How Restaurant Owners Can Avoid Food Poisoning Outbreaks
A restaurant owner or a fast food takeaway outlet can suffer massive loss of trade and customer confidence as a result of a food poisoning outbreak- as well as any compensation that they may need to pay as a result of any food poisoning injuries sustained.
What steps can the owner take to ensure that the risk of these outbreaks are kept to a minimum?
The following list is not exhaustive but will form the basis for good practice on behalf of employees and keep the risks of problems to a minimum:
- Ensure that there is a strictly enforced policy of handwashing by employees. Employees should have access to a clean sink and soap or detergent facilities. A washroom that badly maintained and out of soap (which unfortunately is a common measure by restaurant owners to save money) is asking for trouble.
- Check that there is a regular system for taking out rubbish- seems a simple measure but so often overlooked and leaving a breeding ground for problems
- Food should not be left out on buffets or in other display areas longer than required or necessary. The advice is different for foods that need to be refrigerated from that which requires to be kept hot but the principle remains- recycle regularly to avoid problems
- Be vigilant for discontented employees who repeatedly do not carry out the basic food safety procedures. If training and warnings do not cause the employee to change their behaviour then they need to be shown the door- there is simply too much at stake for the owner and proprietor.
The importance of these basic rules has been brought home by the recent problems in the US where the Chipotle Chain of Mexican restaurants have suffered an astonishing range of problems including two norovirus outbreaks in California and New England, two E Coli outbreaks in Minnesota and a salmonella outbreak (also in Minnestota).
This has meant a drop in their stock price, a criminal investigation and also a number of compensation claims which allege that the company failed to ensure safe standards for customers or warn of risks of food poisoning when necessary.
Although the Chipotle case is one that involves a large company with numerous outlets the lesson from that case is clear for all restaurant and fast food owners big or small