It is now more critical than ever for businesses in the hospitality industry to develop, implement and maintain a good record of food safety checklists, ensuring that the best practices are implemented across the breadth of restaurants and eateries of all kinds.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 48 million people in the United States are infected by foodborne illnesses per year. Of those, 128,000 people end up hospitalized, and approximately 3,000 passed away.
To ensure that food is prepared and served without any contamination, restaurants have to abide by specific standards, rules, and regulations to ensure the safety of their clientele.
Faced by various commercial and market-driven challenges, the foodservice industry is under immense pressure to maintain food safety standards, while also ensuring efficient operations and consistently exceptional customer experience.
In 2018, a popular US-based burrito eatery fell victim to a major food safety-related mishap. It was reported that nearly 700 people fell sick after eating at one of its Ohio restaurants. There were mass reports of diarrhea, fever, nausea, and food poisoning and the Delaware County Health District quickly took notice.
CDC investigated the incident, and it was found that the culprit was Clostridium perfringens - a type of bacteria that forms when food is improperly stored and left out at wrong temperatures.
As a result, that particular location was closed down voluntarily and lost millions of dollars in revenue while the stock price declined rapidly. The eatery’s reputation as a whole was severely damaged, and people dragged the brand through the mud on social media for months. It was a national debacle that garnered international attention.
All of that could have been avoided had the burrito hub implemented FDA’s Food Safety standards across all its branches.
FDA understands how businesses face many challenges and uncertainties daily. To help restaurants become more proactive and ensure food safety, they have designed a list of industry best practices to protect consumers and the business’s image.
Consumers can make or break a restaurant. If an establishment fails to meet expectations, the restaurant may lose patronage - or worse, the unsatisfied customer may leave a bad online review, thus tarnishing the overall image of the business.
Additionally, with growing awareness about food safety, end-users have developed many expectations from restaurants in terms of quality. Everything is taken into account from preparation to serving the food to the environment it is being served at.
The last thing your restaurant needs is a case of food-borne illnesses caused by Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, and E. coli - the health risks can be as severe as brain damage, food poisoning, meningitis, arthritis, kidney failure or even death.
Restaurants are well aware of how dangerous these contaminations can be, and they must set in place practices and procedures to keep their guests safe from harm.
In April 2019 - Grant Park Packing in Illinois rightfully recalled 53000 pounds of ground beef due to the presence of E.coli. As expensive as that decision may have been, it was the right thing to do.
Remember, every restaurant is just one careless mistake away from an outbreak, or a foodborne incident, that could put its patrons at severe risk.
Those working in the hospitality industry - particularly restaurants - have a responsibility to ensure that everyone who handles food is aware of the correct practices. As such, all employees should be provided with the right training to keep food hygienic and safe.
Having a robust food safety management system is required by law in the foodservice business. Processes and procedures must be appropriately monitored and documented to provide proof of compliance with the most stringent standards.
Without adequate measures, such as standardized operations and increased accountability, you could put your customer’s health and well-being at risk. This not only harms your reputation but also makes your business vulnerable to potential lawsuits.
For instance, restaurants can be sued for health code violations and foodborne illnesses that may have resulted from eating at said restaurant. It should be noted that hundreds of restaurant owners are taken to court by customers because of food and drink-related diseases.
Then there are also the following issues that restaurants often have to deal with
Inspectors from local health departments carry out scheduled and random surveys to ensure that restaurants are following the proper code of conduct. These inspections may be carried out twice a year or if (and when) a customer complains.
Bad Customer Reviews
The world has gone digital - customers now have many platforms to talk about their experience, such as Yelp, Facebook, Google Business Listings, etc.
In short, any person with a phone becomes a food critic - and sometimes a harsh one - and they have the power to affect your restaurant’s sales.
To provide more insight, as per a study, 21% of Yelpers may not visit a restaurant because of a bad review.
Potential Law Suits
Lawsuits can cost a substantial amount of money, and they build a negative brand image in the minds of current and prospective customers.
Maintain food safety benchmarks and inform customers if their selected meals’ ingredients include items such as eggs, milk, peanuts, shellfish, wheat, tree nuts, and/or soybean - food items that may cause allergic reactions.
If a restaurant is caught indulging in behaviors that may cause harm to customers, the bad reviews could be the least of worries.
The business can face persecution in the form of hefty fines, restaurant closures, and even jail time for management if the standards aren’t met.
