Safe Food Handling | Tips for Leveraging Your Technological Advantage
The safe handling of food is one of the single most important components of running a successful restaurant. It can be a daunting task to enforce new, safe food handling techniques, but it is necessary in order to remain wholly compliant with important health regulations and the FDA. Doing so involves plenty of behavioral changing beyond simply washing hands before and after coming in contact with food, and for some employees, this has the potential to be a bit overwhelming.
In spite of this, it is a vital component to restaurant success and one that should not be taken lightly. So how do you, the owner/manager/administrator, manage to promote these new behaviors in a way that guarantees their proper execution? The easiest way is sitting right in front of you, possibly in your hands, as you read this post - there's an app for that!
Ok, so maybe the app isn't specifically for winning over employees with new, safe food handling techniques. What it is for, however, is enabling employees to experience a greater degree of accountability and, as a result, motivation to commit to these new methods and practices. The app is called Zip HACCP, by Hubworks.
What Are These Behaviors?
Okay, so before we get into what the app does, we need to take a second to assess exactly which behaviors are involved in safe food handling and which are most likely to require adjustments by your staff to meet HACCP standards. Some of them are super obvious, some less so, but by the end of this article, you should have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done to improve the consistency of these techniques in your restaurant.
This isn't the cleanliness that refers to showering every day. Here we're talking about making sure that the kitchen and its associated workstations are pristine by the time you leave for the night, and consistently cleaned throughout the day, especially after raw meat and other potentially bacteria heavy foods come into contact with it. You don't need to wash your knife every time you cut a chicken breast, but you should take care to make sure that the raw meat knife does not at any point come in contact with any of the cooked food being prepared in the kitchen. This may mean designating a single portion of the kitchen for the preparation of raw meat, which sounds inconvenient but can save you a world of trouble in the long run.
2. Storage Practices
Proper storage can mean a range of different things, including designating an entire freezer for raw meat (something you should probably be doing already) to creating a complex organization system for your freezers and refrigerators. Whichever option you decide to go with, maintaining the appropriate temperatures and storage conditions for the different kinds of food in your restaurant is paramount and superseded only by the need for overall up to par cleanliness.
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How an App Can Motivate Beneficial Changes
Now that we've taken a look at a small selection of the behavioral changes that will need to take place for your restaurant to truly be performing safe food handling procedures, it's time to look at the role that a restaurant management app, in this case, Zip HACCP, can have on motivating this change. It is important to note, from the outset, that the app's main benefit to your team will come more in the form of motivation and accountability than in straight instruction. As such, it will be on you as manager/owner/administrator to instruct team members on these new techniques and how they ought to be carried out.
The single most prominent feature of Zip HACCP is its checklist making ability. These lists, as we've discussed in the past, have the potential to be fully customizable on every level, which can work wonders for generating lists, not just for the execution of these new procedures, but also their training. A list could be created to mark progress on a training course, or to simply mark milestones made during the process of transitioning to a new organization system. Since these lists are accessible within the app itself, by anyone with the appropriate access, they're a good way to foster a sense of community within the staff as well.
What else can these lists do? Well, they're an excellent way to manage new systems of organization for storage purposes. With the Zip HACCP checklists, you can now establish which items go in which freezer, refrigerator, or cabinet, and have employees check off that these items have been stocked in the appropriate location. It's an excellent way to improve accountability when it comes to safe food handling on the storage front for sure.
Speaking of accountability - because the lists are available for everyone on the staff to see, and in an easy to maneuver electronic format no less, each employee will be forced to own, on a level unseen previously, that they didn't do their part. It sounds harsh to say, but on a psychological level, it makes sense. When before an employee could simply shrug something off and chalk it up to nobody will notice anyway, now they'll be confronted with the fact that not only will everyone notice, but management will know exactly who it was that didn't do what they were supposed to. Pressure like this does often act as motivation enough to ensure people do their due diligence, and this is no different.
We hope you've found this little jaunt through the ways you can leverage your business' technological advantage to improve safe food handling at your restaurant useful.
While you're here, and for more information and tips on how to improve your food safety procedures, check out The Definitive Guide to HACCP and Food Safety | 7 HACCP Principles article also on our blog.