In a year of many extremes, extreme weather has become way of life for many parts of the U.S. this summer. From droughts to fires to floods, these events have a ripple effect on the food supply. Food Safety Magazine reports that rising temperatures alone may increase infections by food- and waterborne pathogens, push plant pests into new areas and potentially result in greater use of pesticides, increase the uptake of toxic metals in staple crops, make plants more susceptible to fungal infections, and expand the presence of algal blooms that threaten seafood safety. All told, the current situation requires foodservice operators to have a reliable means of monitoring new potential hazards and adapting the menu accordingly.
As restaurants and other businesses reopen and people gather in greater numbers, there is a risk of increased cases of Covid-19. Your cleaning practices, cleaning materials and labor scheduling plan needs to keep pace with the new environment. Chris Boyles, vice president of food safety at Steritech, told Restaurant Dive that cleaning costs will look different for restaurants now. For example: Do you have sufficient staff on hand to carry out your enhanced cleaning procedures? Are you using disinfectants that have been approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19? If one of your employees tests positive for the virus and you need to close your premises for cleaning, what will it cost to hire a third-party disinfection service if required? Anticipating these costs and planning for them may help you avoid having to pay more than needed as you ensure your business is clean and ready to serve guests.
Operators are well aware that issues such as kitchen pests and improper handwashing can lead to food safety problems in restaurants. But what about having a lack of available financial credit? A report from the software company Checkit mentions this as a major food safety problem in small restaurants. It cites an example of a restaurant that received an unexpectedly large gas bill totaling approximately $40,000, then struggled to make the payment, causing a succession of kitchen infrastructure problems that led to serious food safety hazards. Though it may not be every day that a restaurant receives a bill for tens of thousands of dollars, it happens, particularly when a business hasn’t budgeted for regular maintenance on a property. If you face a large expense, don’t have ready access to credit and must then direct resources away from critical business processes in order to pay bills, food safety is sure to be at risk. What sort of emergency budget preparations have you made to protect your business from surprise expenses?