What is a Food Safety Consultant and Why Does Your Restaurant Need One
As a restaurant owner, you need to abide by many food safety standards. This is where a food safety consultant comes in. Here’s why you need one.
Do you run a restaurant or a business with a kitchen? Does it feel overwhelming when you think about all the balls you juggle every day?
Most of the time, a kitchen manager handles everything from kitchen food safety to personnel changes and sometimes the dining room, too. If you feel stretched thin, read this article to find the help you need.
Below, we’ll tell you all about what a food safety consultant is and why you need one. When you’re ready to make the leap, use our quick tips for choosing a consultant that’s right for your kitchen.
What Is a Food Safety Consultant?
Food safety consultants give you confidence that your kitchen complies with all regulations. They are an outside pair of eyes to keep you and your kitchen staff on track.
Protecting your customers from getting sick is of the utmost importance. With guidelines that change all the time, having someone else around to work alongside you on this project is a must.
Why Does Your Restaurant Need One?
You may think that everyone knows how to follow basic safety rules like wearing gloves or avoiding cross contamination. But sanitizing daily and checking storage temperatures isn’t everyone’s first priority.
In fact, some employees choose not to read the instructions or cut corners to speed things up. This can lead to failed inspections, or worse, sick clientele.
While you want to have speedy service, you also need to avoid these problems. When you hire a consultant, it’s a lot easier to meet both goals.
Here are three big reasons your restaurant needs a food safety consultant.
There are regulations to follow in any kitchen. No matter which food safety management system you follow, you want to maintain your certifications. Here are some standard food safety certifications:
- BRC certification (most popular) – British Retail Consortium
- SQF from Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)
- FSSC 22000 also from GFSI
You have to follow many guidelines for legal compliance and certification. Staying on top of everything requires a lot of meticulous list-keeping.
If that’s not you, a food safety consultant can help you stay in compliance. Let someone else make the lists and double check them. Having another person on your team to keep track of the nit-picky items is an asset you can’t afford to work without.
When you hire a food safety consultant, did you know you hire extra support? They are they to help organize and manage the system, but they also give advice.
The support an independent consultant gives is invaluable. Your consultant should be able to help with anything from kitchen emergencies to encouragement and recommendations.
While it’s hard to quantify this type of help, the results you see from its implementation won’t be nebulous.
The regulations for these and other organizations or laws change often. It’s hard to keep up with all the requirements.
A food safety consultant keeps up with all the guidelines and assesses your specific needs. They’ll help you change processes or procedures when the rule changes, so that you don’t miss a beat.
You can achieve compliance with the help of a consultant, even with ceaseless updates to the regulations.
How to Choose a Food Safety Consultant
That’s great, you’re convinced that a consultant is important for your restaurant. But if you want to hire one, where do you start?
How do you know that the one you’ve picked out is the right fit for your business? Here are a few questions to ask to make sure you’ve made the best decision.
Do They Have Outside Resources?
Food safety consultants should have access to outside resources because of the field they’re in. Even if they don’t know the answer to a question you have, they should be able to find it within their network of experts and colleagues.
Are They Too Cheap?
Don’t rule out an expensive consultant. Most often, you get what you pay for, and having to pay a little more for quality service is worth it.
Ask all the questions before you go with someone who charges less than their competitors. There’s doubtless a reason they can’t charge the same prices as other consultants you looked at.
Trust your instincts, and triple check before you hire the cheapest option.
Do They Understand the Regulations?
Choosing someone who has memorized the rules won’t help you if they don’t understand them. You need a consultant who has experience applying the rules to the real world.
Being able to recite the rulebook doesn’t mean they can interpret it. Food safety consultants are like the judges in the courtrooms of the kitchen. Instead of quoting it, they have to be able to interpret the law.
Ask your prospective consultant if they have experience in the kitchen. If not, give them some real-life scenarios you have encountered in your own kitchen to respond to. This way you can make sure they know how to handle a difficult situation.
Abiding By Safety Standards
Keeping up with regulations doesn’t have to be a headache you’re used to. A food safety consultant can help you be compliant, keep up with changes, and find the extra support you need.
To choose a consultant, ask some basic questions about their experience, resources, and pricing. Soon your restaurant will be a slick machine, and you will be able to focus on other aspects of the kitchen.
