Eat, Wed and Be Weary? Health Scores Are As Important When You Wed as When You Dine
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Those bright, yellow signs at restaurants always catch my eye because I want to make sure that I dine at restaurants committed to the proper handling of what they serve me.The health code signs are required to be posted for the public and include all of the things that a restaurant has done correctly or incorrectly to ensure your food is safe to eat.
What you may not know is that when you hire your cake artist and wedding caterer, you should also be asking for their health code score. After all, you are hiring them to feed your 200 closest friends and family and it's your job to keep them safe.
Vicki of Signature Cakes by Vicki is a Nashville cake artist that has a 100 health code score! This is not an easy feat, but it does show that Vicki and her staff not only make great looking and tasting cakes but they are also made in a way to minimize health issues for your guests.
We reached out to Vicki, who is an authority on the subject, to learn more about her health score and also discuss what you, as a bride or groom, might want to consider as you hire a cake/catering professional.
What does it mean to get a score of 100 from the Tennessee Department of Health?
A score of 100 is very hard to receive and maintain. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “you have to have all your “I’s” dotted and your “T’s” crossed.” Besides having to be immaculately clean, you know eat off the floor clean, you have to know and perform every rule of law according to the Tennessee Department of Health. And believe me, there are a plethora of rules! Here’s an example of the kind of attention to detail that the health inspectors are notorious for.
The first time I was inspected in my new bakery before we opened, the health inspector asked me, “Do you wash your pans and utensils from left to right or right to left.” I looked at the triple sink and thought to myself, obviously there’s a right answer here. In all my years of working in commercial kitchens, that was a new one on me. I replied, “I know that there is a correct way, would you please instruct me.” She replied, “Since your hand washing sink is on the left next to the triple sink, you must wash from left to right. That will put your dirty utensils on the left. That means that if you have any splash and contamination from washing your hands, it will splash on to dirty equipment, not clean utensils. The clean utensils will be all the way to the right side sink board.”
There are rules for storage. There are rules for materials that cabinets and counters are made from and coated with. There are rules for temperature for the refrigerators and temperature of the water. There are even rules about what type of light bulbs you are allowed to put in the fixtures. That very first inspection I received a 99 instead of a 100 because my broom’s bristles were touching the floor and the rule of law is that the broom must be upside down, bristles up. Since then our score has been 100 four inspections running or 2 years.
How many cake professionals are typically this highly regarded?
It is very difficult to receive a 100 and even more difficult to maintain it - there are few who do. I suggest that brides and grooms ask to see the current inspection report that should be posted in every bakery. If they do not see it, they can log on to the Tennessee Department of Health website (dogwood.healthspace.com/tdh) and put in the name of the bakery/restaurant to see the history of their scores. If you cannot find the bakery in question, ask the bakery what name is on their license/permit.
A lot of brides consider family friends or casual bakers versus professionals to do their wedding cake. But, these folks do not have a health score. What does this impact? Why does it matter that a bride hire a cake artist have a health score?
Health scores are provided by the Tennessee Department of Health to protect and inform the public. Could your family, friends or cake amateur do a good job? Possibly, but the standards set by the health department are in place to protect the public from bacteria, germs and disease. For instance, we are provided with a disclaimer issued by the health department that each staff member must sign. It requires each worker to STAY HOME if they are sick. They make the commitment to do that and the owner of the company expects them to abide by it. That is just one example of providing a safe envirnonment for the production of your wedding cake.
Do pros usually have sort of liability insurance when it comes to maybe food poisoning or other things that might impact the health of their guests?
Yes they should and usually do. We do. It is not required by the State but is required by certain professional organizations like TWESA.