The CDC estimates that over 48 million people get sick each year from foodborne illnesses. Of those millions, 128,000 are hospitalized from their illnesses—and 3,000 die.
As you can see, it’s more important than ever for anyone who works with food to practice safe food handling techniques. Because when you do, you can easily prevent the formation of any of the 250 foodborne diseases in existence from affecting your customers.
The best way to encourage safe food handling in your restaurant is to create a culture that prioritizes food safety.
What is Food Safety Culture?
‘Food safety culture’ describes when everyone in the company values food safety more than profits and sales. Developing a food safety culture takes time, as well as an investment of money and resources into additional personnel, protective equipment, and safety plans.
If you’re looking to improve your business’ food safety culture, follow our tips below!
Strategies for Improving Food Safety Practices
1. Start with Leadership
The phrase ‘start at the top’ certainly applies when you’re working to improve food safety. So once you get leadership involved, the rest of the business will follow suit. Additionally, leadership controls the resources you need to improve food safety culture, like budget, hiring allowances, and committee development.
2. Explain the “Why”
Before you implement changes to improve your business’ food safety culture, ensure everyone understands why a great food safety culture is important. Without an explanation of its importance, most employees won’t follow food safety compliance. Whether it’s sharing facts, real-world examples, or explaining the repercussions the business could face, make sure that everyone understands the why.
3. Create a Training Program
You can’t improve your food safety culture unless all employees understand how to handle food safely. You need to create a robust training program that includes information about each step of the food handling process: preparation, cooking, and cleanup. Additionally, your training program should touch on the differences between handling raw and cooked food, proper cooking temperatures, and food storage.
4. Form a Food Safety Committee
A single training session isn’t nearly inclusive enough to cover all the safety training your employees need. Continuous training sessions scheduled and managed by a food safety committee will take your food safety culture to the next level. Additionally, the committee can help to ensure you’re doing your part to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses.
5. Supply the Essential Equipment
While training teaches your team how to properly handle food, they’re powerless without the right equipment. You must ensure there is enough of the proper supplies for the amount of food being prepared. For example, you need to keep a food thermometer at every station, not just a single one in the kitchen.
6. Engage and Reward Employees
Engaging employees at the start of any new program is easy. But once the training and regulations become routine, it can be challenging to keep employees engaged. To overcome this, create a reward or incentive system as part of your program for improved food safety. Whether it’s catered lunches after accident-free milestones, or gift card raffles at every safety training, small rewards can go a long way.
7. Maintain Your Commitment
Improvements in your food safety culture won’t happen overnight; they will take time and require long-term commitments from everyone involved. While your reward system will help employees stay dedicated, everyone involved needs to understand that results won’t happen overnight; they should expect to invest time to see results.
Start Your Food Safety Training Today
Now that you have a better understanding of how to improve the food safety culture, it’s time to take the next step and get trained. Lucky for you, we offer all the food safety training courses you will need. Sign up for your food safety manager or food handler training today!