June 23, 2014
It sounded like a headline from the satirical newspaper The Onion - Possible Food Poisoning Sickens 100 At Food Safety Summit - but it was true. Making sure the food you serve, be it from a food truck, at a restaurant/cafe, or a product you sell wholesale or direct-to-consumers, should be the top concern of all food business entrepreneurs. One mistake can have a huge impact on your business and potentially destroy everything you’ve been working so hard to build.
So what steps can you take to make sure your products are as safe as possible?
1. Evaluate your current procedures for risk. Where might something go wrong and possibly become contaminated? Once you identify those areas, what can be done to minimize those risks?
2. Develop written food safety procedures and make sure that is communicated to all employees.
3. Develop record keeping that keeps track of vital food safety information such as an on-going record of the temperatures of your fridges and freezer space.
4. If you’re working in a shared kitchen space or kitchen incubator, ask yourself whether or not you feel like the facility is being proactive about making sure the work environment is void of contaminants. Remember, someone else may be working on your table when you’re not there (for example) – are you comfortable that the table is being sufficiently cleaned before you start using it? What additional steps might you need to take to make sure your work station is safe? Can you work with your kitchen facilities management to improve overall safe food conditions?
5. Know where you’re getting your ingredients from. Getting your ingredients from local producers can be a great aspect of what differentiates your business and your product – but you want to make sure that the ingredients you’re getting are safe. Ask your ingredient vendors for information about their food safety programs.
6. Keep your receipts and, if applicable, a record of all ingredient batch numbers that you can quickly reference if an ingredient vendor issues a product recall.
7. Constantly review your procedures, programs, and vendor relationships so that you are always confident that what you’re putting your brand on and selling is the very best – and safest – it can be.