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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fiesta de Salmonella and How to Avoid it!

Take a little trip with me, will you?

It's Saturday morning and you are putting the finishing touches on the cake that is due later this afternoon, when all of a sudden you hear your iPhone ding. You've Got Mail!

Being the disciplined Cookiepreneur that you are, normally , you wait to check them twice a day but what the heck, you need a break and decide to take a five minute breather and check in, after all it may be another quote request .

 $$$Cach' ching$$$  

You notice the sender's name is familiar. Wait a minute, it's the client whose cake you delivered yesterday. You are filled with anticipation, excited to hear about how much everyone enjoyed the cake you made for her little Prince. Her only son, David that just turned 7 . You know she is happy because you put your heart and soul into that cake and it looked flawless. After all, your skills are improving by the day and it was for him and 20 of his classmates. You know what that means, lots of kids, lots of moms, lots of referrals.

As soon as you start reading , suddenly, that icy/hot feeling comes over you when you realize it is NOT a note singing the praises of your gorgeous cake. Much to your chagrin and horror, you discover that instead of happiness she is now wishing a horrible death upon you. She is HORRIFIED and PISSED off.

Everyone who had cake at David's party got sick, especially her little Prince, who had TWO slices because he loved his GI Joe Military Camo Cake. He is now traumatized, and chances are he will not join the military because of the case of explosive diarrhea and vomiting your cake has caused him.


WHAT? Your Cake? Never, Impossible! Could it be true?

Ooops, Fiesta de Salmonella sucks.  If you have been there, you know it is NO party, especially for kids, it's downright dangerous.  So what happened? You are always so careful.


Well, when working from home, especially if you live with someone it else can happen, because you do not have 100% control of your kitchen space at all times so ....

Unbeknownst to you, this is what really happened:  Remember that awesome chicken your partner prepared for dinner the night before last when (s)he saw saw how hard you were working?  Well, after (s)he was seasoning that chicken on the cutting board, (s)he forgot to wipe down the counters with bleach and some of that raw chicken juice got on there.

You are working in limited space, and it looks like (s)he cleaned up pretty well so you deemed it safe to place your spatulas in the EXACT place the chicken was and BOOM ! cross contamination took place.

Those little suckers multiply FAST, and now it's in your icing , on your cake, or  in your cake because you sliced it with a knife that was placed in the same spot where (s)he put the raw chicken down and now it has spiraled into this.

So now she is threatening you. She wants her money back and she may even sue.  You are panicking,apologetic and mostly distraught because you don't understand what could have possibly happened but you have to deal with it.

Okay ,I  know I exaggerated, A LOT! I confess I really wanted to grab your attention. This is highly unlikely but by no means impossible. I know you are very careful about your kitchen and your cleanliness but stuff happens. That's what I'm here for. To help you think about all of these things so they don't come to pass.

Where Do We Go From Here ? 

If you take my advice , chances are that will not ever happen.

If the situation does occur, you apologize profusely, issue her a refund and you use solution number 2, if a law suit should arise (very, rare case). From now on, make sure to wipe down all surfaces you are planning on working on with a bleach solution.

1. Avoid that situation altogether by getting your Food Handlers Certificate.
2. Purchase Food Liability Insurance , to cover you in case of that kind of a situation.

Let's take a quick look at both.

Get Your Food Handlers License ASAP. 

It's incredibly affordable and you can do it online. You can take an online food safety course and download your Food Handlers certificate, once you pass the exam at www.Servsafe.com . It's the best $15.00 investment you will EVER make in your business, it just makes sense.

In a nutshell, you will learn about general food safety, food temperature, how to store your food in the refrigerator properly and how to place food so that it does not become cross contaminated. Loads of useful information that you will need and is practical for home use as well.  

There are other companies out there but,  ServSafe is my favorite. They have have a map feature if you click on the image below, you can choose the state you work from and they will give you the appropriate information about the certificate you need .


 Purchase Cottage Food Liability Insurance

This one is a no-brainier if you are baking 2-5 cakes per week for customers, you can afford it.  Sharpen up your pencils and do your math. Make sure to roll this into the cost of your product. Policies start at about $300.00 per year and quite frankly, it's better to be safe than sorry. Flip offers a great product to Cottage Food entrepreneurs



So , I will leave you with all of this in mind.  Safety is paramount.  I do recommend both, but at the very least, if you are just getting started and not making that many orders, get your Food Handler's Certificate and that will help you avoid a costly mistake that could ruin your reputation, and pocketbook.

So I hope you had a good laugh, but in all seriousness more than anything, I want you to understand the importance of food safety for your clients, and your reputation as a successful Cookiepreneur.

Remember that they key to success is persistence, Never give up, ever!

Aymee aka Cookiepreneur

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