Post written by: Renee Ogrizek
Do you think about where the food in a restaurant comes from before you eat it? The rise of food contamination concerns in restaurants has increased considerably during the past decade. There have been multiple cases of food contamination in popular restaurants like Chi-Chi’s and Wendy’s.
Unfortunately, in 2003 more than 650 people were sickened and four died from hepatitis A, contracted from Mexican green onions served at Chi-Chi’s according to the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. It proved to be the largest single-source epidemic of hepatitis A in our nation’s history. Chi-Chi’s paid a total compensation of $50 million.
The success of a restaurant is directly impacted by word of mouth reputation. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 6 Americans are sickened each year from foodborne illness.
The key to preventing these issues, according to FoodSafety.gov, is to take the appropriate precautions while cooking. Be aware of the differing risks associated with food types. For instance, raw meat can carry E. coli and chicken can carry salmonella, among others.
Food Safety Programs Offer Educational Option
The National Restaurant Association has developed a ServSafe Food Safety Program to standardize food safety. ServSafe offers multiple specific classes targeted towards different sections of the restaurant. One featured program is the Food Handler program. This class teaches:
- Basic Food Safety
- Personal Hygiene
- Cross-contamination & Allergens
- Time & Temperature
- Cleaning & Sanitation
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), suggests following four simple steps throughout food preparation. Dangerous bacteria are not always identifiable by simply looking at it, smelling it or even tasting it. The steps to safe food handling include:
- Clean – Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Separate – Don’t cross-contaminate.
- Cook – Cook to proper temperatures.
- Chill – Refrigerate promptly.
The USDA also provides information on food storage, thawing, preparation, a cold storage chart and more.
Managing Risk in the Kitchen
Aside from food preparation and handling, it is also crucial to strategically manage the risks involved with owning a culinary establishment. The right insurance policy can reduce such risks. Westfield Insurance offers a variety of packages specifically crafted for the hospitality sector. Some common ways to transfer risk via insurance include:
- Commercial general liability
- Business interruption or business income
- Food contamination coverage – offered in our Signature Series Restaurant Endorsement
- Product liability
Consumers should strive to maintain a thorough understanding of their chosen insurance policy in order to best minimize risk and utilize the benefits. The best way to protect your business is to not have a loss occur; however, accidents happen. If a loss does occur, it is crucial to get your establishment back in business. Certain insurance policies can ease the process, and aid in any necessary transitions.
Food Safety Tips
To reduce the risk of food contamination, install food safety guidelines for all employees to review and follow. For guidance, check out the Foodsafety.gov Food Charts.
It may even be helpful to create an employee handbook, or hold monthly meetings. It may also be helpful to require that employees take ServSafe programs to dig deeper into food cleanliness.
Aside from employee preparedness, insurance products will provide the legal coverage associated with any claims (as long as you have the correct coverage). Independent agents are your source for the right policy and protection; ask questions until you understand what you need. They provide guidance and reassurance that you are protected. The right insurance policy will uphold your brand’s reputation and will foster ongoing success in the event of a loss.
Are you a restaurant owner? Do you work at a restaurant? What food safety measures does your establishment carry out? We’d love to hear from you. Please share your response below.