Expert Topic Food spoilage

The following article was published in May 2014. It has been reviewed and updated as necessary by the ProBrewer editorial staff.

Additional sources on Food Spoilage see; Starsan vs DEH/Food Manager training

by Mark Davidson

Today’s brewpub faces a litany of potential exposures to its survival. We are going to look at few that are often overlooked by small breweries and brewpubs, yet still represent a real exposure to the success of the business.

Food-borne illness is an often under reported threat that can be prevented with proper care and handling of food. There are 76 million reported food-borne illness cases in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The multi million dollar settlements of Escherichia coli (E. Coli) cases like Jack In The Box and Odwalla remind us of the dangers and hazards of a mass food poisoning claim. Yet there is a prevailing thought today, that many brewpub owners feel the exposure is not a worry for them.

Brewpubs, like any other restaurant, can have their business license suspended and/or be fined by local, state or federal health departments if a food-borne illness is traced back to the brewpub. The company is also susceptible to a civil suit.


The first step in preventing food poisoning is to assume that all foods may cause food-borne illness. The following are steps to prevent or minimize outbreaks:

1. Implement a strict policy of washing. Wash hands, food preparation surfaces and utensils thoroughly before and after handling raw foods to prevent recontamination of cooked foods.

2. Know the law – Some states for example require that most retail food establishments that handle unpacked foods must employ at least one person whom is certified in food safety. Contact the USDA and the FDA for new laws in your state.

3. Most bacteria flourish in the temperature range of 40 degrees F to 140 degrees F. Refrigerated foods warmed to above 45 degrees for more than 2 or 3 hours may not be safe. Frozen foods, kept closed in a fully stocked freezer will stay frozen for 2 days. But, a freezer that is less than half full will not stay frozen for more than a day. These guidelines should be remembered whenever there is a power outage.

4. When in doubt, throw it out.

5. Make sure your Business insurance program has some provisions for food spoilage and food contamination.

Observing simple rules of good food handling and having good risk management procedures in place can prevent Food Poisoning.

Mark Davidson is co-founder of the Golden Brew Insurance Program

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