Food Safety is about keeping the health department happy, right? Wrong! It’s about serving safe food to your customers and staying in business. Food Safety and your bottom line are directly connected.
Food safety often only gets addressed at restaurants because the health department mandates it. Honestly, how many pizzerias would go through the trouble of training all of their employees on food safety basics and make sure their managers were trained extensively? Until most jurisdictions made food handler certifications mandatory for all food workers, I would venture to say that less than half of independent pizzerias went to the trouble of training their employees on any food safety practices past how to wash their hands.
One of my first jobs was working at a fried chicken chain. I handled raw chicken all day long, and I was never once told the importance of how to properly wash my hands nor the implications of cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods. I often wonder if I ever made anyone ill.
It wasn’t until I owned my own pizzerias that I finally understood food safety. I quickly realized that one simple mistake by an employee could put my entire operation, reputation, and ability to make a living at risk – not to mention someone could become seriously ill or even die.
At my pizzerias, I took food safety very seriously. I required all of my managers to undergo the ServSafe Manager training and all other employees including drivers, bussers, and hosts also took food-handler training. Way back in the day before the Internet was as great as it is today we had to send our managers to in-person training courses for two days, and the hourly employees had books with written tests that I graded personally. Now it is much easier with everything online.
So which food safety training option is the best? Having tried many of the different services available we here at Perfecting Pizza partnered up with Always Food Safe. They have a simple interface, employee management solutions, and the training is entertaining, straightforward, and makes perfect sense – no more boring slideshows to sit through. The really nice part is that it can be as cheap as $8.00 per student! There really isn’t much of an excuse not to be doing food safety at your operation with great solutions like this.
Training your employees is only half the battle. You as the owner, along with the management need to be a shining example of how food safety is to be practiced in your pizzeria – no shortcuts ever.
Food safety systems need to be implemented. Things like sanitizer logs, temperature logs, and cooling procedures will give you a paper trail and help hold you self-accountable. You can find these templates on perfectingpizza.com as a member so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. https://perfectingpizza.com/resources/operations/food-safety/
Don’t bury your head in the sand. Address food poisoning complaints head-on and take them seriously. How you handle a complaint can be the difference between making one person sick and recovering your reputation quickly vs. causing an outbreak and losing everything. Perfectingpizza.com offers a food-borne illness manager procedure template and investigation form that is available for download to members.
Adequate tools need to be in place. Make sure you have plenty of stem thermometers, gloves, soap, sanitizer, and hair nets (or hats) for everyone to use. If the tools are not in place and readily available they won’t get used.
Take a few moments to watch the short webinar from our friends at Always Food Safe and learn just how much food safety and the bottom line are connected.
Have fun and stay food safe!