My $250,000 Lesson in Food Safety
I had been managing a 20k square foot food manufacturing facility for 8 days when we were inspected and shut down by the local health department.
I was terrified when the inspectors arrived. What were they looking for? What would they discover that I was unaware of? This is a fear that many restaurant owners and food producers are familiar with.
I made 3 mistakes that closed our business for 4 days and cost the company $250k, excluding lost revenue.
Mistake #1: Everything is OK Because This is How We’ve Always Done It
My predecessor had twenty years experience managing food establishments. When I took over, I trusted everything was operating according to the regulations and maintained the same standard. Employees washed their hands, wore gloves, and we had a team of porters cleaning the space every night. No report of food poisoning was ever traced back to our operations.
So everything is OK, right? [winces and pushes these concerns into the back of your mind]
Mistake #2: It Is Not Our Responsibility
The fruit flies that settled on our ceiling hadn’t come from our space. They had been living in the building-wide compost bins, which was situated outside of our space, albeit directly under our kitchen. We had fly traps in place and we had written the building 2 emails about the problem already.
Food producers tell me the same thing about their suppliers: “It’s their responsibility to make sure there is no safety risk in the chicken/flour/produce/glassware they sell us.”
Really?! Would you bet a quarter million dollars and your business’ reputation on it?
Mistake #3: Food Safety is Complicated and Something I Can Ignore Until We Get Bigger
Ugh. I am really talented at avoiding things that seem daunting. Plus, food safety regulations are really long and boring.
So I covered my eyes and ears and sang to myself at the top of my lungs. I told myself I’d fix the problems when we had more resources and when we were big enough to matter.
Have you ever told yourself any of these things?
THERE IS GOOD NEWS: you don’t need to know everything about food safety to ace 3rd party audits, and scale operations to millions of dollars in sales. In fact, most food establishments only need to control 1-3 hazards.
I will teach you to achieve food safety excellence without changing your operations, incurring huge costs, or taking up your time.
What part of food safety worries you? Post in the comments.