Perhaps that’s why, even after these issues are fixed, customers don’t return. It’s because the restaurant’s image and reputation have been damaged beyond repair.
For larger casual dining establishments, a single outbreak could potentially cost $6,330 to $2.1 million, depending on the severity of the epidemic.
If restaurants are negligent in handling, storing, preparing, and serving food, their quality will eventually suffer financially and may even have to close down the business for good.
A restaurant should adhere to proper food safety and health standards, as well as ensure staff members are following these guidelines without fail
- All equipment should be well maintained and kept clean
- Separate equipment and utensils should be used for raw items, i.e., meat and the final product
- Wash hands thoroughly before preparing food and when switching to cook something new
- Train your staff to avoid cross-contamination
- Discard expired food items
- Do not buy items that are nearing expiry or have expired
- Frozen food should always be stored at a specific temperature; ensure that it is also delivered in a freezer
- Ensure that your refrigerator is running on the correct temperature
- Make sure that the staff involved in cooking and handling food always wear gloves and hairnets
Technological innovations have presented us with many opportunities to be more efficient and increase productivity levels. As per a study, 95% of restaurant owners believe that technology makes restaurants more profitable.
The foodservice industry is badgered with daily challenges such as staffing and handling daily orders - which diverts focus from important fronts like food safety and proper sanitation.
If restaurants adopt new technological innovations, foodborne illness and health code violations can be reduced to almost none.
Understandably, a busy employee may have a lot on his plate, but software or apps have no such excuses, which is why all tech-reliant inspections are highly accurate.
Many businesses in the food industry are still reluctant to make the shift from their conventional pen and paper ways, as they feel the move may be costly, or perhaps, they are not yet ready to walk out of their comfort zone.
The fact remains that embracing technology can save businesses time and money, while also ensuring accurate data.
New apps and software can ascertain that there are no lapses in food quality and food safety by protecting food from being contaminated, handling food storage properly, and keeping the restaurant clean and hygienic.
Eateries need a user-friendly solution to maintain and manage safety standards across all their operations. These safety standards are to be followed in-depth by owners, as well as their staff.
Plus, a strict code of conduct needs to be guaranteed by properly monitoring all day-to-day proceedings and taking instant action when a problem arises.
The majority of restaurant employees are relatively young, and they are well-versed in using smartphones and can quickly adapt to any technological changes.
Restaurants can provide these employees with the tools to make them more efficient and to encourage teamwork. With a handheld device, they can record temperature readings, access FDA regulations for proper food safety, record if all equipment is sanitized, etc.
All this and much more can be done with a well-designed app dedicated to making ensuring smooth operations.
One way to ensure that you are following all the safety guidelines is to use a food safety & task management application like Zip HACCP.
The app is Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) compliant and provides a one-stop solution for you to maintain and manage your restaurant by adhering to industry best practices.
With Zip HACCP, you can monitor whether your employees are cooking and storing food on the required temperature through real-time alerts and notifications via Bluetooth.
For instance, the temperature is continuously monitored, and as soon as there is a lapse, a push notification is sent.
Zip HACCP guarantees that all quality control and food safety benchmarks are being crosschecked, and employees are held accountable for the tasks they carry out.
Here are some of the benefits of Zip HACCP
Food Safety Audit Checklists
Restaurant owners can make and update standard operation procedures (SOP) and checklists to keep their employees informed of the current health and safety guidelines.
With a cloud-based file uploader, you can add more details to your tasks and SOPs with pictures and videos. Even better, all updates are automatically synced, so you can quickly check up on chores, request immediate changes in case of a potential food safety violation, and make decisions based on real-time data.
While formal training is mandatory for employees, you can ensure that they never forget food safety with the help of integrated temperature solutions, necessary corrective action, and hazard control checklists.
Additionally, with a Bluetooth temperature monitor, you can effectively keep a check on the temperature while also holding your employees accountable.
Do you have a large franchise - or even two different setups - and find it difficult to monitor everything? Well, Zip HACCP integrates real-time monitoring so you can easily manage multiple locations directly from the app.
The best way to deliver quality food day in, day out is to monitor your storage; with this app, you can be sure that all your food items are safe to consume.
Overall, your best bet at following and maintaining food safety standards without fail is by integrating the latest tech into your operations. Not only will this allow you to meet and abide by the rules and regulations set by HACCP, but it will also make your workforce more efficient and enhance their productivity.
Learn more about our app and fill in the form to start a free trial.