Wednesday, November 29, 2017

How to Establish a Food Safety Culture in Your Restaurant

By Francine Shaw  |   Published by

The food service industry was shaken when restaurant chain Chipotle had multiple, widespread food safety outbreaks, spanning various states. The incidents understandably made consumers anxious and, as a result, Chipotle’s sales plummeted.  It took considerable time and effort to reassure a nervous public that it was, indeed, safe to eat at Chipotle again.
Their tagline, food with integrity, was meaningless when various mistakes were sickening their guests. During (and after) these outbreaks, Chipotle had to review its protocols. Among other things, they sanitized impacted restaurants, examined their food sources, and reminded employees of safety protocols—like not to come to work when ill.
All restaurants should create and implement a food safety culture that emphasizes safety, cleanliness and following well-established protocols. Ensure that your food safety culture that starts at the top, with buy-in from leadership. Demonstrate that food safety is a priority that must be taken seriously by every employee, during every shift, and with every meal. By emphasizing the importance of food safety, your employees will work continuously toward the mission that you’ve implemented.

Every restaurant experiences kitchen chaos—it’s the nature of the industry. Busy shifts mean some employees may take occasional “short-cuts." In my role as a food safety trainer and inspector, I often see examples of this—such as employees not washing their hands regularly because they “don’t want to walk all the way across the kitchen” to the handwashing sink. Or they use the same board to cut raw poultry and then ready-to-eat foods like salad greens, cross-contaminating the vegetables with dangerous bacteria. Perhaps they don’t bother using a food thermometer to check the internal temperatures of the hamburgers they’re grilling and, as a result, serve undercooked meat. Any of these decisions could result in a foodborne illness incident, potentially harming (or even killing) your guests.
Major foodborne illness incidents and outbreaks seem to be increasing. Even innocent or careless mistakes can sicken guests and ruin a restaurant’s reputation. Foodborne illnesses are 100 percent preventable and could be avoided if restaurants—and other food service organizations—adopted a food safety culture.  This includes providing ongoing education/training, regularly holding inspections, and implementing proper food safety protocols. Ensure that you’re operating safelyfor every shift, with every meal.
To create and maintain a food safety culture, your restaurant should:
Start at the top. Ensure that your company leaders are practicing what they preach, and setting a good example for employees to follow. Demonstrate a strong commitment to food safety, and emphasize that anything less than 100 percent effort simply won’t be tolerated.
Explain the reasons behind the rules. Don’t just tell employees what to do. Tell them why to do it. Explain rules around food safety, such as why they shouldn’t use the same platter for raw meat and cooked meat. Explain the danger of using the same board to prepare seafood for one dish and poultry for another—which could be deadly if that poultry is served to a guest with seafood allergies. When you explain why it’s so important to follow each specific protocol, your employees will understand the reasoning behind the rules and will be more likely (and more willing) to comply.
Train your staff. Food safety training and education should be an ongoing effort for all employees, whether they’ve been with your organization for two hours or two decades. Emphasize why food safety is—and will continue to be—a priority for your organization. Provide continuous updates and refresher courses for all staff to keep the food safety protocols top-of-mind.
Provide the proper equipment. Stock your commercial kitchen with the necessary tools to safely prepare and serve food. Ensure there are calibrated food thermometers at every workstation so employees can easily (and regularly) check food temperatures.  Provide plenty of cutting boards so employees can use some of the raw proteins, others for ready-to-eat foods, separate ones for allergy-friendly food prep, etc.
Keep temperature logs. Insist that employees take the temperature of foods at specific times—e.g., upon arrival, during the cooking process, etc. Make proper record-keeping part of your employees’ regular routine.
Inspect food to make sure it’s safe upon arrival. If food isn’t safe when it arrives at your facility, there’s nothing your team can do to make it safe later. Empower employees to refuse potentially unsafe foods.
Conduct inspections to ensure that all employees are complying with proper protocols. Conduct self-inspections regularly to ensure kitchens are sanitary, food safety rules are being followed, and mistakes aren’t being made. It’s also valuable to hire third-party inspectors to examine your facility and observe your employees in action. An objective outsider often sees things that internal teams may overlook. Their feedback can be hugely beneficial in helping avoid foodborne illnesses, infractions from the health department, and other potential issues.
Avoid careless mistakes. Remind all employees that even seemingly “minor” mistakes could sicken (or even kill) guests. For instance, they shouldn’t use the same towel to wipe the dirty floor and then wash the tables. Insist that they wash their hands carefully and often. Don’t allow them to wear their kitchen aprons to the restroom.
Follow food allergy protocols. When preparing and serving food for a food-allergic guest, make sure your employees double check ingredients, use clean gloves/knives/equipment, prep the food in an allergy-friendly area, and avoid careless (potentially harmful) mistakes, such as garnishing a plate with pesto when serving a nut or dairy-allergic guest.
Building, enforcing, promoting and embracing a food safety culture doesn’t need to be expensive, time-consuming or complicated. By creating a corporate culture focused on food safety, you’ll keep your employees, guests, and business much safer and healthier.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Would Your Team Know How to Handle a Crisis?

