Scaling a restaurant food safety program across locations can be tricky but far from impossible. Food safety is controllable if practices are integrated into daily operations.
In the restaurant world, food safety challenges and problems are to be expected. And when business is booming and the brand is growing, it’s easy to see how food safety can take a back seat to things like hiring staff, ordering equipment, and securing vendors. But when a restaurant brand begins to scale, a food safety program should also be scaled because it’s a vital to business success. More locations mean a higher risk for food contamination.
As a best practice, make sure you have all your operating procedures written down and followed, including food safety program procedures. Keep in mind that each restaurant business is unique and has different needs regarding food safety. Here are some things you should consider when planning to scale a restaurant food safety program across multiple locations.
Developing a culture of food safety will help avoid problems when the time comes to scale the business. If food safety is important to restaurant owners and managers, it will also be important to employees.
Set a standard for cleaning that all locations can follow. Incorporate cleaning and food safety as part of the restaurant’s QA program. Develop a cleaning checklist for front of house and back of house that covers tasks during and after shifts, at the end of the day, weekly and monthly. For example, during and after shifts in the kitchen, wipe and disinfect prep stations, cutting boards and countertops. At the end of the day, wipe down the walls and clean and disinfect grills and cooktops. Clean ovens at least once a week, and empty grease traps every month.
Employee training for food safety should include procedures for washing hands and taking temperatures. In fact, if this training is provided on a consistent basis, then it’s more likely that staff will perform well when the health inspector shows up to do a restaurant health inspection. Other important training features should cover using disposable gloves when handling food, sanitation guidelines, and how to manage employee food and drinks.
There are challenges and hazards associated with different types of restaurant food storage. Areas that need attention with checklists and food safety procedures include walk-in coolers, make table coolers, dry storage and freezers. In all these areas, protect food with plastic wrap or lids. Make sure that food stored on higher shelves is secure and won’t fall and contaminate food on lower shelves. Finally, never store food on the floor.
Product rotation is very important in ensuring that you’re serving the freshest and safest food possible. All food should be dated and labeled and not held longer than seven days. Every day, someone should be in charge of looking at dates and following “first in, first out” protocol.
Employee hygiene is just as important to a restaurant as food safety. As a restaurant customer, we want the people who are preparing and serving our food to look clean. We have organized nine tips for employee hygiene that you can use for a staff training on the subject. Good hygiene should always be expected from all restaurant employees.
As your restaurant brand grows, it will be necessary to keep track of health department inspections across all locations. Having one place to house the reports so that owners and managers can access them will help with a 360-degree view of what’s happening with the food safety performance in different locations
Many restaurants partner with companies who provide third-party food safety inspections. This should give a non-biased perspective with constructive feedback not only on food safety inspection performance but also guidance on developing a customized food safety program and implementing procedures on good food safety practices to scale across all locations.