KANSAS CITY - In the wake of COVID, most retail bakeries have had to make physical changes both to the front and back of the house in order to keep safety protocols in place, said Bernadette Haas, director of operations for the Tinley Park, Ill.-based Retail Bakers Association (RBA).
“Their concern is not only to keep their customers safe, but also to keep their staff safe,” Ms. Haas said. “We've seen bakeries make physical changes, like plexiglass dividers and removing indoor dining. We've also heard of bakeries that have started doing ‘pod’ scheduling so that if someone does get sick, only that pod needs to quarantine. Our bakers truly did a pivot to make things work and keep the doors open.”
Some sections of the instore bakery have been hit harder by the pandemic than others. Consumers, for instance, have kept their distance from anything that requires a lot of touching.
“Most self-serve areas in a bakery have drastically changed,” Ms. Haas said. “We've done a lot of work to help bakeries with new ways to package baked goods so that those areas are safe.”
Fortunately, she added, that’s not all bad news. One silver lining is that limiting what's in cases and what’s individually wrapped saves on waste. Bakeries should take advantage of this time, Ms. Haas said, to think of ways to eliminate over-production and waste.
RBA’s motto is "Relevant, Reliable and Resource Rich,” and the organization has been proving it during the pandemic with new tools to help its members. Since March, RBA has rolled out new education initiatives, town hall meetings and roundtable discussions so that its bakers have not only have the latest information they need but also a support group of like-minded business owners.
“As a business owner that must pivot fast to keep the doors open, it's so important for them to know they are not alone, and we are in this together,” Ms. Haas said. “What our members also get from the RBA is a strong voice in their corner when it comes to legislation. Although we are not a lobbying organization, we know the value of strong partnerships that will work to ensure our retail bakers are front of mind.”
BAKERY STORAGE: FOOD SAFETY MUSTS
- Date and rotate all items as you put them away so the first items received (IN) are the first items used (OUT).
- Store time/temperature controlled for safety (TCS) products in coolers immediately after receiving them. Coolers should keep products cool at or below 41° F (5°C).
- Take only what you need out of refrigeration to begin a production job.
- Place highly perishable items back in refrigeration when called away.
- Return items to refrigeration as soon as you finish the job. Store frozen products immediately after receiving them.
- Freezers should hold foods frozen at or below 0° F (-18 ° C).
- Thaw potentially hazardous items in refrigeration, never at room temperature.
- Check freezers and coolers for accurate holding temperatures. Store newly received products in manufacturers’ original packaging.
- In coolers, keep raw and baked products separated.
- Do not stack raw products, such as raw eggs or egg washes, above baked items, as they may drip onto baked products and cross-contaminate them with harmful bacteria.
- Keep raw products and baked products in separate coolers and freezers or on opposite sides of the storage units. Store all bakery products off the floor at least 6 inches (15cm). Place all open bags of ingredients in covered bins to keep out rodents and insects.