HOW FOOD SAFETY CAN NEGATIVELY IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS
Food safety should be top of mind for any food professional because it is always a potential risk. It can be a safety risk for consumers, but also poses a legitimate business threat for food producers and distributors. The CDC estimates that roughly one in six people get sick each year and over 3,000 deaths are caused by foodborne agents in the US alone.
When there is an outbreak connected to your operation, regardless of how the contamination occurred, your brand will be impacted. The value of your brand is vulnerable and it may take months for your reputation to recover. Not only can this have a seriously negative impact on customer trust and loyalty, but the effect on your bottom line can also be damaging.
Food safety and foodborne outbreaks are not something food professionals may think about, unfortunately, until it’s too late. Chipotle Mexican Grill’s business and reputation were severely impacted after a 2016 outbreak, and their business continues to suffer nearly two years later. In fact, just this last July, Chipotle shares dropped 12 percent in a single week following another outbreak.
There are many ways to protect your customers and your brand by adopting best practices for food safety. The number one way to avoid foodborne pathogens is to store and prepare your food at the proper temperatures. For example. when preparing ground beef, the internal temperature at the thickest part of the meat needs to be 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill lurking E. coli.
You can protect your product by monitoring the temperature using thermometers and data loggers like Digi Smart Solutions for Food Service. Automated products like these use technology to determine the internal temperature of your foods as well as the ambient atmosphere that your food is stored in. You can also use traditional methods like the slower lollipop thermometers along with pen and paper to record temperatures. It’s important to record temperature history in order to guarantee the safety of your product and to comply with mandatory handling procedures.
Protecting your food against cross-contamination by requiring your employees to follow basic safety precautions will help stop the spread of food pathogens like salmonella. Using new, clean tools to prepare different foods, washing cooking surfaces and your hands in between preparation steps can help as well. For example, after a chef has used a cutting board surface to prepare raw chicken, that surface must be thoroughly washed with soap and water before it can be used again for vegetables.
There are many ways you can improve the safety practices of your restaurants to protect customers from getting sick at your restaurant. Encouraging employees to stay home when they are sick, rather than coming in and “working through it,” will protect your patrons from contracting the same illness your employee may be carrying. This was a notorious downfall for Chipotle - both during the 2016 outbreaks and in their most recent norovirus outbreak this past July in Virginia. Enforcing proper hygiene practices among your employees such as hand washing rules and glove wearing when handling food will further protect your customers if an employee is bringing an illness to work.