Article contributed by Rada Tarnovsky, Letter Grade Consulting
One of the most important challenges that food service operators face on a daily basis is maintaining food safety. No matter how much time and money is invested on menu development, décor, and talent, it takes one incident of foodborne illness to damage a brand. We’ve all witnessed it happen time and again.
Assisting restaurateurs and other food service operations with health code compliance, has taught us that the key to operating at the highest levels of food safety lies in developing a strong food safety culture.
Where do you begin? …Education
Servers, cooks, dishwashers, hosts and everyone in between need to know the rules to fully appreciate the importance food safety.
Because creating a food safety culture is a joint effort. Does it matter if a chef cooks food to the right temperature, if the server uses his bare hands to plate it? No…
The end result is a critical violation that could potentially lead to food that is unsafe to eat. Keeping food safe is dependent on the actions of everyone involved.
Section 81.15 of the NYC Health Code requires every food service establishment to have one person with a Food Protection Certificate. Not having an FPC holder on the day the Department of Health conducts an inspection, will result in a $600 money fine and 10 violation points. That’s just 4 points away from a “B” letter grade.
Although having one person complete the food protection course will satisfy DOH requirements, relying on one person to know food safety rules isn’t enough. Creating a strong food safety culture takes a village. We recommend having as many FPC holders as possible. Providing staff with the opportunity to learn the rules and be part of the process will allow them to work together, which in turn will leave less room for error.
Next steps for a food safety culture…
Although taking the course is a good place to start, training should be ongoing. Encourage everyone to take part and make suggestions based on what they learned. Hold on-site seminars and weekly meetings. Stay proactive, discuss strategies, and implement new methods. Once created, a strong food safety culture will protect your brand, keep your patrons safe, help maintain that “A” letter grade on your door and keep the customers coming back.
Rada Tarnovsky is a practicing attorney, who co-founded Letter Grade Consulting to help food service operators comply with regulations set forth by the NYC Department of Health. Servicing restaurants, hotels, theatres, corporate cafeterias and schools, Letter Grade Consulting provides operators with preemptive solutions, education and training to sustain the highest level of food safety, remain inspection ready and maintain the “A” in the window. Rada can be reached at email@example.com