Why Food Brands Must Prioritize Food Safety & Mitigate Risks
By Paul Damaren, Chief Revenue Officer at RizePoint
As we approach Food Safety Month in September, it’s a good time to reinforce how brands can minimize food safety risks and keep their customers – and businesses – safer. All brands should be following best practices around food safety, utilizing tech tools to gather critical data and insights, prioritizing training, building strong food safety cultures, and identifying (and mitigating) risks.
It’s important for your business to follow gold standard safety protocols, but that alone is not enough. It’s also essential to monitor all suppliers to ensure they’re prioritizing food safety – and following proper protocols – because a breach at a farm, processing plant, or other stop along the supply chain can put customers and other businesses at risk.
Food Safety Month is a good time to emphasize the importance of this issue and ensure that all employees and suppliers are compliant. Follow these tips to boost food safety and mitigate risks:
- Use tech tools. Tech tools provide a holistic view of an organization, offer key data and insights, and allow brand leaders to make more informed decisions. Digital tools also help enforce safety standards, reduce risk, and protect brands by optimizing line checks, inspections, auditing, equipment monitoring, temperature checks, and reporting.
- Look at trends. Analyzing trends allows brands to see when (and where) they need to take corrective actions most frequently. For instance, if a brand is seeing issues with noncompliance at a certain location – and/or during a certain shift – they can focus time and resources accordingly to boost compliance (and mitigate risks). That could mean retraining staff, adjusting processes, increasing inspections, etc., for continuous improvement.
- Prioritize training. Food safety training is not a one-time effort, but should be ongoing to keep important food safety protocols top-of-mind for all employees. Some brands use Virtual Reality (VR) to make training more interactive, engaging, and memorable. Others send reminders directly to employees’ smartphones, so they always have critical information at their fingertips. Be certain that all employees understand – and follow – your food safety protocols to reduce costly, damaging breaches.
- Follow best practice food safety protocols. All employees must follow food safety protocols, like cooking foods to proper temperatures, storing foods properly, not cross-contaminating, sanitizing surfaces and equipment regularly, using designated “allergy-friendly” prep stations, etc. Ensure that employees wash their hands before working with food, after using the restroom, coughing, blowing their nose, and handling money or chemicals. Prohibit employees from working when they’re ill – even if you’re short-staffed. Reinforce the importance of these practices to keep guests, employees, and your business safer.
- Build and maintain a food safety culture. It used to be that customers trusted brands to work “behind the scenes” to keep them safe from foodborne illnesses. But now, customers demand more transparency so they can feel more
comfortable and confident about the products they’re buying and eating. Customers are more likely to buy from brands that prioritize a strong food safety culture, and are more likely to recommend safe business to others. Remind staff this is not “just” the food safety manager’s responsibility. It’s up to the whole team to protect the food, customers, and brand.
- Empower employees. Teamwork makes the dream work! Make sure that everyone on the team feels like they’re an important part of the solution. Provide the proper tools (including tech solutions) so employees can do their jobs correctly. Explain why the rules are in place and employees will be much more likely to comply. Ensure that your employees feel engaged, included, and like their voice matters. When team members are valued, trusted, and given responsibility for upholding and enforcing protocols, they’ll feel ownership of your food safety program and be committed to the cause.
- Monitor your suppliers. Build and maintain a transparent supply chain and ensure all of your suppliers comply with the strictest food safety rules. Remember: if your suppliers have a food safety breach, it can jeopardize your business (and your customers), as well. Work only with approved suppliers that prioritize food safety and are aligned with your values. Conduct regular reviews to confirm that your suppliers are compliant, which will help reduce risk for your brand. A healthy supply chain fosters strong communication and info-sharing. Your suppliers should be willing to share their safety certifications. If they’re not, find new suppliers!
- Boost transparency. Customers expect to see safety protocols being implemented correctly and consistently. It’s also wise to promote your commitment to food safety in your marketing materials, on your website, in your social media efforts, in media interviews, etc. to reassure key audiences – including customers, prospects, employees and potential team members, investors, vendors, partners, etc. – that you take food safety very seriously. This transparency can also attract and retain employees who want to work for companies that prioritize safety.
Since one innocent mistake can put your brand at risk for tremendous financial, legal, and reputational damage, food safety should be a top priority for all food businesses, including restaurants, retail, hospitality, processing, and manufacturing organizations. Follow these important steps to maximize safety, mitigate risks, and keep your guests (and your business) safer.
About the Author
Paul Damaren is Chief Revenue Officer at RizePoint, a technology leader in the food safety, quality management, compliance, and social responsibility space. RizePoint’s quality management software solutions help companies, including Starbucks, McDonald’s, Marriott, and more, keep brand promises through their quality, safety, and compliance efforts. Customers gather better data, see necessary actions earlier, and act faster to correct issues before they become costly liabilities. Check out RizePoint’s website and/or contact the team to learn how these solutions can help your company.
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