There are many facets to food safety compliance. You must acquire food and ingredients from a safe source, you must store and cook food properly, your staff must wash their hands, etc. But more than being compliant and passing food safety inspections, practicing food safety and maintaining food safety standards will protect your customers’ health, your staff’s health, and your brand.
Though there are different food safety specifications depending on location, the overall national food standards are quite similar. In order to be compliant with food safety standards, food vendors must respect the federal and local regulations that apply to:
- Safe Source - Food and ingredients must come from a safe source.
- Safe Temperature - Food is held at food safe temperatures, whether hot or cold.
- Proper Cooking - Food -especially meat, poultry, and pork- is prepared and cooked properly.
- Proper Handling - Food is handled to prevent cross-contamination and foodborne illness in common work areas and with common utensils.
- Proper Hand washing - Food handlers must wash hands -and ideally put on gloves- before handling food.
Being compliant with food safety law will help you keep your doors open, but it will not necessarily ensure your reputation or build your customer base. Your customers want to feel that your establishment is doing everything it can to keep food safe. Are you doing everything you can to balance food safety practices with customer perception about food safety?
A great way to instill food safety confidence is color-coding tools, utensils, and work spaces. Prevent cross-contamination of allergens, raw meat, raw poultry, raw seafood, dairy, washed produce, and ready to eat foods with color-coded knives, cutting boards, and cooking and serving utensils.
Explain your food safe efforts and post them on your web-site, in your menu, and in your walk-in hallway. Educate your staff and encourage them to engage with customers who ask about food safety practices and compliance. Remember that food safety compliance is not the same thing as your customers’ perception about food safety in your business.