Consumers still care a lot about restaurant safety – and according to a new Deloitte survey of 1,000 consumers who had eaten in a restaurant in recent months, they want to see it in action. More than half of the respondents (55 percent) said they would be willing to pay 10-15 percent more at a restaurant if they were told about the safety and cleanliness measures the business was taking to protect their food during transport and preparation. Further, consumers are noticing both traditional cleaning measures and more recent Covid-safety measures more acutely right now. Find ways to make your safety efforts more visible – in cleaning surfaces around your facility, preparing food or protecting employees and guests, and even with signage that explains all you’re doing to protect the people you’re serving and employing
Poultry may be an especially hot commodity right now amid supply chain strains, but don’t let that result in the relaxation of any food safety standards on your part. Poultry is still among the top commodities responsible for foodborne illness, so it’s especially important to take care when preparing it. Keep raw poultry and its juices away from other foods during preparation and refrigeration. Don’t wash poultry, which can contaminate nearby surfaces. Cook it to an internal temperature of 165°F and ensure an accurate measure by inserting the thermometer into the thickest areas, avoiding bone.
Cleaning was once something restaurant employees tried to keep hidden behind the scenes. But now, your guests take comfort in knowing what you do to keep your facility clean and limit the spread of illness. What’s more, they are more likely to be watching what your team does to maintain safety between guests and during the course of a busy shift. Make your cleaning procedures a continuous part of your training and empower employees to take responsibility for safety within your business, knowing they have your backing. Wherever possible, employ digital tools to keep track of cleaning tasks that might be overlooked during a busy period and to provide regular alerts to staff about tasks that need to be completed.
Research from the National Restaurant Association found that 78 percent of restaurant operators are experiencing a decline in customer demand for indoor, on-premises dining because of the delta variant spike. While there are still some weeks remaining when outdoor dining is a comfortable option for guests, consider how you will fortify your business for the winter when it comes to Covid safety. If you are taking steps to purify the air in your dining room, encourage ventilation, enhance your procedures for cleaning and sanitizing high-contact areas throughout your facility, or winterize your outdoor seating area, share your plans with guests on your website, mailing list and social media so guests know you’re a safe bet when they need a restaurant food fix in the months ahead.
A moist, warm environment like your kitchen – particularly in the summer – can lead to the buildup of moisture and grease around your facility, which can, in turn, create mold contamination risks and increase the likelihood of workplace accidents. Hospitality and food safety specialist Dhruv Kishore Bole advises operators to ensure proper ventilation, schedule deep cleaning tasks at regular intervals and to have the hood and ducts cleaned by an outside vendor at least once every three of four months to prevent the accumulation of grease and minimize fire hazards.
As careful as your kitchen team may be about wiping up regularly, if they use rags that aren’t washed, sanitized and/or replaced frequently enough, they run the risk of spreading pathogens around your facility and potentially contaminating food. Warm kitchens are especially effective breeding grounds for bacteria. Make sure your cleaning rags are replaced or washed daily and that between uses, you store wet reusable cloths in a container with sanitizer at the required concentration.
Poorly maintained appliances aren’t just energy drains but also food safety hazards – and if you aren’t using up-to-date technology to monitor your equipment right now, ensure you are manually checking it daily for signs of malfunction. The walk-in cooler, for example, is among the top sources of food inspection violations. Monitor your cooler’s working order by confirming there is no difference between the temperature of the air in the cooler and the food being stored. Look for traces of mold and ensure the door closes securely. Check for the build-up of grease on the exhaust fan, as well as any water dripping from it, which can pose a food contamination risk.
Let’s face it: The optics of food safety have become much more important since the pandemic started. Food safety is not only important to protecting your business behind the scenes. It’s also become something to showcase to guests so they trust you’re committed to protecting them – and it can also help you attract business from competitors who don’t make their safety practices clear. If you haven’t already, consider making your food safety commitment a key part of your marketing. The National Restaurant Association’s ServeSafe Dining Commitment, for example, enables restaurants to place the SSDC logo on their front door, website, menu and other materials to show guests you’re doing your part to protect their safety.
Do you keep salt and pepper shakers on your tables, or even containers for condiments like ketchup and mustard? They are the kinds of items less likely to be cleared from tables between guests – and are therefore likely to be among the grimiest items in your restaurant, according to research from The Rail. If you haven’t done so already, edit down the items you keep on each table that guests are apt to touch. Ideally, provide packets or reusable containers for guests who request these items. If you need to keep the items on tables throughout the day, make sure they are included in your cleaning and sanitizing routine.
It's more than enough to make you lose your appetite: One of the least sanitary places in a restaurant is the ice machine – not what anyone wants to hear, especially during the season of cool drinks. As The Rail reports, a 2006 study found that 70 percent of ice in ice machines contained more bacteria than the water in a toilet. How can you avoid this, right now? A weekly cleaning with a chlorine solution can keep mold and slime at bay, while a water softener or phosphate filter can prevent scale buildup. Have the machine professionally serviced on a regular basis as well. Look for traces of mold, slime, scale or sediment in your ice machine regularly, and use a clean scoop (stored outside of the machine) to scoop ice.