With over 20 years of expertise, TCI can help you achieve these goals. For more about food safety management systems developed around your needs, select a consultant package on our website.
Top 10 Food Safety Tips for Restaurants and Commercial Kitchens
Food safety is one of the most important aspects of running a restaurant. Read on to learn about the top ten food safety tips.
You’re surely aware of salmonella, E. coli, listeria, and norovirus — but did you know that there are over 250 food borne illnesses? Each year, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million people get sick from a food borne illness. Of those, some 128,000 must be hospitalized, and 3,000 die as a result of getting sick from poor food handling practices.
If you supervise a restaurant or commercial kitchen, it is absolutely imperative to understand food safety. We’ve compiled a list of food safety tips to get you started.
Hand It to Safety
One of the most important tips to help keep your commercial kitchen safe is good, old fashioned hand washing. “Employees Must Wash Hands” is more than just a mandatory poster on the kitchen, bathroom, or break room wall.
Make hand washing an iron-clad rule. Train your employees in proper hand washing procedures.. And administer strict and swift consequences for those who don’t follow this rule.
Make Gloves Mandatory
In addition, your workers should be trained in the proper use of gloves. Whenever someone is preparing food in a commercial kitchen, they should be wearing gloves. Not only that, but they should change gloves frequently. New gloves should be worn each time the cooks switch from raw to cooked food, for example, and vice versa.
Far too many food service workers see gloves as magical shields that somehow render germs powerless, no matter what that person does with their hands. If you see staff members wearing gloves while scratching or touching their skin, and then handling food without changing the gloves, stop them. Retrain your staff as necessary.
Clean and Sanitize Equipment Daily
Of course, the equipment in the kitchen must also be cleaned and sanitized not just on the regular, but properly. Your https://www.foodsafetynews.com/restaurant-inspections-in-your-area/ may have specific requirements surrounding food sanitation, so make sure to ask.
In general, you won’t go wrong with hot, soapy water and/or commercial bleach. Wash down all dishes, prep containers, pots and pans, utensils, cooking surfaces, cutting boards, and countertops. Sweep and mop not just the kitchen proper, but also the coolers, freezers, and storage areas.
Set a Regular Deep Cleaning Schedule
It’s also a smart idea to set a firm schedule of how often the entire kitchen should be scrubbed down and cleaned out. Asking your employees to take care of heavy-duty cleaning “as needed” or “when they have down time” is asking for a dirty kitchen that will fail a health inspection.
During a deep clean, tackle the ovens, grills, fryers, and appliances. Don’t forget grease traps, range hoods, fans and vents, lighting fixtures, and the like.
Avoid Cross Contamination When Storing Food…
Raw meat and poultry should be kept entirely separate from their cooked counterparts. In addition, keep them away from vegetables, prepared sauces, rolls or bread, and any other foodstuff.
This practice ought to be a no-brainer. Anyone who’s ever watched even one episode of “Kitchen Nightmares” knows that raw chicken can’t be kept in a bucket with cooked steak. But you’d be surprised how many shortcuts busy kitchen staff will resort to!
The same policy of strict separation goes for knives, cutting boards, utensils, mixing and prep bowls, trays, storage containers, and thermometers. You must have separate prep and cooking tools and supplies for raw poultry, raw meat, raw seafood, cooked proteins, vegetables, and other foods.
Make Proper Food Storage a Priority
Do you understand how different types of food — dry vs. wet, hot vs. cold, vegetables vs. meats — must be stored? Do your employees? You can be certain that the health inspector does, so you should too.
Several factors must be taken into consideration when storing food. Ventilation is important, as is temperature. Container sizes, how those containers are sealed, and how food is rotated in and out of containers and storage areas are all crucial to safety in commercial kitchens.
Never store food directly on the floor, even if it’s in a box or bin. Never store meat on upper refrigerator or walk-in shelves, where it could potentially drip onto other ingredients underneath.
Make sure your employees understand and follow all protocols related to storage.
Follow the Rule of First In, First Out
Want to make certain that your ingredients are as safe as possible, while minimizing the amount of food you need to discard? Be strict about following a “FIFO” policy. FIFO stands for “First In, First Out.” It means that the oldest supplies should be used up first.
