Identify which observations to make based on the current outbreak
Observe the flow of food handling practices and processes
Document the observations made
Before making observations
Review the investigation notes to determine if kitchen observations are warranted:
Is there epidemiological evidence implicating a food?
Is the outbreak associated with a suspected/confirmed etiologic agent?
Did the manager or food worker mention food handling or preparation concerns?
Did the clinical specimen, food, or environmental sampling results test positive?
Review available materials from the establishment:
Food Handling Guidelines
Selectively determine which processes to observe:
Preparation of food implicated in the outbreak
Preparation of foods commonly associated with the etiologic agent (i.e. chicken with Salmonella, hamburgers with E.coli, deli meat with Listeria)
Preparation of foods associated with kitchen or handling concerns (i.e. the refrigerator door is broken and doesn't close completely, meat thermometers are broken, difficulty distinguishing between meat and produce cutting boards)
During the observations
Take detailed notes on your observations
While you observe, walk and talk through steps and processes with the food worker
Ask questions if you don't understand a particular process
Identify and note any food handling or preparation safety concerns
After the observations
Organize and review your observations notes
Review and compare notes from previous manager and food worker interviews
Identify any inconsistencies between the information provided to you and your actual observations
Review food establishment policies
Food flow diagrams are a useful alternative to a written narrative for depicting complex, multi-step processes
Take photos of documents and observations
Quick reference list of potential food handling practices to observe: glove use, hand washing, refrigeration, reheating, storage of leftover foods, maintaining a buffet or salad bar, checking and maintaining cooking temperature logs, deliveries, cleaning and sanitation
Example Food Flow Diagram (PDF) (click on the document below to download it)
Food Preparation Review (PDF) (click on the document below to download it)