The focus on food safety throughout the country’s food supply chain is at an all-time high. Between the health problems of consumers caused by the ingestion of unsafe products and the epidemic of diseases impacting the food supply, it is imperative that operators continue to focus on protecting life and health. health of their guests. In short, in today’s operating environment, restaurateurs simply need to use food products and supplies from credible sources.
According to a June 2016 article in Economy in crisis, 15 to 20 percent of the US food supply comes from overseas, of which two-thirds of our fruits and vegetables. While the Food Safety Modernization Act – passed by Congress in January 2011 – included provisions to improve the quality and safety of food products imported and supplied into the country, recalls and foodborne illness are still occurring at an alarming rate today due to contaminated food. purchased both in grocery stores and restaurants.
For example, General Mills recently recalled 45 million pounds of flour, while the USDA recalled 8,000 pounds of beef from a farm in New Hampshire. To prove the prevalence of contaminated and otherwise problematic foods in circulation today, you don’t need to look any further than the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, which contains an ongoing list of recalls and status alerts related to the issue.
These outbreaks occur for many reasons, ranging from inappropriate temperatures and food handling procedures to unknowingly introducing diseased animal products into the food chain. In most cases, the disease is not discovered until someone becomes ill.
The last thing a farmer, restaurant owner, or supplier wants to do is become the title of a story highlighting one of these epidemics. Here’s what restaurant owners can do to protect their brand even in an outbreak:
Step 1. Put in place a food safety plan.
That plan should start with the original producer of the product a restaurant uses, and then filter through all areas of the operation, according to David Liesenfelt, CEO of Fresh Concepts. His company buys products for restaurants, and he said restaurant owners need to have a way to chart the path of their products as they navigate their way from farm to table.
Traceability is essential to protect your brand, as it allows restaurateurs to track the type of product used in a product removed from the location pantry, all the way back to the original grower. From this, the farmer or rancher can determine where exactly the product came from on their farm and when and by whom it was shipped.
2nd step.Use a reliable and credible supplier.
The best suppliers and manufacturers today use a third party audit system, and sometimes even a second third party, to ensure that food safety protocols are both in place and followed. These types of reliable and well-documented suppliers can make the difference between a disaster and a pleasure to a restaurant’s reputation, as they assure the restaurateur that their products are from safe and disease-free sources.
Step 3. Properly train employees:
A 2013 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection indicates that inadequate chicken prep and cooking practices are commonly reported by managers of 448 restaurants surveyed. In fact, 40 percent of managers at these restaurants said they don’t always assign specific cutting boards for use with raw meat. In the same study, 43 percent of managers said they did not know the correct temperature for cooking raw chicken.
While these poignant findings are derived from a 3-year-old study, the information still points to the enormous opportunity the food service offers for deeper and more detailed food safety education across the country. industry. In fact, continuing education in the proper handling of all raw food products, such as eggs, fruits, and vegetables, is an assurance measure savvy restaurateurs are likely to put in place throughout their operations.