By Francine L. Shaw

Sadly, there have been a variety of tragic food safety crises in the restaurant industry.

In 1993, an E. coli outbreak at Jack in the Box infected 732 people. Four children died and 178 other victims were left with permanent injuries, including kidney and brain damage. Chipotle has had an unprecedented run of foodborne illness outbreaks beginning in 2015. And there have been a number of food product recalls that have sickened many and negatively impacted the companies involved.

A crisis isn’t necessarily a foodborne illness. Think about other unexpected crises that could impact your restaurant, staff, and guests: hurricanes, like the horrific ones we’ve experienced lately, or other natural disasters. What if there’s a robbery, a customer chokes and dies at your restaurant, there’s an unexpected power outage or a shooting at your venue? Yes, unfortunately, these are all real possibilities.

If a crisis were to occur at your restaurant, would your team know what to do? The overwhelming majority of your employees are going to panic and forget everything they’ve ever been told, which is normal. Therefore, it is important to be prepared for every type of crisis imaginable – before anything bad actually happens.

When you’re developing your plan, here are some things to consider and implement:
Form a crisis management team. Assess which roles need to be part of the crisis management team and what the responsibilities need to be. Document roles and responsibilities. The team should consist of a corporate attorney, company leadership, food safety team, crisis management consultant, a trained media spokesperson and applicable government agencies.

Know how your local health department operates. The role of the local health department varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so get to know your local inspectors. Don’t be afraid to work with your regulatory agencies, they want to help.

Know whether you’re one of 20 states that have emergency response teams funded by the FDA. What do you do if you’re not one of them and disaster strikes?

Create honest, authentic and apologetic messaging. This will, of course, need to be developed to meet the specifics of your situation. Regardless of what happened, you’ll need to honestly describe the situation and explain the solutions-focused plan you’ve created to move forward. Transparency is important, otherwise, the general public will lose confidence and trust.

Work with the media to disseminate information about the incident. The media want to report what has happened, and it’s in your best interest to be straightforward with them. If there was a breakdown in your process, identify it, whether you received tainted merchandise from a vendor or experienced an error in the kitchen. Explain the concrete steps you’re taking to fix it and prevent a reoccurrence (e.g., selecting different vendors, re-training your staff, adjusting your food allergy protocols, etc.).

Train (or re-train) your staff on food safety protocols. Be certain that everyone is knowledgeable about food safety (e.g., how to prevent cross-contamination, how to properly prepare allergy-friendly meals, etc.) to avoid similar crisis situations in the future.

Use social media wisely. Monitor social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and respond to negative and/or erroneous comments. Messages on social media (as well as in real life) should always be positive, professional and honest. Don’t get defensive and don’t allow yourself to get sucked into toxic, negative message spirals.

Communicate with your customers and employees to win back their trust. Be honest, sincere and apologetic. Explain how/why their loyalty is so important to you, and vow to earn their trust again.

Change vendors, if necessary. Did a vendor mislabel ingredients, causing an allergic reaction in one of your guests? Did they source tainted products and sell them to you? Change vendors, and be clear in your communications (to media, via social media platforms, etc.) that you identified the vendor as the source of the problem, explaining that you’ve cut ties to them to eliminate similar events in the future.

Thank the responders that helped.
Perhaps your crisis wasn’t a foodborne illness – it was a customer dying of natural causes, a bomb threat or an electrical fire at your restaurant. Use the media and social media platforms to thank the police, fire department, paramedics – whichever responders helped defuse the situation.

Designate a media spokesperson. When facing a serious crisis, your restaurant’s CEO/owner/president should be the spokesperson. The public wants the head of the company to speak authoritatively about the incident and the concrete plans to resolve the problem. Practice your messages before going in front of the cameras, anticipate the most challenging questions you may receive, and determine how you’ll respond professionally, politely and non-defensively.

