After all your hard work planning and prepping, finally opening your restaurant isn't the end of your job. Stay up-to-date on the latest food safety news to ensure the continued success of your restaurant and reputation of your brand.
One of the worst mistakes a restaurant can make, aside from not following food safety guidelines, is to allow management to grow stagnant. To succeed in the fast-paced world of the food industry, one must stay on top of the latest trends, regulations, and news. In addition to keeping an eye on reputable food safety resources for the latest news, managers also need to be ready and willing to make changes to their establishments to make use of their newfound knowledge.
Keeping up with the latest trends is probably the most fun, and it's certainly the most obvious part of your efforts, but anyone can follow trends. To truly prove yourself in the industry and to gain and keep the trust of your customers, you must concentrate equally on popular trends and food safety news. But how do you find the best food safety resources, and what kinds of information can you glean from then? Read on for our guide to finding the best food news.
The most obvious answer to this question is the internet. A quick search for "food safety news" will pull up a very long list of what search engines believe to be great news sources. It's not a bad way to go about finding a good source for your food and restaurant safety information, but you should be wary. Not all websites are created equal! If you aren't careful, you could find yourself wading through sites filled with pseudoscience and fake news, all designed to stir up panic. Some of their information may be based on verifiable facts, but those facts can often be muddied by underlying agendas and strong opinions. Try to temper those sites with opposing views, if that's the way you wish to spend your time. But most restaurant managers don't have the time to waste on pseudoscience and internet arguments. What you need is a trusted source. But how do you weed out the bad sites and find the good ones?
1. Look for similar stories.
Food safety information spreads like wildfire, and for good reason. Since everyone has to eat, when advances in food are discovered, people are quick to spread that news so everyone can be on the same page with safety. If you find some shocking "news" on one site, but can't find any others reporting the same Earth-shattering discovery, it's probably not true. Of course, there will always be a case of the first source to report something, but if it's true, it will usually spread very fast, sometimes within hours, and the facts won't change from site to site. Due diligence is your friend here, so take the time to research and find multiple sources before you make any sweeping changes to your food service business. Following the wrong food safety news could harm your reputation and your customers.
2. True news will always be backed by science.
One of the hallmarks of a great food safety resource is the use of links to verifiable sources. Reputable sites will quote studies and provide links for readers to check the details on their own. Follow those links and see for yourself where the facts are coming from. The FDA is a federal agency of the United States Department of Health, which means any news sites linking back to an FDA study is probably worth a read. Another good source is the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates meat from livestock, poultry, and some egg products.
3. Most reputable food safety news sources will cite official regulations.
When it comes to food regulations, there's no question what's legitimate and what's fake. If a news source mentions a particular food regulation, it's simple to verify that source. Be wary of sites that give a vague reference to regulation, but never mention which one.
Anything that has to do with food safety is worth your time, but certain subjects are higher on the list than others.
1. Bacterial outbreaks in supplies -
If you see a story regarding salmonella or other bacterial outbreaks in any products you carry, for example, take the time to read the article and check those sources. If the story seems legitimate, it's a good idea to check your logs to see if your products have come from the affected suppliers, so be sure to keep your purchase logs current. Even if the information is questionable, it's always better to be safe than sorry.
2. Local disease outbreaks -
Local news is a good source for this information, but do check with restaurant safety resources, too. While not always directly related to food safety, knowing what illnesses are prevalent in your area can help you enforce stronger contamination prevention practices with your staff, and can also help you identify sick patrons. We're not advocating refusing service to potentially sick patrons, but being aware of possible illnesses in your dining area can prompt a little extra care in table bussing.
3. New or updated food safety regulations and politics -
Whether the potential new regulation directly affects your establishment or not, it's always a good idea to stay informed. Something being discussed may not affect you now, but it can lead to other regulations down the line that do affect you. It's much better to be prepared ahead of time.
Checking news sources is one thing, but keeping track of the information you've gathered is just as important. You can do this by hand-writing what you find, printing article pages from the internet, or you can make your life easier by using software to keep track for you. The same productivity software you use to make checklists and log food temperatures can often be used to keep lists of relevant food safety news or to set reminders to look deeper into developing stories. Let technology work for you, keeping track of all your important food safety news, and leaving you more time to attend to the daily needs of your restaurant. We have some great information on food safety apps right here if you'd like more information.