The Effective Strategy for Food Safety Checks and Balances You Need to Adopt

According to restaurant inspector Jeff Nelken, as reported by Food Hospitality, he checks under his restaurants' refrigerators two or three times a day, 300 days a year.

By now, he has a fair share of horror stories. But his proudest tales are of bringing of bringing the dirtiest restaurants back from the dead or helping them avoid a failing compliance grade and the government closing up shop.

Nelken has a special approach to getting his clients' restaurants back in line. It's called the Five Star Inspection Program.

With this process, his clients achieve self-reliance and pride through a more organized approach to employee training and food safety.

Once exclusive to Nelken's clients, we'll share his Five Star Inpection Program here with you in this post, and tell you some ways how using a digital reporting solution like Squadle can be a beneficial part of this process.

Star 1: Assign Responsibility

Are you listening? You better be. Because what I'm about to describe could be the most important job in the restaurant.

You need to assign one person to ensure that everyone is trained in the same way.

Having one person in charge of training will help you take back control of the operation. You can develop food safety standards, define good and bad practices, reduce waste, and so much more.

To carry out this star, it's pretty simple. Elect an internal inspector and arm him or her with the proper tools, like a digital reporting solution like Squadle, which can manage checklists for processes and training sessions described in the rest of the post.

Star 2: Train Staff Thoroughly

Because of poor training, many restaurant workers don't even know how to do the most rudimentary of tasks - like double-hand-washing after using the restroom.

For this reason, training should include the following:

  • Hand washing
  • Food handling
  • Receiving and storage
  • Cross contamination
  • Food cleaning (for safety)
  • Holding food (for safety)
  • Cold and hot tables use
  • Food serving
  • Cleanup
  • Dish-and pot-washing
  • Chemicals, sanitizers and test strips
  • To-go foods, containers, and process
  • Party safety
  • Food allergy awareness
  • Understanding health department inspections.

Review your employee on boarding process and make sure you're being detailed enough. Don't assume that people know how to do these things either from their last jobs or from, well, childhood. Err on the side of over-explaining.

Star 3: Control Time and Temperature 

The #1 cause of food borne illness is improper cooling of hot food. This can cause as many as half of all illnesses.

It's a serious concern. The CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of food borne diseases. 

You can better enable your staff to manage this responsibility through a digital solution like Squadle, which uses sensors to track temperatures in coolers automatically and consistently.

Star 4: Screen Deliveries 

The kitchen staff should know how to review food deliveries as they come in and check to make sure the food is still good. Frozen food cannot be thawed. Expiration dates must be respected. It can be tough to teach this, as many workers speak English as a second language, but it's a process that needs to be included in training.

Star 5: Be Aware of Potential Dangers

Restaurants need to know their potentially hazardous foods, or PHFs. Teach employees to pay extra attention to how they care for these foods to avoid a poor inspection or sick patrons. Again, this can be a cause of food borne illnesses and cause employees and customers to be harmed.

The most common PHFs are:

  • Melons (cut)
  • Eggs
  • Sprouts
  • Dairy
  • Pasteurized Juices
  • Poultry
  • Meat, seafood, tofu
  • Cooked vegetables, rice, beans, pasta and potatoes
  • Garlic, onions and herbs in oil
  • Creamy pastries and cakes (delicious, yet dangerous)

Teach employees to be extra conscious of what they do when handling these foods, and teach them how they should take extra care with these foods.

How to Organize This New Approach to Training

The proper processes for all of this may be locked away in corporate training materials or even in your head. The goal should be to get them out in the open through checklists in an app like Squadle's HQ app. This would make the checklists for processes such as food handling readily available to employees and would reinforce the information shared during training.

How do you handle training and avoid food safety disasters at your company? Let us know in the comments.