High Profile Food Safety Issues Require New Thinking

By Michael Benedict on January 28, 2016

Food Service InspectionHardly a day goes by without yet another food establishment making the news for food safety issues and foodborne illness related issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year 48 million illnesses (15% of the population), 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths in this country can be traced to food bacteria, viruses and parasites.

How Does Food Supply Become Contaminated?

The food supply can become contaminated in a number of ways. First, while growing either in the ground or in the animal; second, during the food production process, other foodborne microbes can be introduced from either infected humans handling the food, or by cross-contamination from other agricultural products; and third, the way food is handled after it is processed e.g. it’s left out of the refrigerator too long.

Food establishments can help control, to a degree, how food is processed and handled. But they face some uphill battles in doing their best to control the quality of their food, given the dynamics of food service and food production.

What is the Extent of Food Safety Issues?

According to the National Restaurant Association, there are over 1 million establishments generating $709 billion in sales and employing a whopping 14 million people. Sales in 2015 finished their 6th consecutive year of growth. That’s the good news. The bad news (and this is nothing new) – the food industry has annual turnover rates of over 100%. That means a lot of new folks who may never have made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich are now cooking your cheeseburger…or involved in other food handling processes.

Everyone wants safe food, so what’s a solution to this? As a restaurant owner, you want to adhere to the highest food safety standards and avoid the possibility of food poisoning happening, among other issues. However, you face high turnover, and a Millennial workforce that can’t stop checking their mobile devices. Lost cause? No. Read on.

Mobile Forms Can Help Manage Food Safety

All people love their mobile devices, and a smart restaurant manager or food safety inspector will think way outside the box and get their cooks, food handlers and others to use those mobile devices to improve food safety practices. Mobile data collection has made the laborious and repetitive process of adhering to food safety standards much less painless and a lot more accountable. For example, you can download onto your employee’s mobile device any number of inspection apps, guidelines and other documents for them to complete. These can range from the basics such as a: Food Safety Audit Checklist; Managing Food Safety FIFO and Managing Food Safety Hazard Analysis, to the more specialized: Water Outage Safety Guideline for Food Facilities and HACCP SOP for Reheating Potentially Hazardous Foods.

You can have any of your current checklists, guidelines and food processing procedures turned into mobile apps that can be completed by your staff on their devices. All documents that are completed are stored in the cloud, can be integrated with backend software systems, and can be enriched with photos, date and time stamps and much, much more. Be more proactive about your food safety, and minimize the chance of dealing with foodborne illnesses, by leveraging mobile apps. Be sure to check Canvas’s popular Food Production HACCP apps.