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March 02, 2018

The Gold Standard in Food Safety

Freddie Mac's café in McLean, Virginia was recently recognized with a 14 Carrot Gold Food Safety Excellence Award by the Fairfax County Health Department. Freddie Mac's café was one of ten winners selected from more than 3,400 eligible establishments inspected each year by environmental health specialists with the Health Department.

"Food safety is really at the core of everything that we do," said Guido Boers, manager of corporate food services and amenities at Freddie Mac. "If we can't ensure that foodborne illness is not an issue, then you might as well fold-up shop and go home."

Boers works closely with Sarah Tucker, FLIK Hospitality Group's resident district manager, Freddie Mac's corporate dining vendor, to feed thousands of employees every workday with healthy dining choices for breakfast and lunch, and features cuisine from around the world.

"We have to be joined at the hip," said Boers of his relationship with Tucker. "They can do everything they do, but if I'm not following through on my end with facilities, upkeep and equipment, it stops at some point as to what they can accomplish."

As to what Tucker's team accomplishes, they invite a third-party auditor on a quarterly basis to spend the entire day in the kitchens to review FLIK's process, from receiving procedures, cooking procedures and temperature logs, to overall facility cleanliness. They also have daily point meetings to discuss food safety and specific topics of interest. Every three years, FLIK employees take the ServSafe exam – a nationally recognized food safety training and exam.

All that training is to make sure Freddie Mac's cafés throughout its McLean campus operate at the highest level of food safety. The 14 Carrot Gold Food Safety Excellence Award shows that their diligence is working.

The Fairfax County Health Department's Environmental Health division conducts close to 8,500 site visits at more than 3,400 restaurant and food service establishments annually in Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church. Health inspectors look for potential risk factors that contribute to foodborne illness, such as an unapproved food source, poor food employee hygiene, improper cooking temperatures, inadequate cold and hot holding of food, and cleanliness of food contact surfaces.

"A lot of people take food safety for granted," said Boers. "To me, foodborne illness is like a plane crash, meaning an incident is not usually caused by a single thing going wrong, but several things that did not happen. If you have the proper procedures in place, something could fail, but there are enough safeguards in place to stop something bad happening. Through training and technology, we have those safeguards in place."

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