Reducing Food Safety Errors and Violations

The importance of Leadership, Incident Reporting, and Error Management

By Priyanko Guchait, PhD Associate Professor Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, University of Houston | April 21, 2019

Restaurants are associated with 50% of all foodborne illness outbreaks each year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2015 ). Moreover, due to lifestyle changes, increasing numbers of people in westernized countries, such as the United States, eat in restaurants.

The most common risk factors that affect food safety in all food and beverage establishments are well documented as follows: failure to cook food correctly; failure to hold food at the right temperature; poor personal hygiene, contaminated equipment, chemical storage, and the use of food from unsafe sources (United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2009 ). Moreover, handling food by a sick employee (65%) and bare-hand contact with food (35%) were the most commonly identified contributing factors. The food service industry has interventions in place to ensure the safety of food; however, human errors are often the underlying cause of foodborne illness outbreaks.

For instance, in order to hold hot food at the correct temperature (135°F), a calibrated thermometer at a holding station does the job. If a restaurant employee notices that the thermometer reads 125°F and does not report it to his/her manager, then the possibility of a customer becoming sick increases as the food becomes time- and temperature-abused. Similarly, if a sick employee does not follow protocol and comes to work sick, there is a heightened possibility that his/her co-workers and restaurant patrons will contract the illness.

Food safety related errors in restaurants have been shown to be of significance during post-outbreak analysis by the health department (according to health inspection reports). For instance, during the 2015 Chipotle outbreak, investigators found that on multiple occasions employees came to work sick which led to their co-workers and customers becoming ill. Similarly, previous health inspection reports showed that food was time- and temperature-abused (i.e. not cooked to and/or held at the correct temperature), the restaurant facilities were not well maintained and cleaned in a timely manner, and foods were obtained from unapproved suppliers.

Food service establishments and restaurants play a significant responsibility in preventing foodborne illnesses. Though absolute food safety is most likely unattainable, the foodservice industry should continually strive for this goal while maintaining quality. In general, food handler training is seen as one strategy whereby food safety can be increased, offering long-term benefits to the food industry as a whole.

However, current knowledge-based training may not be enough to ensure or change certain safety behaviors. Theoretically, knowledge alone is insufficient to trigger preventive practices. Often, there is no relationship between the knowledge level of staff and their premises' inspection rating.

Choose a Social Network!

The social network you are looking for is not available.

Close

Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

Michael Waddell
Cristine Henderson
Douglas Aurand
Mark Ricketts
Mike Handelsman
Kelly McGuire
Pete Pearson
Gini Dietrich
David Chitlik
Michael Koethner
Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.