount of time.
  • Prepare food safely. NEVER
    • Thaw TCS food at room temperature.
    • Prepare TCS food in large batches.
    • Cool large amounts of hot food in a cooler or cool food at room temperature.
    • Use hot-holding equipment to reheat food (unless it has been made for this purpose).
  • Make sure cooked TCS food reaches the correct internal temperature and stays there for a specific amount of time.

Download this comprehensive cooking temperature

Preventing Cross-Contamination

  • Store food only in designated food storage areas, away from walls, off the floor, and wrapped or covered.
  • Make sure workstations, cutting boards, equipment, and utensils are cleaned and sanitized before prepping food.
  • Keep produce away from raw meat and wash before use.
  • When serving, do NOT touch the parts of dishes, glassware, or utensils that come in contact with food.
  • Always store chemicals and cleaning supplies in a designated storage area, NEVER store near food.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

  • Know the difference between cleaning and sanitizing: cleaning removes food and other dirt from a surface; sanitizing reduces pathogens on a surface to safe levels.
  • Know which surfaces to clean and/or which to clean and sanitize, when to clean them, and how to do it.
  • Use a dishwasher (when available) to clean and sanitize smaller items and a three-compartment sink for larger items.
  • Remove garbage from prep areas as quickly as possible. Do NOT clean garbage containers near prep or food-storage areas.
  • Look out for these pest signs:
    • Droppings
    • Nests
    • Damage to products, packages, or the facility


Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association Buyers Guide

The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (“FRLA”) has again partnered with Overland, KS-based Strategic Value Media, a leading nationwide provider of print and digital media solutions to the national, state and local trade and membership associations, to produce the 2022 edition of the FRLA Buyers’ Guide, the premier resource of relevant products and services for residential restaurant industry professionals. This will be the 8th year that the Guide will be produced.

A representative from Strategic Value Media may contact you by email or phone to inquire if you want to enhance your listing in the Buyer’s Guide. Please know this is a legitimate call and that SVM is partnering with FRLA to provide our members this resource for advertising your products and services.
Like the 2021 version, the 2022 edition of the Buyers’ Guide will feature updated and expanded company and product listings, in addition to other valuable information relating to the restaurant industry. The Buyers’ Guide provides users with an efficient way to browse for goods and services and offers restaurant, hotel and casino suppliers exceptional visibility by showcasing their products and services to a targeted, industry-specific buyer group.

The Buyers’ Guide is accessible through the FRLA website at and will be updated soon with new advertisements and information. To view the current Buyers’ Guide – click here. We encourage you to take advantage of this exceptional opportunity to highlight your products and services in the Buyers’ Guide.

To learn more about advertising your products or services in the Buyers’ Guide, please email


Floridians are dying from eating raw oysters. What you need to know about eating shellfish in the summer

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Summer is a deadly time for eating shellfish in Florida, particularly raw oysters.

Oysters served in Florida and traced back to Louisiana are infecting people with vibrio vulnificus, a bacterium that normally lives in warm seawater. The summer months of May through October are when the bacterium flourishes, so eating raw shellfish this time of year is the riskiest.

Already in 2022, six people in the state are dead from vibrio vulnificus, including a man from South Florida in July. At least 28 Floridians have become sick.

Along with oysters, vibrio vulnificus also can get into mussels, clams and scallops known as “filter feeders” because they filter the water for their food. Although vibrio is found in many locations, in Florida the infections primarily are from oysters from the Gulf of Mexico, although vibrio in the past has been found in oysters from the Eastern Coast as well.

Many have heard the refrain: Never eat oysters in the months without an “R” in them. That would be May, June, July, and August. However, you can get sick from eating raw or undercooked oysters during any month.

Determine the risk

There are ways to enjoy shellfish and stay safe.

Eating the shellfish steamed will help, but only if it’s cooked properly at the right temperature, for the right amount of time. Oysters need to reach an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees for 15 seconds to kill vibrio. Eating oysters, clams, mussels and scallops fried, charbroiled or sauteed is the safer way to go.

“When you eat anything raw, it comes with a risk,” said Dr. Razieh Farzad, seafood safety extension specialist for Florida Sea Grant at the University of Florida. “When I go to a restaurant and eat shellfish, I ask where it is sourced and how they cook it.”

You can’t detect vibrio by smell, and putting lemon or hot sauce on the oyster won’t kill the bacterium, Farzad said.

Fish also can ingest bacterium-infected oysters and that could cause harm, too.

“We don’t see it that often because people cook fish and because we usually eat filets, not the digestive track,” she said.

Florida law requires that all restaurants, seafood markets and retailers post warnings about the dangers of consuming raw oysters.

Many people ingest vibrio, and it makes them sick with symptoms such as vomiting, watery diarrhea, stomach cramping, nausea, and fever. Dr. Joshua Lenchus, chief medical officer of Broward Healthsays that scenario is most common.

