Sub Visual

RESOURCES & SUPPORT

STAFF CONTACT

Monika Zuluaga

Vice President, Membership & Marketing

401-223-1120, ext. 116

Monika@rihospitality.org

Dale's Corner

This blog is written by Dale J. Venturini, President/CEO of RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) and RI Hospitality Education Foundation (RIHEF). Its purpose is to engage RIHA members with current issues and trends.

Dale J. Venturini
President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association

Our food supply system, while infinitely safer and better regulated than most other parts of the world, still has its challenges. We’ve all seen the headlines and recalls from E. coli in produce, to salmonella in proteins, to human-contact illness like the norovirus. While thankfully it’s not a frequent occurrence, it can be a potentially devastating blow to a retailer or restaurant.

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 800 foodborne disease outbreaks reported in 2013 that resulted in 13,360 illnesses, more than 1,000 hospitalizations, 16 deaths and 14 food recalls. Fish, mollusks, chicken and dairy were the most common single-food categories implicated in outbreaks, and the most common causes of outbreaks were norovirus and salmonella. Sixty-percent of outbreaks occurred at sit-down restaurants, 14% at caterers or banquet facilities and 12% in-home.

Recently, a multi-segment restaurant with locations throughout the United States experienced five separate outbreaks of foodborne or human-related illness that forced the temporary closure of more than 40 locations and has shattered consumer confidence in the brand. They included multiple outbreaks of E. coli in nine states that sickened more than 50 diners; multiple outbreaks of the norovirus in which more than 230 customers and employees were affected in California; then recently in November, in which more than 140 college students in Massachusetts were sickened. 

Prior to these occurrences, this chain was known as a brand that did the right thing. They sourced their ingredients properly using only non-GMO vegetables and proteins from animals that were not cage-raised. They made customers feel like they were making smart, healthy choices for themselves and for the planet.

The truth is that even restaurants with the best track records can be susceptible to either foodborne illness or human-contact illness. The most important plan a restaurant can have in place is a food-safety protocol that reinforces the safe handling of food and addresses potential sickness in employees.

However, even with the strictest policies in place, there are still deficiencies. More and more we’re seeing bacteria developing in produce from the location where it is grown. And, if these vegetables are served raw, like tomatoes, all of the washing in the world will not remove an organism that lives inside the food product.

As this chain struggles with its brand reputation and works to ensure that its locations have never been safer, their climb back to the top of the quick-service-restaurant mountain will not be easy. Even though they have hired the best food-safety experts in the field and have committed to far-exceeding industry standards, that journey will take some time. Regaining public trust is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you are a restaurant operator or owner reading this column, I urge you to revisit your safety procedures and to ensure that every manager is up-to-date on all necessary certifications and that your food-safety handling protocols are fully compliant with the law. In the coming weeks, the RI Hospitality Association will be hosting a seminar on this topic and our panel of experts will be able to fully address any questions or issues that arise.

We all need to put foodborne illness and food-safety handling at the top of our agendas in 2016. Our industry has a huge responsibility to maintaining public trust and ensuring that we provide the best and safest possible experience for everyone.