Stay calm. While it’s upsetting (and terrifying!) to be in a crisis situation, remain calm as you work to recover from the incident. Follow your crisis plan and communicate your key messages. Make certain that important audiences (including customers, prospects, employees, the media, vendors, health inspectors, etc.) recognize how hard you’re working to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Debrief after the crisis is over. Get the crisis management team together and debrief. Review your plan and see if there is any room for improvement for future preparedness.

There’s an old adage: fail to prepare and prepare to fail. This is true in a crisis situation. Prepare before anything bad happens, so your team is well-equipped. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use this plan, but it’s smart to have it – just in case.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Watch Temperature Abuse & Be Recognized as a Leader in the Industry

By Francine L. Shaw

This is part four of a four-part series on building a food safety culture in your establishment by Francine L. Shaw, president, Food Safety Training Solutions, Inc.

Creating a food safety culture is the responsibility of the entire team. Creating, facilitating and installing food safety policies throughout the entire company is a responsibility that does not lie with one person.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from eating contaminated food every year. Foodborne illness is common, costly and 100% preventable!

Temperature abuse is a major factor contributing to foodborne illness. Monitoring temperature during food processing, distribution, and storage is an easy, effective means to reduce the occurrence of foodborne disease. In fact, two of the top five risk factors responsible for causing foodborne illness, as reported by the CDC, involve temperature control. Those risk factors are improper hot/cold holding temperatures of potentially hazardous food and improper cooking temperatures of food.

Make sure all employees understand that time and temperature control are important aspects of building a food safety culture. The temperature range in which foodborne bacteria can grow is known as the danger zone. Another critical role in food safety is time and temperature control. The amount of time that food spends in the temperature danger zone must be minimized to prevent time-temperature abuse.

Holding time/temperature control for safety (TCS) foods (TCS food is food that requires time and temperature control for safety) at proper temperatures is important because it minimizes the growth of any pathogenic bacteria that might be present in the food. TCS foods at improper temperatures may allow pathogenic bacteria to reproduce rapidly to large numbers, putting someone who eats that food at extreme risk for foodborne illness.

TCS foods that are going to be held at cold temperatures (i.e., refrigerated) must be held at a temperature of 41°F or below. It is important that the temperature of the food itself always be at 41°F or below. Foods in a cooler that read 40°F in the morning before the restaurant opens may rise above 41°F during rush periods when the cooler door is constantly opening and closing.

TCS foods that are going to be held at hot temperatures must be held at a temperature of 135°F or above.

The temperature range between 41°F and 135°F is called the danger zone. Food facility operators must minimize the amount of time that TCS foods spend in the danger zone.

This applies to the cooling and reheating of TCS foods as well. When cooling hot foods for later use, they must be cooled quickly. This means that the temperature must be reduced from 135°F to 70°F within two hours, and then from 70°F to 41°F within four additional hours. At the end of six hours, the food must be at or below 41°F.

When reheating cold foods to hot, they must be rapidly reheated. TCS foods must be reheated to 165°F within two hours before being placed in a hot holding unit.

A company’s food safety culture is composed of many different segments. You must not only talk the talk but walk the walk. Leading by example is imperative, as is good training and follow-up. Don’t just say your business has a food safety culture, understand the value of that culture. Make certain that food safety policies and procedures are established, correctly followed and ingrained as part of your corporate culture. Do your part to help your company be recognized as the leader in the industry.

Shared values are the foundation for a culture of food safety

By Francine L. Shaw

To create a food safety culture in any organization, there first must be understanding of what this means.

I frequently discuss the importance of having a food safety culture with operators of a variety types of companies, and they all tell me the same thing: “my company has a great food safety culture.” But when I ask what that means, their answers are not as confident.

So, how do you build a good food safety culture and make sure your employees embrace it? Understanding the value of food safety is where it begins. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 6 Americans contract a foodborne illness each year.

When food safety policies and procedures are created, correctly implemented, and instilled as part of a business culture, mistakes that can lead to foodborne illnesses are significantly reduced.

As a result, in addition to boosting food safety, profit increases, employee morale soars, employee turnover is reduced, absenteeism is minimized, and the company’s reputation remains secure. If food safety is neglected, food contamination can cause outbreaks, which not only critically damage a company’s reputation, but can also result in criminal negligence lawsuits and bankruptcy.