There are two super simple ways to accomplish this.
One is to label every box, bag, package or container with the date it arrived in your kitchen. Then, place it behind any existing stock of that same product or supply in the walk-in or on the shelves. That makes it easier for busy chefs to grab the oldest product first.
While FIFO might not be quite as exciting as YOLO or even BOGO, it will help your restaurant or commercial kitchen run more safely and efficiently.
Make Sure Storage Temperatures Are Right
According to the Food and Drug Administration, food should be keep at 41°F or below, while hot food needs to reach 135°F or above.
This is to ensure that harmful bacteria never gets a chance to grow. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator as well as in the freezer. The refrigerator should operate at 40°F or below, while the freezer temperature must be 0°F or below.
Cook All Food to Temp, Too
Similarly, cooking food to the proper temperature will also prevent food borne illness (as well as dishes returned to the kitchen for being undercooked!). Chicken must be cooked to 165°F. Ground beef, veal, lamb, and pork should reach 160°F. Train your cooks to use thermometers often, rather than relying on the look or feel of a dish to know if it’s thoroughly cooked.
Food Safety Tips Are Not Enough
We’ll be honest: these food safety tips are fairly elementary. Most home cooks understand them, and most of your workers probably know the basics of keeping things clean and sanitary, too.
In order to truly feel confident that your commercial kitchen or restaurant is in compliance with all necessary regulations and guidelines, contact us. We’ll be able to better assess your needs, and help you achieve compliance, by knowing more about your kitchen!
ISO or the International Organization for Standardization, develops and publishes world renowned international standards. It is comprised of one hundred and sixty four countries, which includes the United States. It’s a non-government related group that acts as a bridge between private companies and the public. ISO 22000 Certification is a certification that deals with food safety, and was derived from ISO 9000.
Technical committees are the ones who develop and create the standards. The committees are comprised of experts from different fields, such as the industrial, business, and technical sectors. They are also the ones who request for standards to be put in place.
All proposals for new technical committees must be submitted to any ISO national member body. The member body can choose to observe or participate in the process. The ISO secretariat is the one responsible for the nomination of an individual who will act as the technical committee’s chair person.
The standard provides the specific requirements for food safety management. It includes system management, prerequisite programs, HACCP principles, and interactive communication. Reviews on the aforementioned factors were studied by a lot of experts to come up with the standard. Each element was carefully researched to prove its importance in the standardized system.
ISO provides standardization certificates to almost every type of industry. Getting certified by the organization simply means that the business or establishment meets strict standardization requirements, and the products manufactured by the company are safe for public use or consumption. It also means that there are work processes in place, which make procedures and instructions clear for every process.
Most food chains and restaurants are eager to receive this kind of credential. Safety in food preparation and handling means that there is little to no risk of acquiring an illness through food intake. The standardization integrates HACCP or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system, and uses application steps which are created by the CAC or Codex Alimentarius Commission.
The food systems utilized are the most effective ones. These are launched, operated, and updated within the structured management system’s framework, they are also involved in the organization’s overall management programs. It can be used independently, or it can be used along with the company’s existing management systems. It is often the case that companies already have their own established systems prior to getting certified by ISO.
Getting an ISO accreditation ensures the public and the company’s partners, as well as their clients, that the standardized process is used to ensure proper business flow. This means that business hours are used appropriately and effectively, since there is an effective system in place. Employees can also expect speedy completion of tasks, since there are set instructions that can be easily understood and followed under any circumstances.
ISO 22000 Certification plays a big part in keeping the techniques and systems used in order. This allows for faster and more efficient production of goods. Not only that, it deals with keeping the establishment free from accidents caused by hazardous materials and improper work flows. Hazard analysis is key to maintaining successful food management.
SQF code or the Safe Quality Food code is the set of rules that govern the standardization of products that are distributed to consumers by food suppliers for the sake of safety and quality management. The certification program in place is tailored towards maximized consumer protection and regulation of all related trading activities. Meeting product requirements like safety, trace and quality within cost estimates is thus ensured to enable both parties to have a fair trading platform.
