Especially in a post-COVID economy, restaurants must comply with an ever-increasing microscope. While employees know they play a crucial role in food (and ultimately guest) safety, when a 45-minute wait forces everyone to rush, things learned in food safety training can quickly fall to back-of-mind to an undisciplined staff.
Now take that single store’s lapse in food safety protocol – something that could happen during any busy dinner rush – and multiply it by dozens or even hundreds of units.
While food safety oversight may seem more challenging the more an organization grows, a multi-unit restaurant group should have the resources and budget at its disposal to create an effective food safety culture scalable across all locations.
Creating a Compliance-Focused Culture
How do you make your food safety training scalable? You make it part of your company’s culture. Leadership must ingrain food safety practices into daily operations and keep them top-of-mind so every employee has to continuously think about them. When you infuse food safety into your culture, it can’t be forgotten. It becomes another part of the workplace identity.
The Key Pillars of an Effective Food Safety Culture
Mitigating the risk of foodborne illness in a growing and franchised business requires a solid and evolving training program, transparent communications, and verified electronic documentation of your food safety procedures.
Food safety and compliance start with education. Take-home guides and rushed training periods don’t fully benefit your workers in an increasingly complex supply chain. Managers need to keep track of employees’ training certifications, whether company-based or official state licenses. When training or license expiration nears, remind and incentivize employees to get recertified.
Failure to keep up with certifications is too costly to not prioritize. Lapsed certifications can leave your organization extra vulnerable to crippling fines and lawsuits — the average cost of a single foodborne illness outbreak can leave restaurants on the hook for as much as $2.6 million.
Don’t leave the understanding of your food safety program to hearsay — if your employees are unaware of your food safety culture, it’s impossible to implement properly. A documented understanding of your program is the first step in food safety becoming a part of your company culture.
Regular training exercises that supplement official compliance training further demonstrate the importance of food safety and ensure your team is on the same page. These less formal sessions can answer employee questions and concerns or reinforce critical concepts. Especially with local and federal governments periodically bolstering compliance requirements, teams need to constantly communicate updates in corporate food safety standards.
The result: a more confident and efficient team less likely to make mistakes or take shortcuts when the dinner rush streams in.
Provide clear expectations of what you need from your team. Build accountability into your line checks and food safety programs. Establish site-specific rules when needed. When you can easily review time-stamped daily activities, like follow-up actions on out-of-tolerance temperature readings, your managers have peace of mind, while your employees have easy-to-follow procedures. Learn how brands can standardize tasks and accountability here.
When your food safety culture is integrated with your technology, it’s truly possible to establish supply chain transparency. Consider systems that integrate thermometer readings with cooling and warming equipment to track temperature readings. Mobile alerts issue quick notifications of possible problems that limit food safety concerns and potential product loss.
Create an environment and culture where food safety is an integral part of everyone’s duties and the overall guest experience. Hospitality is at the heart of the restaurant business, and that all starts with the safety and well-being of your guests.