A food safety program that works for one organization may not work for another. It is necessary to find what works best for each organization, and then be committed to continuously reviewing the processes, evaluating them based on feedback and measurable results from team members and, when necessary, making changes.

If possible, company leaders should create a food safety team to collect data that can be used to analyze results. Use key performance indicators to study what is happening within your company – this is how you will determine what, where, and when changes need to be made.

Using feedback and data, a culture of food safety can be built on a set of shared values that management and employees follow to produce food in the safest manner. Establishing and maintaining a food safety culture means that management and employees recognize the risks linked with the products or meals they produce, understand why controlling the risks is important, and successfully manage those risks in an evident way.

In an organization with a good food safety culture, employees are expected to enact practices that represent the shared value system and point out where others may fail. By using a variety of tools, consequences and incentives, corporations can show their staff and customers that they are aware of current food safety concerns, that they can learn from others’ mistakes, and that food safety is important to their organization.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were eating at a restaurant that is part of a large organization. I am certain this company would say they have a good food safety culture. Yet as we were eating in the dining room, I observed the cook eating food and drinking a beverage with her single-use gloves on while preparing food for customers. She didn’t wash her hands or change her gloves the entire time we were there!

Such behavior has the potential to cause a foodborne illness outbreak. Clearly, somewhere in the company, there was a breakdown in the value system, and this employee wasn’t following proper food safety protocols.

While there are many exceptional operations that have great food safety cultures, I have walked into establishments on many occasions to conduct health inspections or third-party inspections only to see employees and management tripping over each other to fill buckets of sanitizer, put on aprons, date product, etc., because they knew an inspector was in the building.

Building a food safety culture involves activities that go beyond grabbing a broom and sweeping up dirt.

When I see employees scrambling to “catch up” on the food safety protocols because I’m visiting and inspecting their facility, I know – and they know – that they have been neglecting tasks that they should have been doing on a regular basis. Witnessing them scramble indicates that these people do not take food safety seriously. In a company with a good food safety culture, the standards are the same every day, regardless of whether there is an executive or a health inspector visits. Because the health of your customers and the reputation of your company are, ultimately, your biggest concerns.

As you are creating and implementing your food safety plan, some important items to remember are:

make training fun
lead by example
explain why
use job aids

Creating a food safety culture takes more than discussing it at an occasional staff meeting or industry conference. It takes commitment to every level of management and staff, every second of every day. And when you have that level of commitment, employees will be more inclined to take their jobs seriously and less likely to take chances that put the company at risk.

I’m too Busy to Wash my Hands!

