Safeguards Against Foodborne Illness

Protect Yourself from Illness Outbreaks - ServSafe Tells How

Foodborne illness can not only harm customers, but also impact business. The National Restaurant Association ServSafe team explains how to improve your food-safety techniques.
A man washing his hands
Protect Yourself from Illness Outbreaks

National Restaurant Association

Restaurateurs must stay vigilant and practice proper food-safety techniques to help prevent the spread of foodborne illness at their businesses.

What you should know: According to the Centers for Disease Control, 48 million people become ill due to foodborne illnesses each year, with nearly 3,000 being fatal.

Outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported in 15 states and Canadaover the last seven weeks. The CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are currently investigating the outbreaks, which may be linked to leafy greens. The Public Health Agency of Canada says the outbreaks there appear to be over.

The CDC notes that three of the main causes of foodborne illness are due to purchasing food from unsafe sources, using contaminated equipment and practicing poor personal hygiene.

Why it’s important: For restaurants, outbreaks can not only harm their customers, but have costly impacts on business.

Our ServSafe team recently shared some examples of prerequisite programs that help protect guests and operators. When effectively implemented, those programs, form the baseline knowledge and practices necessary for keeping food safe. Strengthening your overall food-safety management system will allow for greater compliance with regulatory requirements and reduce your food safety risk.

The programs are:

  1. Personal hygiene practices. According to the CDC, one of the leading causes of foodborne illness results from poor personal hygiene. Each employee working with food must practice proper handwashing, wear gloves when handling ready-to-eat foods, change uniforms when soiled and keep hair appropriately covered.
  2. Cleaning and sanitation. Operators should develop written standard procedures for equipment cleaning and sanitation to reduce food-safety risk factors, such as cross contamination.
  3. Supplier approval/receiving. Developing a strong supplier approval prerequisite program will help verify that your suppliers are providing safe, quality food and allow you to proactively manage supply chain related risks.

How it affects you: Some of the most common challenges you may face include:

  • Obtaining staff and management buy-in
  • Training staff
  • Constant monitoring of the programs
  • Knowing how and where to start
  • The initial time and cost to implement new practices and techniques

These challenges are small compared to the benefits you will experience, which include:

  • Lowered costs from reduced food waste, less mistakes, reduced complaints
  • Better trained staff
  • Increased brand protection
  • Effective execution of food-safety policies
  • Reduced food-safety risks
  • Strengthened food-safety culture
  • Reduced regulatory noncompliance

If restaurateurs adopt one food safety resolution in 2018, our team advises they take more control over verifying supply chain management systems. It’s vital to know where and how the food you serve is processed and manufactured.

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