This was developed in 1994 from a harmonized agreement to produce a program that when implemented would be applicable in food industry as this is one of the most important components of an economy and far more sensitive. Experts in food safety, quality management, food processing, food regulation, food retailing, agricultural production systems, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point and food distribution came together and had a joint consensus to formulate these codes. Every participant in this industry is therefore strictly required to follow the rules and regulations.
In August 2003, the Food Marketing Institute acquired the rights to this program after which there was an establishment of the Institute Division to manage this program. The set standards meet the Global Food Safety Initiative due to the satisfaction of meeting the benchmark requirements. This has been incorporated by countries globally to govern the production and supply to industries.
The Technical Advisory Council is responsible for overseeing the necessary changes and makes reviews and recommendations. This must be in line with the contemporary requirements and expectations in the sector. Another important source of information to be used in decision making is the stakeholders who make comments on things that should be included; this makes their input very vital.
After the reviews have been made and the necessary amendments considered, there is a necessity for a date on which these changes are implemented and adjustments made. The official date for the making of amendments is the third anniversary date of a previous edition of the same document. This is usually done by the responsible panel that come together and make the amendments.
Situations may arise where an important amendment needs to be done before the three year amendment period passes. Is such a case, the amendment segment has to be included in the current edition as it may take too long to wait for a complete review cycle. This helps prevent loopholes in regulations which may lead to misuse of marketing rights.
Suppliers are required to make a prompt implementation of amendments within a period of six months of a posting of a new edition either on an official website or other media. A provision is given to all users to make a contribution by way of their views and changes that they want implemented. Address for delivery of such reviews is given to enable fast communication.
Knowledge of the SQF code is very important as it gives clear guidelines on the trade ethics that must be keenly followed by every participant in the industry. Failure to abide by these rules and regulations may call for strict legal action. The document has been scrutinized for any case of ambiguity to facilitate perfection, as it must be very comprehensive to cover every detail of this industry in an effort to cultivate healthy trading activities.
The kind of foodstuff that people eat on a daily basis must be keenly monitored and evaluated to be fit for consumption. Manufactured goods may not be fit for human consumption if some manufacturers do not produce products of required quality thus posing a risk to consumers. BRC food safety is a set of rules that govern the manufacture and packaging of products in a consumer environmentally friendly manner to enable sustainability of all foods.
Companies that are specialized in the production of foodstuffs are monitored to ensure that their food production meets requirements laid down to govern the manufacturers and the retailers in their line of work. The standard was introduced in 1998 and has now been adopted all over the world to thousands of locations in many countries across the globe. This has an important role to play in the economy as it protects the rights of consumers globally.
The British Retail Consortium is a leading trade association among many others in the United Kingdom that is concerned with representation of retailers ranging from small business to large chain stores, independently owned stores and larger departmental stores. This makes up around 80 percent of general retail trade in the United Kingdom. This consortium was formed in 1992 out of a merger between Association of Retailers and Retail consortium.
Facilitation of standardization of safety, quality, fulfillment of legal obligations and operational criteria are all provided in the best interest of consumers whose health must be considered and protected. The first edition was concerned with protocol for food suppliers and technical standards to be observed in manufacturing, packaging and distribution of products. This revolutionized the perception of customers and created awareness of their rights to high quality products and services.
There are several functions that are performed by the BRC and they should be known to consumers for the sake of general interest or for seeking legal action in any case there is a violation of the laid down rules and regulations. One important role is the voicing of rights of the retail industry to the government to ensure they work under the most favorable conditions. They therefore act as the bridge between the government and the retail industry.
Product areas including foods, consumer products and packaging have standards that have been set and must be complied with. Inspectors ensure that any exported products to the United Kingdom have met these requirements before being allowed in. Foodstuffs delivered to supermarkets are also certified before they are displayed on the shelves.
Another area of interest for the BRC is the storage and distribution of foodstuff which must also be done to the standards in order to ensure that no consumer is supplied with stale or damaged products. The interests of this industry are majorly based on price inflation, legislation, value added tax, confidence of consumers and sales. Each of these aspects and factors affecting the industry are considered.
BRC food safety is an important certification for all manufacturers in the foodstuff industry who are intending to meet certain standards. There are online guides that can be acquired and can be employed to comply to the rules and regulations. Strict penalty could be exacted on those companies which ignore these standards.