Stratas Foods addresses the “new normal” for doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic and offers insights into how everyone can incorporate mitigation and safety into everyday work life.

With states continuing the reopening process, all need to take a closer look at how to do this properly, according to Mitch Riavez, Certified Master Baker, and senior national accounts manager at Stratas Foods. His tips for reopening include:

  1. Prohibit sick employees in the workplace.
  2. Apply strict handwashing practices, robust procedures, and encourage habits to clean and sanitize surfaces.
  3. Enforce that the person in charge of a food service facility is a Certified Food Safety Manager.
  4. Consider grouping staff together (i.e., Group A, Group B, Group C, etc.) with no work hour overlap and set social distancing standards.
  5. Familiarize yourself with new laws and ordinances at the local, state, and national levels.
  6. Post signage inside and outside of your location that explains your safety and cleanliness standards so that customers have complete confidence in your business.
  7. Discard all food items that are out of date.
  8. Change, wash, and sanitize utensils frequently and place appropriate barriers in open areas.
  9. If providing a “grab and go” service, stock coolers to no more than the minimum levels. 
  10. Refrigerated cases and the walk-in box: Please check all dates on products such as lunch meats, salads, dairy items, yeast, Icings with dairy products in them, eggs, butter, and margarine. If you must question the product yourself, please discard.
  11. The donut fryer: Remove all shortening and clean with a boil-out. When refilling the fryer, it would be best to use a Hi-Oleic Shortening, as it has a better shelf life.  
  12. Dry goods: Most dry goods should be fine to use, but things to look closely at are, any shortenings that have been opened. Check all items for contamination of any kind.  
  13. Nuts, chocolate, decorations, sprinkles, pastry shells: These are items that you may have left out and wrapped very well. But things to look for carefully are, if there is any contamination visible at all before using.  
  14. Wet goods, shelf stable: These would be items such as donut dips, fudge bases, fillings, and oils.  Please note that if you used them before closing and you put your hands in them, then the product is subject to cross-contamination.  
  15. Paper products: Cardboard sheet cake boards are a breeding ground for pests. And if we haven’t been in our shops for weeks at a time, it is necessary to check them all.

A native of New Jersey, Mitch Riavez worked at his family-owned bakery from the age of twelve. In his early twenty’s Mitch worked as a bakery technician for some of the largest industry manufactories and distribution companies in baking. In 2002, he became a Certified Master of Baking by completing all curriculum and testing at The Culinary Institute of America.