Prohibit Employees from Working When Ill
Corona virus is a highly contagious illness that can be spread easily and quickly. If employees are vomiting or have diarrhea, they should not work. No exceptions – even if you’re busy and short-staffed on a hectic Saturday night dinner shift. Norovirus could sicken your entire staff and your guests, and it can be transmitted on surfaces (doorknobs, menus, sink faucets, etc.) and via food that’s been handled by someone who’s ill.
Walk the Walk
Ensure that company leaders demonstrate a commitment to food safety and set a good example for employees to follow. When food safety culture starts with buy-in from leadership, employees understand that food safety is a priority, and are more likely to take it seriously. When it comes to food and Covid Safety
It’s not enough to tell employees they need to do specific things in the name of food safety (e.g., not cut raw poultry on the same board as ready-to-eat foods, take the internal temperatures of foods, take food allergies seriously, etc.) Explain whyit’s so important to follow each protocol so they understand the reasoning behind the rules. Employees are more likely to comply when they understand why the protocols matter.
Provide Ongoing Food Safety Training
Food safety training and education should be an ongoing effort. Train all employees, emphasizing why food safety is a huge priority for your organization. I recommend in-person trainings with a food safety expert – at least initially. Face-to-face interactions can help engage employees, emphasize key points, and create a more memorable learning experience. Online training is helpful for refreshers and reminders throughout the year.
Avoid Careless Mistakes
Employees should know that even seemingly “minor” mistakes could sicken (or even kill) guests. Careless mistakes could include: using the same board to prep raw proteins and then chop veggies for a salad, serving a nut-allergic guest pesto made with walnuts, “forgetting” to return cold foods to the refrigerator in a timely manner, and failing to take the temperature of meats as part of the cooking process (an error that caused the massive foodborne illness crisis for Jack in the Box years ago).
Have systems in place for regular self-inspections and audits. Task multiple employees with this important assignment so you’ll have multiple sets of eyes looking for potential problems. Utilize checklists – I recommend digital checklists – to increase accuracy and compliance. These self-inspections should cover equipment (ensuring everything is clean and working correctly), facilities (everything is sanitary, no cracks in tiles, no mold or pests, etc.), and staff (everyone is complying with proper food safety protocols).Address and solve potential problems as soon as they’re noticed.
Stock Your Kitchen with the Proper Equipment
Make it easy for your employees to follow the food safety rules. After all, they can’t check temperatures if they don’t have access to food thermometers. Designate an allergy-friendly prep area – and provide color-coded food allergy equipment – to safely prepare meals for food-allergic guests. Provide multiple boards and knives so staff can use some for raw proteins and others for
Hire a Third-Party Food Safety Expert
An objective, third-party consulting like Better Call Beth can see things that your internal team may have missed, and can often spot problems before they become liabilities. Additionally, they’re informed about the latest food codes, and know what local health departments will look for during their inspections. It’s wise to have a third-party expert inspect your facilities at regular intervals, provide food safety training, and ensure that all food safety protocols are being properly followed.