By Francine L. Shaw

This is part two of a four-part series on building a food safety culture in your establishment by Francine L. Shaw, president, Food Safety Training Solutions, Inc.
Several years ago, I walked into a kitchen to conduct an audit. The head chef had five pairs of single-use gloves layered on his hands. When I questioned his behavior, he pointed to the sink and stated, “Ma’am, the sink is way over there. I don’t have time to walk that far every time I need to wash my hands!”
I couldn’t believe it. I’m sad to say that I’ve actually seen many people—including professionally trained kitchen staff—practice this erroneous behavior.
Oftentimes during kitchen inspections, trainings and audits, I tell foodservice employees to change their single-use gloves and wash their hands. I also explain that single-use gloves are only effective when used properly: one pair at a time, with proper handwashing each time they’re changed.
I’ve witnessed restaurant employees wear and not change their single-use gloves when opening cooler doors, checking cellphones, touching their hair or face, handling money, or touching other objects, such as doorknobs, menus, garbage bags, etc. These are all examples of classic cross-contamination, yet they happen daily because employees either don’t realize the danger or don’t feel they have time to wash their hands.
Handwashing with soap stops the spread of disease and can save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention. Each year, 19 million people get food poisoning due to improper handwashing. Improper handwashing can lead to each of the Big 6 Foodborne Illnesses:
  1. Hepatitis A virus
  2. Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC)
  3. Norovirus
  4. Salmonella Typhi
  5. Salmonella Non-Typhoidal (NTS)
  6. Shigella
Not to mention Staphylococcus aureus and more. Again, simple mistakes like a lack of handwashing or improper use of single-use gloves can sicken or even kill your guests and potentially destroy your brand.
Everyone assumes tragedies happen to the other guy. Well, what if the other guy is you? A foodborne illness or outbreak can destroy your company’s reputation, result in lawsuits and potentially put you out of business.
Norovirus is the most common foodborne illness. It affects 1 in 15 people (approximately 20 million Americans) and causes 570 to 800 deaths annually. Norovirus is 100% preventable. On average, each of us gets Norovirus five times during our lifetime, leading to horrible gastrointestinal distress. If an employee neglects to wash their hands after using the restroom, one gram of fecal matter on the hands can host 1,000,000,000,000 germs! Norovirus is highly contagious and easily spreadable from dirty hands to food and other surfaces. Therefore, norovirus is a huge threat within the food service industry.
Several recent studies indicate that employees come to work even when they’re sick and 70% of infected workers cause about 70% of reported norovirus outbreaks. It takes as few as 18 norovirus cells to cause illness and there is no cure. Hand sanitizers do not prevent norovirus. The only way to prevent norovirus is to wash your hands regularly and properly.
Norovirus can persist for days and even weeks on surfaces. Cold, moist conditions help it survive even longer. On hard surfaces, such as faucets, counters and door handles, the virus can survive up to 12 hours. On soft surfaces, such as carpet, norovirus can thrive up to 12 days. Some studies say the virus can persist even longer.
To help prevent norovirus, don’t allow employees to work while they are vomiting or have diarrhea, and then not for at least 24 hours after these symptoms stop.
Follow these steps to reduce the risk of any outbreak:
  1. Wash hands with soap and hot water (a minimum of 100 degrees);
  2. Apply soap;
  3. Scrub hands well, including in between fingers and under fingernails;
  4. Rinse under clean running water;
  5. Dry with clean, single-use towel;
  6. Turn faucet off with towel;
  7. Use towel to open door;
  8. Wash hands again when you return to your work station; and
  9. Implement a double handwashing policy. Wash your hands once in the restroom and again when returning to the work station.
Make sure good hygiene is part of your food safety culture. Proper and regular handwashing can significantly help prevent food safety incidents and outbreaks, so make sure that your employees are washing their hands!

The Importance of Food Safety Training

By Francine L. Shaw

This is part three of a four-part series on building a food safety culture in your establishment by Francine L. Shaw, president, Food Safety Training Solutions, Inc.
While attending a recent food safety conference, an attendee said something that really hit home for me: “We don’t provide food safety training, we provide food safety education.” She explained further, “Do you want your children to receive sex training or sex education?” BINGO! She’s right.
As foodservice professionals, we train our teams on many aspects of the foodservice business and that must include food safety education. We provide employees with knowledge about food safety protocols and procedures so they can perform their jobs correctly and safely, and so that our guests will remain safe and healthy. dsc_0174_32717325330_o
Why is food safety education and training important?
If food safety is neglected, the risk of food contamination increases, which can cause foodborne illness outbreaks. Foodborne illnesses can critically damage a company’s reputation and result in criminal negligence, loss of sales/profits, scathing media coverage and even bankruptcy. Food safety education and training is a win-win situation, protecting both the guests and the company.
Educating and training employees involves some expense, but the return on investment is immense. If your company has a well-established food safety culture, employees are more likely to follow company policies and procedures correctly. As a result, mistakes significantly decrease, profitability is amplified, employee morale is boosted, employee turnover and absenteeism is reduced, and the company’s reputation remains secure.
Many times, food safety lapses occur when new employees are not properly trained or during a change in company policy. Training also gets neglected when finances are tight or things get busy. Create a system to prevent these lapses!
While we want to think that our employees do things correctly all the time, in reality, they do not. Before becoming a food safety professional, I spent over 20 years in the foodservice industry. I had a great team, yet I sometimes caught my wonderful employees taking short cuts. They were well-trained, we did well on our internal inspections, health inspections, third-party audits, etc., but one of those short cuts could have made someone sick. acf_12331-31-161620
Educate Employees on the Why
Often, employees aren’t educated about whythings are important. Perhaps they don’t understand why it’s important to wash their hands often and well, why poultry must be cooked to 165°F, why raw proteins should be stored on the bottom shelves in the coolers, etc. Understanding why these things are critical helped me (and my employees) follow the rules more closely. If employees understand that juices from raw poultry could drip onto ready-to-eat foods such as vegetables and contaminate them, they’ll be more likely to follow the rules versus if their manager told them to store poultry on the lower shelves without offering an explanation about why this behavior is important. When training, it’s always important to explain the “why” factor.
When developing a training program, there are many things to consider:
  • Determine whether your current program is effective.
  • Remember that various levels of management require different training, but all levels should be educated in food safety.
  • Determine which training certification program will be best for your restaurant.
  • Determine who will be certified?
  • Will classroom or online training be best for your team? (I recommend that the initial training is done in a classroom environment.)
  • How frequently should your team be trained? (Regular, ongoing training is best.)
  • Would your team benefit from a food handler program?
  • Would incorporating company-specific information be beneficial?
  • Who will deliver the training?
Other training tips include:
  • Incorporate visual aids for participants who may be visual learners.
  • Include participatory exercises to help make the materials and lessons more memorable.
  • Use consistent terminology throughout the program.
  • Ensure that managers serve as role models. Employees will emulate their leaders, so they should lead by example.
  • Make it known that senior management was involved in the training development process and they expect all employees to embrace and follow the program.
A good food safety training program will be at the core of your food safety culture. The health and safety of your employees and guests depend on the food safety training and education that you provide, so make this a priority no matter how busy you are.

