How to Create a Food-Safety-First Culture and Always be Audit Ready

Andrea Keefe Andrea Keefe
Creating a food safety culture in your restaurant

Did you know September is national food safety education month? Jolt is joining the celebration by providing information to help you create an operational culture focused on food safety in your restaurant. This is a culture that is essential for always being audit ready, maintaining credibility and operating with peace of mind. 

What is a Food Safety Audit, and Why is it Important?

A food safety audit is an activity that is done systematically to collect factual information determining if the business being reviewed, has met food safety audit criteria. Examples of audit criteria include: regulations, standards, contract, customer requirements and internal procedures. It is also important to note that food safety audits help assess if food is being manufactured in a safe environment. 

Paper checklist for an auditThis assessment uses the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system, which identifies hazards that may occur in the food production process. Great attention to food safety guarantees the food that’s being prepared is risk-free to consume. It can eliminate the risk of illness-causing bacteria from infected food and cross-contamination, and protects your restaurant’s reputation.

Creating an Operational Culture Focused on Food Safety Management

Developing a strong process and knowledge base for your employees is crucial to building a food safety centric culture. Doing so will give them the confidence to feel safe, keep customers safe and abide by the audit criteria specific to industry standards and guidelines. Here are a few tips that will help get you started:

5 easy tips for cleaning and sanitization 

Surfaces that are contacted with food need to be sanitized and cleaned at specific times during a shift:

    1. After an employee uses the surface. 
    2. After any task interruptions.
    3. When switching to preparing a different food on the same surface.
    4. If the surface is in constant use, sanitize it every four hours.
    5. Use a Digital Food Safety software to continuously track and remind your employees of daily food safety procedures.Surfaces that are contacted with food need to be sanitized and cleaned at specific times during a shift.

Make sure you and your food handlers are informed

Here are 10 things that your team should know about managing food:

    1. Know how to use a food thermometer.
    2. Be aware of the following food danger zone temperatures: 41°F to 135°F (5°C to 57°C).
    3. Understand which foods are more prone to become unsafe  and how to store them (temperature controlled for safety (TCS).
    4. Only accept cold TCS food at 41°F (5°C ) or lower and only accept hot TCS food at 135°F (57°C) or higher. 
    5. Cook TCS foods to the correct internal temperature and make sure it stays there for a specific amount of time.
    6. Consider incorporating remote temperature sensors to monitor the temperature of all your equipment as well as digital temperature probes that integrate with checklists to enforce food safety standards. 
    7. Store cleaning supplies and other chemicals away from food and in a safe area. 
    8. Keep produce away from raw meat. 
    9. Only use single-use gloves and never reuse or wash. 
    10. Wash hands often. Understand where, when and how

Create helpful training and documentation procedures

Communication is key to driving results, eliminating guesswork, and keeping employees and customers safe. Here are some ideas for increasing communication:

    1. Train employees on their specific role and how it may affect keeping food safe during their shift. 
    2. Review the HACCP overview and 7 principles and put together procedures for your employees.
    3. Create staff safety training to ensure a risk-free facility for everyone. (For example: trip threats, water spills, cleaning best practices, managing hot oil, etc.)
    4. Put together personal hygiene methods that will prevent contamination of food and cross-contamination. (For example, how to appropriately handle receiving and relocating shipments)
    5. Make sure you are sending out announcements such as product recalls, policy changes, menu updates etc. Check out Jolt Communication Manager
    6. Celebrate your staff by recognizing hard work through acknowledgment, gift cards and more. 
    7. Conduct periodic check-ins or send out staff surveys so that management has a good understanding of staff satisfaction. 
    8. Have fun! Consider gamification software for educational quizzes or friendly in-house competitions. 
    9. Consider utilizing a digital operations software to track team accountability and employee performance.  

Let’s be honest, food safety is simply never going away. The employees you hire play a very important role in protecting your business and keeping your customers safe. I hope that the information and resources I provided will help jump start building a strong operational food safety culture in your restaurant. 

We know that running a successful business means more than just managing food safety tasks. From employee management, cleanliness, food preparation, staying compliant, accounting, guest experience and more there is a lot on your plate. Jolt offers a digital operations software that not only saves you time, money and headaches. It can truly create a strong operational culture of food safety within your business and ensures you are always ready for an audit. For more information on how Jolt can help you, reach out to us

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