“The symptoms start in 24 hours and usually after three days they are gone,” he said.

Only about a fraction of those who ingest the bacterium get severely ill or die.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 80,000 people get vibriosis —and 100 people die from it — in the United States every year.

And, while drinking beer and eating oysters are a favored pastime, alcohol consumption — and its potential damage to the liver — makes drinkers more vulnerable to a dangerous bacterium in the shellfish.

Those who die from vibriosis tend to have other factors that make them more vulnerable, such as weakened immune systems, liver disease, diabetes or HIV. In those rare and potentially deadly instances, vibrio invades the bloodstream, causing fever, chills, and septic shock.

“A recent study showed that people with these pre-existing medical conditions were 80 times more likely to develop vibrio vulnificus bloodstream infections than healthy people,” the Florida Department of Health website said.

That bloodstream infection is what happened with Roger “Rocky” Pinckney who died after eating a raw oyster at a celebratory dinner at Rustic Inn Crabhouse in Fort Lauderdale last month. Pickney arrived at the hospital with a fever and abdominal pain two days after eating oysters. After a week of emergency surgeries and a double amputation, he was pronounced dead.

Cautious steps

If you start feeling ill after eating shellfish, Lenchus says, drink lots of fluid. “Most people end up in the hospital because they can’t keep up with fluid,” he said. However, if the fever persists, he said you may need to get antibiotics, adding: “After two days if you are not better at all, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention.” Vibrio vulnificus is responsive to antibiotics, but the medication must be taken quickly.

If you are buying oysters or clams to cook at home, make sure all the shells are closed, says Farzad. “I suggest asking for the tag to see the time of harvest and if you see shells open, throw them away.”

It is not just eating oysters that can put you at risk. Swimming with them and shucking them can put you at risk, too. People with open wounds also can be exposed to vibrio vulnificus if seawater gets into the cut and the bacteria gets into the bloodstream. While some have referred to vibrio vulnificus as a flesh-eating bacteria, Lenchus at Broward Health says that’s not the case. You have to have a cut for it to get into your bloodstream, and once it gets in it could progress and cause sepsis, he said.

Other seafood that is risky to eat raw includes crab meat and sushi.

The U.S. has had outbreaks of vibrio parahaemolyticus infections linked to eating fresh crab meat. The symptoms are similar to those from eating raw oysters. The CDC recommends looking for the word “pasteurized” on the label when eating crab meat. Pasteurization uses a high temperature for a long enough time to kill illness-causing germs.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus, the bacteria in crabs, is estimated to sicken about 45,000 people in the United States each year.

With sushi restaurants now populating South Florida, eating raw fish carries risks, too. While sushi-related infections are uncommon, eating sushi is not entirely without risk. Raw fish or seafood can contain disease-causing bacteria, parasitic worms, toxins, and viruses

“Sushi is highly regulated in the US in ways to protect us from parasites or bacterial infection,” Farzad at UF explained. “Restaurants have food codes so I assume if I am eating in a restaurant it is safe, but anytime you are eating something raw you are dealing with risk.”

Sun Sentinel health reporter Cindy Goodman can be reached at

Congratulations to Florida’s New Michelin-Recognized Restaurants

TALLAHASSEE — Last night was a great victory for Florida restaurants, including dozens of FRLA Members across the state, who were recognized by the revered Michelin Guide. Restaurants in Tampa, Orlando, and Miami were recognized in categories for one star, two stars, Bib Gourmand awards, and recommended restaurants. Sommelier of the Year and Best Cocktail were also awarded.

“Guests come from across the state, country, and globe to experience Florida’s world-class dining options, said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “Not only is the Michelin recognition well deserved, but it will bring more people to our state, to our hotels, and to our restaurants, strengthening our communities and the overall health of our hospitality industry. Congratulations to our many FRLA member winners and to all recognized!”



2 Stars 

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Miami

1-Star Awards 


Boia De

Cote Miami

The Den at Sushi Azabu Miami

Elcielo Miami: Juan Manuel Barrientos

Hiden:  Chef Shingo Akikuni

Le Jardinier

Los Félix

Stubborn Seed: Jeremy Ford

The Surf Club Restaurant: Thomas Keller

Bib Gourmand (Value for Money) 


Chug’s Diner


El Turco

Ghee Indian Kitchen

Hometown Barbecue Miami


Krüs Kitchen

La Natural


Lung Yai Thai Tapas

Mandolin Aegean Bistro

Michael’s Genuine

Phuc Yea

Red Rooster Overtown

Sanguich de Miami

Tinta y Café

Zak the Baker

Zitz Sum

Sommelier of the Year

Victoria James, Cote Miami

Exceptional Cocktail Award

Ruben Rolon, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Miami and Le Jardinier Miami