Friday, September 8, 2017

What is Food Safety?

By Francine L. Shaw
This is part one of a four-part series on building a food safety culture in your establishment by Francine L. Shaw, president, Food Safety Training Solutions, Inc.
Many operators tell me that they have established a food safety culture, but when I ask what that means, they struggle to give me a confident answer. So how do you build an effective food safety culture? During the next four weeks, I will give you key answers to this question.
Food safety begins with understanding the importance of this issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 6 Americans gets a foodborne illness every year. When food safety policies and procedures are established, correctly followed and prioritized as part of a food service company’s corporate culture, mistakes are significantly reduced, profitability is increased, employee morale is amplified, employee turnover is lower, absenteeism is lessened and the company’s reputation remains secure.
If food safety is neglected, the risk of food contamination can cause foodborne illness outbreaks, which can not only critically damage a company’s reputation, but can also result in criminal negligence, expensive lawsuits and can even cause a company to go into bankruptcy.
A company’s culture is multifaceted. It’s about shared group values, attitude competencies, goals and patterns of behavior that embody a corporation. Building a corporate culture takes time and effort. Company leaders must have a desire to incorporate food safety into their culture and must be willing to invest in resources, think strategically and assess the organization honestly when leading a culture change. Senior leadership must be willing to be a positive reinforcement in the cultural change (“walk the walk”).
While it’s important to do well on health inspections, meet regulatory requirements and pass third-party audits and internal inspections, establishing a food safety culture surpasses these things. It involves a commitment to continually operate in a safe manner, being proactive at eliminating hazards, training and educating employees, establishing clear and consistent food safety protocols, and protecting guests and the business–every day, with every component of every meal.

Each restaurant’s needs are going to be a bit different, and what works for one may not work for another. But everyone’s goal is the same–keep guests safe. To make this happen, management must implement a food safety management system, which will consist of food safety programs, procedures, and measures that actively control risks and hazards through the flow of food.
Active managerial control, an example of a food management system, is a proactive approach to food safety and utilized by many companies nationwide. This system includes having a certified food protection manager on staff, defining standard operating procedures for critical steps, and monitoring effectiveness along the way.
These principals can also be applied to Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), a system based on the idea that significant biological, chemical, or physical hazards can be prevented, eliminated or reduced if they’re identified at specific points within the products’ flow through the operation. The success of a HACCP plan depends on educating and training all levels of the organization, and emphasizing the importance of employees’ roles in producing safe foods, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
I was working with an organization whose senior leadership insisted, “We’re doing HACCP,” yet the employees were not properly trained in basic procedures, the company was using outdated training materials and their temperature logs were not correct! It’s imperative that food service leaders understand food safety and its importance. If you’re going to attempt to implement a HACCP plan, you must understand it and know how to do so, otherwise, it’s of no value to your business.
After you’ve decided what food safety system you’re going to implement, your procedures should be monitored and constantly re-evaluated. As you’re creating and implementing your plan some important items to remember are:
  • Make training fun
  • Lead by example
  • Explain why
  • Follow up
  • Use job aids
As we continue this four-part series, I’ll be focusing the 2017 National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) campaign theme “The Culture of Food Safety.” We have seen some unbelievable food safety issues occur over the past few years. Most notably is Chipotle, which is recovering from yet another norovirus occurrence after an unprecedented run of foodborne illness outbreaks in 2015. To prevent these occurrences, we must all create a food safety culture within our work environments.