When people become ill after eating, they often tend to believe that the last thing they ate was the food that made them sick, but this is rarely the case, as it normally takes at least 12 hours, and up to 48 hours for the most common food-borne pathogens to have a symptomatic affect on the consumer. At a minimum, an evaluation of all food eaten for the past 2 days is critical to begin making a correct assessment of where an exposure may have occurred.
|Food-borne illness (often referred to as food poisoning) is a potentially serious health risk that can be caused by a number of factors, and is usually diagnosed by medical evaluation and laboratory testing. Symptoms of food-borne illness can take many forms and vary by disease. Many different kinds of illnesses (and some allergic reactions) can also cause the same symptoms that people attribute to food poisoning, with incubation periods that can range up to 3 months, depending on the pathogen. The incubation period is defined as the time delay from when food is eaten to the first onset of symptoms. Once a person’s exact disease type is diagnosed by a lab, health investigators routinely use known incubation periods to work backwards up to 90 days to determine the likely source of a person’s illness.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know may have a food-borne illness, you should contact your doctor for immediate medical attention.
The most common types of food-borne illness can be avoided through proper food safety, which includes everything from basic food handling and careful cooking, to product controls, sanitation, and training.
Food Safety is of critical importance at Sequoia Sandwich. All of our restaurants have consistently received an “A” rating from the Kern County Environmental Health Department demonstrating our commitment to their high standards.
|The most critical factors in food safety are:
• Temperature Control
• Cross Contamination Prevention
• Sanitation Standards
• Staff Training
|Keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot is extremely important to food safety. Over 40 degrees and under 140 is considered a danger zone where bacteria can begin to develop over time. At Sequoia we are utilizing the latest in modern technology to monitor temperatures of all of our refrigerated equipment. We use a system called “Monnit” at all of our stores which remotely monitors and reports the interior temperatures of each piece of equipment every hour. Any recorded temperature that rises past a set safety limit causes a message to be sent to a manager. All of our stores also utilize laser temperature probes to determine in less than a second the temperature of any item – without any contact with the food. Finally, we also maintain a contract with one of Bakersfield’s best commercial refrigeration company’s to perform bi-monthly preventative maintenance on all of our cold equipment.
CROSS CONTAMINATION PREVENTION
|Cross contamination of certain raw foods is one of the leading causes of food-borne illness. One of the most common problems is when raw chicken is improperly stored, handled or prepared in the presence of other foods. At Sequoia we store any raw meat products on the bottom shelves of our walk-in refrigerators so that if there were to be any leakage, drips have no where to go but onto the floor, not onto other foods. In addition, when ready for preparation, we use color-coded cutting boards specifically for raw meats, cooked meats, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and bakery products. Use of these separate boards helps prevent prohibited foods from coming in contact with each other.
|Dirty restaurants are not only unpleasant to dine in, but if the dining room and bathrooms are dirty and in disrepair, one can only imagine what the kitchen might look like where your food is prepared. Unsanitary facilities can lead to possible contamination of food products and in turn possible food-borne illness. At Sequoia we are extremely proud of our commitment to strong sanitation standards at all of our restaurants. From patios and dining rooms, to restrooms and kitchens, we strive to keep our premises super clean. Every night a professional janitorial company deep cleans each store.
|During the day we use a special sanitizer solution for cleansing work surfaces, soaking work towels, and cleaning pots & pans. In addition, all of our staff who have contact with unwrapped food wear gloves, and we stress constant hand washing, so gloves go on top of already clean hands. We encourage staff to change gloves at every opportunity, and require it when stopping to pick something up, or after touching raw meat products.
|Every one of our employees, including dishwashers & cashiers, has successfully completed a course in food safety approved by the State of California. In addition, all Kitchen Supervisors at Sequoia are fully ServSafe certified. ServSafe is an advanced classroom course and certification in food safety for full-time food service professionals.
THE FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN
|Another important factor in maintaining food safety is insuring that all food products come from reputable, reliable suppliers who share the same commitment to food safety as Sequoia. Since our beginning, Sequoia has had a strong relationship with Sysco, the nation’s largest food distributor. In addition to Sysco, Sequoia also uses one of the valley’s largest produce suppliers; FreshPoint, to source most of its produce. Most of our meat and cheese comes from Boar’s Head and Saags, two of the nation’s premier manufacturers of premium deli meats and cheeses. We never purchase from any source where it cannot be tracked back to its origin.