As food industry professionals, we have seen our fair share of food safety fails. While some of them are amusing, most of them are downright yucky. From cross-contamination to improper temperature control, these mistakes can lead to serious health risks for customers and a bad name for the business. In this article, we will discuss the importance of food safety, common mistakes in restaurants, and how to prevent them.
The importance of food safety in the food industry
Food safety is of utmost importance in the food industry. It is not just about avoiding lawsuits or fines, but about ensuring the health and safety of customers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year, one in six Americans gets sick from foodborne illnesses, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. These illnesses can be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, and chemicals in food.
When working in the food industry, we have a responsibility to ensure that the food we serve is safe for consumption. This means following proper food handling, preparation, and storage techniques, as well as adhering to food safety regulations and guidelines.
Common food safety mistakes in restaurants and food establishments
Despite the importance of food safety, many restaurants and food establishments make common mistakes that can lead to foodborne illnesses.
These mistakes include:
Cross-contamination occurs when harmful bacteria from one food item are transferred to another food item, either directly or indirectly. This can happen when raw meat comes into contact with ready-to-eat foods, or when utensils and surfaces are not properly sanitized.
Improper temperature control
Foodborne bacteria can grow rapidly in the temperature danger zone (41°F to 135°F). Improper temperature control can occur when food is not cooked or reheated to the proper temperature, or when hot food is not kept hot and cold food is not kept cold.
Poor personal hygiene, such as not washing hands properly, can lead to the spread of harmful bacteria. Additionally, food handlers who are sick or have open wounds should not be handling food.
Food safety training and certification
To prevent these common food safety mistakes, food handlers and food managers should undergo proper food safety training and certification. Training can be done online or in person and covers topics such as proper food handling, temperature control, and personal hygiene.
Certification is often required by law and shows that the food handler has completed the necessary training and passed a certification exam. This demonstrates to customers and regulatory agencies that the establishment takes food safety seriously.
The benefits of hiring an online food safety company like Always Food Safe!
For establishments that want to ensure food safety but do not have the resources or time to train employees themselves, hiring an online food safety company can be a great option. Always Food Safe is a 100% online, video-based company that offers comprehensive food safety training and certification programs that are accepted nationwide by your health inspector.
The benefits of hiring an online food safety company include:
- Convenience: Employees can complete the training at their own pace, on their own time.
- Cost-effectiveness: Online training is often less expensive than in-person training.
- Customization: Training can be tailored to the specific needs of the establishment.
- Compliance: Online food safety companies keep up-to-date with food safety regulations and guidelines, ensuring that the establishment remains in compliance.
How to prevent food safety fails in your establishment
Preventing food safety fails in your establishment requires a commitment to proper food handling, preparation, and storage techniques. Here are some tips to help prevent food safety fails:
Train employees properly
Ensure that all employees undergo proper food safety training and certification. This should include training on proper food handling, temperature control, and personal hygiene.
Implement a food safety plan
Develop a food safety plan that outlines standard operating procedures for food handling, preparation, and storage. This should include procedures for cleaning and sanitizing utensils and surfaces, as well as procedures for handling food safely.
Monitor temperature control
Regularly monitor the temperature of food items to ensure that they are being stored and cooked at the proper temperature. Use thermometers to check the temperature of food items and keep a log of temperature readings.
Practice good personal hygiene
Encourage employees to practice good personal hygiene by washing their hands properly, wearing gloves when handling food, and staying home if they are sick or have open wounds.
Use proper storage techniques
Store food items in the correct temperature zones to prevent bacteria growth. Keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross-contamination.
Food safety regulations and guidelines
In addition to following proper food handling, preparation, and storage techniques, establishments must also adhere to food safety regulations and guidelines. These regulations and guidelines are set by federal, state, and local regulatory agencies and include:
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code
By following these regulations and guidelines, establishments can ensure that they are in compliance and minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses.
Case studies of food safety fails
To illustrate the importance of food safety and the consequences of food safety fails, let's look at some case studies:
In 2015, Chipotle Mexican Grill experienced an E. coli outbreak that sickened more than 50 people across 11 states. The outbreak was linked to contaminated produce and was attributed to poor food handling and preparation techniques.
Blue Bell Ice Cream
In 2015, Blue Bell Ice Cream had to recall all of its products due to an outbreak of listeria that was linked to three deaths. The outbreak was attributed to improper cleaning and sanitizing techniques.
Jack in the Box
In 1993, Jack in the Box experienced an E. coli outbreak that sickened more than 700 people and resulted in the deaths of four children. The outbreak was linked to undercooked beef and resulted in new food safety regulations and guidelines being put in place.
These case studies demonstrate the serious consequences of food safety failure and the importance of proper food handling, preparation, and storage techniques.
Tips for keeping your customers safe and happy
Keeping customers safe and happy requires a commitment to food safety and customer service. Here are some tips for achieving both:
Communicate with customers
Communicate with customers about your commitment to food safety and the steps you are taking to ensure their safety. This can be done through signage, social media, or in-person communication.
Listen to customer feedback
Listen to customer feedback and address any concerns they may have about food safety. This can help improve customer trust and loyalty.
Train employees on customer service
Train employees on customer service techniques, such as active listening and problem-solving. This can help ensure that customers are happy with their experience and are more likely to return.
Offer high-quality food
Offer high-quality food that is fresh, flavorful, and safe for consumption. This can help improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Food safety is of utmost importance in the food industry. By following proper food handling, preparation, and storage techniques, adhering to food safety regulations and guidelines, and hiring an online food safety company for training and certification, establishments can ensure the safety and satisfaction of their customers. Remember to communicate with customers, listen to feedback, train employees on customer service, and offer high-quality food to keep customers safe and happy.