FDA Recommends Food Safety Staff for Restaurants; Gras Takes Leave from L2O


Perhaps to head off the number of food-borne illness cases reported each year in the country, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently recommended that every restaurant add a food safety manager to their staff. According to the article in Nation’s Restaurant News, the announcement came on the heels of the release of a 10-year study on “retail food risk factors”. With support from the National Restaurant Association and the National Council of Chain Restaurants, the move would hope to ensure “higher compliance levels with food safety practices.”

“In looking at the data, it is quite clear that having a certified food protection manager on the job makes a difference,” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods. “Some states and localities require certified food protection managers already, and many in the retail industry employ them voluntarily as a matter of good practice. We think it should become common practice.”

The recommendation will also be added to a future edition of the federal “FDA Model Food Code,” according to Donald Kraemer, acting deputy director of operations for the FDA.

While I’m sure on-site safety staff would aid in regulating food safety, I can’t help but wonder if it’s the FDA’s way of shuffling off the responsibility of regulating food safety practices on a government level. Will it be something that independent restaurants voluntarily implement in order to ensure the safety of their patrons?

Surprising news out of Chicago last week when Time Out Chicago posted that chef Laurent Gras had taken leave from his popular L2O. According to the article, Gras spoke with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises chairman Rich Melman recently about taking time off due to “personal stuff.” While Melman was confident that Gras would only be out temporarily, he admitted that it was very much up in the air.

“To be honest, I don’t know if he’s going to take a month off…or if he’s never going to come back. I don’t know,” says Melman. But he stresses that his relationship with Gras is solid, and that Gras’s reasons for leaving were purely personal. “My relationship with him is terrific,” he asserts.

Given that Gras normally leads the kitchen at L2O, shifts will be covered in his absence by his chef de cuisine Francis Brennan along with chefs Doug Psaltis and Jeff Mahin.

~Jennifer Heigl