Michelin-Recommended Miami

 Mister 01 Extraordinary Pizza

Nossa Omakase



Estiatorio Milos

Joe’s Stone Crab


Le Zoo


Josh’s Deli

Latin Café


Sushi Yasu Tanaka



Buya Izakaya + Yakitori




Hakkasan Miami

Niu Kitchen


Luca Osteria

La Camaronera


Hiyakawa Miami

Doca Provisions

Café La Trova

Los Fuegos by Francis Mallman

Pao by Paul Qui

Hoja Taqueria

La Mar by Gaston Aurio

27 Restaurant & Bar


Havana Harry’s


1-Star Awards in Orlando

Knife & Spoon




Bib Gourmand 

Bombay Street Kitchen

Ravenous Pig

Papa Llama



Swine & Sons

Z Asian

Michelin-Recommended Orlando


California Grill

Orlando Meats


Se7en Bites


The Pinery


Kabooki Sushi


Pizza Bruno


Kai Asian Street Fare

Black Rooster Taqueria


Tori Tori

Shin Jung

Maxine’s on Shine

Sticky Rice

The Polite Pig

Four Flamingos, A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen

Moriomoto Asia

Sear + Sea


Bib Gourmand

Ichicoro Ramen


Rooster and the Till

Michelin-Recommended Tampa

Bern’s Steakhouse



Restaurant BT

Oak & Ola





Mise en Place



Yummy House


Bistro BT

On Swann


To visit the Michelin Guide site for all Florida-recognized restaurants, click here.





Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Highlighting Asian American and Pacific Islander Contributions in Florida’s Hospitality Industry

Since the 1970’s, there have been efforts to celebrate the rich cultural contributions brought to America by those of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage. In recent decades, May has been designated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI).

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have contributed greatly to the American community through various industries including the arts, science, business, and more. Here in Florida, we could not be more proud of the numerous contributions of individuals from Asian American and Pacific Islander backgrounds to make Florida’s hospitality industry the strongest in the nation. In honor of AAPI heritage month, we would like to highlight just a few amazing individuals and their outstanding achievements to keep us Hospitality Strong.

Dennis Chan, Chef and Owner, Blue Bamboo, Jacksonville, Florida

Dennis Chan grew up in the hospitality industry and his family’s record of restaurant ownership dates back more than 80 years. His dream was to follow in the family business, and, after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he opened his own restaurant. His leadership in his community and in the local and statewide hospitality industry is commendable. During the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was able to not only survive but grow and thrive. He was recently announced as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Person of the Year for the entire state of Florida. We cheer him on as he travels to DC next week for his honors and nomination for the national award. Thank you, Dennis, for your passion, your service to your community, and your leadership on the FRLA Northeast Florida Chapter Board!


Sheldon Suga, VP & Managing Director, Hawks Cay Resort, Duck Key

Sheldon Suga is an outstanding and longtime leader in the hospitality industry – not just in Florida – but across the world. His background extends to hospitality executive positions in Canada, Puerto Rico, Japan, and more! Sheldon is known for his kindness and business leadership and has served on his local FRLA chapter boards. Most recently, Sheldon served as FRLA’s Chairman of the Board in the longest tenure and throughout the worst crisis to face the hospitality industry in recent history – the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the crisis he faced in his day-to-day position managing a top national resort in The Keys, he was leading efforts as Chairman of our statewide Board to strategize on best practices and policies to help alleviate the struggles that were paralyzing our industry. His involvement in advocacy for Florida hotels and restaurants was key to our accomplishing so much during the 2021 Legislative Session and helped our industry begin its long road to recovery. Thank you, Sheldon, for your tenacity, kindness, and leading us back into doing what we do best – providing the best customer service for our guests to keep them coming back!

Olivia Hoblit, Regional Manager, Innisfree Hotels, Amelia Island and Current Chairwoman of the FRLA Board of Directors

Olivia Hoblit is incredibly special to Florida’s hospitality industry and FRLA. She currently serves as Chairwoman of the Board for FRLA. We recently highlighted Olivia’s thoughts on leadership during Women’s History Month. Coming to the U.S. from the Philippines as a young teenager, she was determined to succeed in a new country. And she surely has! One of Olivia’s most well-known principles is investing in the people around her, those who serve underneath her, and locating those individuals with talent to mentor them. She gained so much from being mentored and invested in, so her passion is paying that forward. She believes strongly in the high school programs that introduce students into hospitality – HTMP for hotels and ProStart for culinary. Knowing there are leaders out there like Olivia, with her focus on the people and the future of the industry helps us to secure that future as we face historic labor challenges. Her mantra is to “always make things” better, and with Olivia leading, we know she will continue to do just that.

Thank you to Dennis, Sheldon, and Olivia for speaking with us and letting us feature you this month!

To learn more about Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, click here.