For more information on food safety, please visit: www.rihospitality.org or


List of Articles
No. Subject Author Date
40 The Best and Brightest Shine Brightly at RIHA’s Stars of the Industry Event file Monika Jan 15, 2019
Well, we did it again…Rhode Island’s amazing hospitality industry converged on Twin River Casino Hotel to celebrate our best and brightest of 2018. This annual event is truly the highlight of my year, and even though it takes an enormous amo...  
39 ‘Tis the Season of Giving Monika Sep 20, 2018
Hope everyone had a wonderful summer filled with rest, relaxation and rejuvenation and is now raring to go! We are fully in the season of giving – no, not the holidays – but, an even more stressful time of the year, the political season. Now...  
38 That’s a Legislative Wrap! file Monika Aug 16, 2018
After a marathon session of debates and a flurry of votes, Rhode Island’s General Assembly has adjourned for the summer. With hundreds of bills in the mix, the RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) spent countless hours carefully monitoring each...  
37 Summer in New England: Be a Tourist in Your Own Backyard file Monika Jul 05, 2018
When many of us think about summer vacations, we think about jumping on a plane and traveling to a far-off destination. However, for those of us who are fortunate enough to live in New England, there’s no need to venture too far to enjoy som...  
36 Our Next Generation of Culinary Stars: Cooking and Planning Their Hearts Out file Monika Jun 11, 2018
Recently, Providence, RI hosted the National ProStart® Invitational (NPSI), the country’s premier secondary-school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts. We had some wonderful judges visit from all over the nation as...  
35 Swimming Down “STREAM” Monika May 15, 2018
Education is truly the foundation of success no matter what career path you choose. Some learning is done in traditional classrooms, and more practical experience is gained in the thick of it in a restaurant or hotel kitchen, lodging establi...  
34 The #MeToo Movement is More than a Hashtag file Monika Mar 02, 2018
While the #MeToo movement has become synonymous with the entertainment industry, its reach is far deeper than the bright lights and golden statues of Hollywood. From politics, to business, to manufacturing, to hospitality, the potential for ...  
33 “We are made of star-stuff. Our bodies are made of star-stuff. There are pieces of star within us all.” file Monika Jan 02, 2018
“We are made of star-stuff. Our bodies are made of star-stuff. There are pieces of star within us all.” – Carl Sagan There is no greater honor for me each year then to be part of our industry’s largest celebration! Each November, I look forw...  
32 Paid Sick Leave Passes RI Legislature file Monika Oct 10, 2017
In September, both the Rhode Island House and Senate passed legislation that will require companies to give employees paid sick leave. Although the RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) is generally opposed to mandates that impact the employer-e...  
31 When did ‘Entry Level’ become Negative? file Monika Sep 19, 2017
If there is one theme that has dominated the political landscape in Rhode Island for the last decade, it is without a doubt jobs and the economy. Though we have seen a rise in the local economy since the recession, talk of job creation still...  
30 Taking the High Road – the Road Less Traveled file Monika Jul 24, 2017
Normal 0 false false false EN-US KO AR-SA Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association It is increasingly difficult to take the high road in today’s political climate. And, so few are doing it, but it is critically important....  
29 Paid Sick Leave – it’s Nothing to Sneeze at RIHA May 08, 2017
In Rhode Island and across the nation, we’ve seen a host of legislation introduced by out-of-state special interest groups that have squarely targeted the hospitality industry. From eliminating the federal tipped wage, to raising minimum wag...  
28 Buying Local for the Holidays Monika Nov 15, 2016
The holiday season is fast approaching…from a retail perspective, it seems to come earlier and earlier each year. While I was shopping for Halloween candy this year, I was sidestepping Christmas trees, holiday decorations and specialty choco...  
27 The Cost of ‘Chip’ Cards and Protecting Against Fraud Monika Oct 04, 2016
By Dale Venturini, President and CEO, R.I Hospitality Association  Many of us currently have an EMV credit or debit card – also known as a ‘chip’ card. These safer versions of the traditional magnetic-strip cards were designed to protect co...  
26 Gluten is Not Free in Restaurants file Monika Sep 01, 2016
Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association We all know people who struggle with food allergies. From peanut butter, to shellfish, to strawberries, to dairy, the idea of dining out when one has a food allergy can be an alarmi...  
25 Managing a Better Future file Monika Jun 30, 2016
The hospitality industry is a continuously growing segment of the U.S. economic picture. This year alone, the restaurant industry is expected to realize $783 billion in sales and employ 14.4 million in good-paying jobs, according to the Nati...  
24 Partnerships – They’re Not Always the Obvious Choice file Monika Jun 06, 2016
Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association I’ve written extensively about the need to collaborate with organizations that share the same business interests. Whether a business partner’s mission is within your organization’s ...  
23 How Important is a Proactive Crisis Plan? Your Business Could Depend on it. Monika May 05, 2016
Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association   With the spate of negative media headlines surrounding restaurants that have experienced foodborne or human-contact illness, it is critically important that every eating establis...  
22 Where Have the Teens Gone? file Monika Apr 04, 2016
Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association It used to be that almost every teenager had a job in the hospitality industry. With flexible hours and class-friendly scheduling, our industry was the perfect landing spot for high...  
» The Real Cost of Foodborne Illness file Monika Feb 02, 2016
Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association Our food supply system, while infinitely safer and better regulated than most other parts of the world, still has its challenges. We’ve all seen the headlines and recalls from E. co...