Emphasizing food safety in your restaurant is a frustrating chore for management. No matter how tedious, keeping up with regulations is not optional.
Any restaurant must adapt to change, from ingredient availability to up-and-coming trends. However, the past couple of years have truly put a restaurant’s ability to train new staff and develop a kitchen culture that encourages retention to the test.
One of the most significant downsides of high turnover in the food world is having to teach food safety standards to each person who comes through the door. Unfortunately, not everyone entering the kitchen places extreme importance on cleanliness. Let’s go over a few tips for emphasizing food safety in your restaurant and creating a health-focused culture in your kitchen.
Start With Visual Language
We need to stay realistic about what new kitchen staff members and servers are walking into. For many, this is their first time in the food industry. While giving a tour and verbal instruction on your food safety expectations is important, visual cues make it easier to retain that information or find clues for the pieces they forgot.
For example, leaving laminated posters or reminders around the workplace can help significantly. Color coding your items also helps staff uphold food safety procedures without having to really think about it. Even stickers labeled “use first” can make a world of difference.
Practice What You Preach
An easy way to convince your staff not to follow your food safety program is to not follow it yourself. Your actions as a kitchen manager or chef tell staff what they can get away with. Team members reflect the attitude you put into the work, so if you seem lax about food safety on your own shift, you create a restaurant culture that is lax about food safety on every shift.
Don’t Just Tell, Teach
If you recall what the basic food handling program is like, you remember that it’s a lot of droning on and wondering when it ends. That is the food safety context new workers bring with them. If you run them through your restaurant’s food safety standards without giving context to how important they are, it’s just another day of droning instruction.
Take this opportunity to get passionate about why food safety matters. Talk about the relationship and trust between customers and food handlers and the reasoning behind every rule. It may not work with every team member, but your honesty and investment in helping them learn can inspire many to act.
As we take our first steps into the new year, likely with some new staff on board, it’s time to think about what we can do to keep the ever-changing restaurant environment safe. Emphasizing food safety in your restaurant is, for better or worse, an ongoing project for most owners and managers. With the right tools, regular reminders, and a culture that balances the no-nonsense nature of regulations with a more personal connection to the food we make, it’s possible to create a team that genuinely cares about food safety.