The media regularly names and shames food businesses with sub-par food safety ratings, like this NZ Herald article that listed Auckland’s dirtiest restaurants, and understandably these kinds of articles get a lot of eyes on them. It’s a weird part of human nature to want to satiate their morbid curiosity, plus it’s in the interest of the public to have clear visibility around which food businesses are safe and which ones might make them sick.
If you’re in the business of food, it’s obviously not your mission in life to get shut down. Avoid these five no-nos and you’ll be well on your way to remaining open, staying compliant and continuing to provide exceptional service to your customers.
1. Pest Infestations
One of the most common reasons why a cafe or restaurant might get shut down is because of an inability to keep nasty pests at bay. Cockroaches, rats, mice, even birds - they do not belong in any kind of eatery or food business. Yet a handful of the New Zealand's eating establishments that got slapped with an E food rating (and consequently temporarily shut down) in November 2018 failed to keep their kitchens clear of some of these nasties.
2. Poor Storage & Cross Contamination
According to the NZ Herald, one Auckland eating establishment was closed due to poor storage and cross contamination issues. That likely means meat and fresh vegetables were being stored incorrectly or too close to each other, that their fridges might not have been at the correct temperature, or that when new food deliveries arrived it took too long to refrigerate everything.
3. Cleanliness & Poor Hygiene
Cleanliness is always a big factor into why food businesses might get labelled with a low food hygiene grade and subsequently shut down. Last year, one eating establishment was even labelled as being a ‘critical risk’ because of its poor cleaning standards.
4. Non-Compliant Labelling
According to the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), all businesses that sell or supply food must meet labelling and composition requirements under the Food Act 2014 and the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
Why? Because accurate labelling provides customers with the information they need to decide what to buy, meet dietary needs and, in some cases ,prevent adverse or life-threatening reactions to food. At least one of the Auckland restaurants that were closed down in November 2018 failed to label their food correctly, which could have been harmful or dangerous to their customers.
Keen to see how your food business is tracking? Do the Safe Food Pro quiz now to find out.
5. Undeclared Allergens
Another reason why an eating establishment might be penalised is because they have failed to declare any allergens to their customers. For example, if they advertise that they’re gluten-free dishes or list vegan dishes on their menu, they’re obliged to actually provide these variations. If there’s a possibility of cross-contamination between allergens, they’re also obliged to inform their customers.
How to Keep Your Food Business Open
If you’re in the business of food (in fact, this is true for any kind of business), your intention is not to be hit with a fine, warning or company closure due to industry non-compliance. You want to remain open at all times and continue to provide exceptional service to your customers and clients.
Your Food Control Plan is King
A simple way to ensure you stay compliant (and to maintain your A-grade food safety hygiene certificate) is to make sure you’ve implemented foolproof food safety management procedures and plans.
The best way to do this is to make sure your Food Control Plan (FCP) is visible to everyone who works for you, and that everyone understands their role in ensuring your overall business remains compliant.
Some food businesses keep a manual FCP and manually record what they’re obliged to (and hope everyone remembers to do their bit), while others have gone digital using the likes of Safe Food Pro’s intuitive app that lets business owners set up reminders and assign tasks to staff members.
Train, Train, Train
There’s no point in having an FCP if your staff don’t know what they’re meant to do around it, so training in every kind of food business is paramount. It might be tricky getting everyone who works for you in the same room at the same time, but don’t let that put you off upskilling your team, ensuring the safety of your customers and remaining industry-compliant. And remember, you don’t have to do all the training yourself; equip your senior staff to train up younger, less-experienced staff members.
Not sure how to go about training your staff? Here are some handy tips and tricks.
Find Out How You’re Performing
Food businesses are some of the busiest companies in the country, so we understand how hard it can be to make sure you’re always dotting your Is and crossing your Ts. Unfortunately, whether you’ve got the time or not, remaining compliant and ensuring the safety of the people who consume or receive your food is paramount to every food business.
Not sure how you’re tracking, or wish you could get your average food safety rating up to an A? Take our food safety IQ test to find out what areas of your business you could do with a hand.