Major Components of Food Safety Programs for Restaurants, Manufacturers, and Distributors

In the US each year, there are an estimated 76 million cases of foodborne illness resulting in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths, according to the Center for Disease Control. For restaurants, food manufacturers and distributors, food safety should be the highest priority and concern in the business.

Safety Training for California Restaurants Guide

A good food safety program that involves employee education, training, and incentives will keep your business free from bad PR and expensive lawsuits. Plus it can raise employee morale and retention while reducing turnover.

Implementing a program can be an involved and time-consuming process depending on the type of business you run, but is well worth the effort as lawsuits from foodborne illnesses can run into millions of dollars.

What are the components of a good food safety training program?

1. Employees must understand why food safety procedures are important. If they understand the “why” behind the training they are more likely to embrace the program. Preventing illness and death, company profits, staying in business, maintaining reputation, pride in quality, and retaining jobs are all reasons that hit home.

2. Personal hygiene component. It can be embarrassing for an employer and employees to discuss personal hygiene, but this is one of the most important parts of food safety and the most basic. If employees do not follow personal hygiene procedures seriously, there is little hope of them following more complex food safety requirements.

3. Cleaning and Sanitizing. Food safety revolves around cleaning and sanitizing properly and avoiding cross contact with dangerous foods. Your program should focus on the proper techniques for sanitizing equipment and materials. In your training you should cover the proper cleaning of produce and other food stuffs as well as how to disassemble equipment and clean it properly. You should also develop a customized cleaning schedule to make sure it is done on a regular basis.

4. Cross-Contamination. A good food safety training program will emphasize the importance of proper food storage to prevent cross-contamination. Make sure to identify the dangerous foods that may cause allergies or foods prone to carry bacteria. Employees should understand which foods can cause a danger to others and how to keep them safely separated.

Prevent Foodborne Illness, Cross-Contamination and Lawsuits

5. Food Storage. components of food safety programsDevelop a system to rotate stock and use older stock first. Label and mark all shipments with date, time, and supplier. Your employees should understand and adhere to the procedures to ensure foods do not become spoiled. If food does become spoiled, employees should know how to handle it. Also, if there is a recall, they should be able to quickly identify the problem item based on the system you develop.

6. Pest Control and Toxic Chemicals. You need to keep your business rodent and pest free, but also be aware of what chemicals are being used at the same time. Your food safety training program should include proper cleanup and garbage removal procedures as well as how to handle, store and apply chemicals. The last think you want is for toxic chemicals to find a way into your food!

7. Food Temperatures. All employees must know the proper temperatures prepare, store, and thaw foods to prevent harmful bacteria growth. They should memorize the danger zone and the understand how reheating and cooling food can be dangerous. They should also know the proper way to use a thermometer to check food temperatures.

8. Emergency Situations. While it is impossible to foresee and prepare for every possible emergency, consider the most likely problems and train employees how to handle them. What would happen if a sewer backed up? If refrigeration failed? If pest control chemicals spilled into a vat while there was a huge order being prepared under a tight deadline? If a shipment was rotten or contaminated and there was no other supplier? By using what if scenarios and asking your employees how they would react, you are preparing them to think properly in the event of an emergency. It can also help you identify possible leadership. Always stress food safety as a result of their emergency actions.

If you have a food business in California and would like a copy of our food safety checklist, contact Invensure at (800) 331-4700. We insure food businesses and help implement safety and OSHA compliance measures in order to reduce liability and control the cost of risk.

OSHA Compliance & Safety Checklists for Restaurants

It is exciting to announce that we have completed our restaurant safety and OSHA compliance checklists and are now offering this program to our clients.

Safety Checklist for California Restaurant Insurance ProgramWe don’t just quote insurance and this is proof. What we provide is a valuable service that is beyond what other local insurance brokers do.

Just last week we did an OSHA compliance review with one of our restaurant owners and found violations that would have cost him $11,800 in fines if an inspector came in. We helped him correct the errors and helped him save $11,800.

Not only did we save him the amount of money a fine would cost him, we also helped reduce his workers’ compensation rates by doing the service as well. Invensure offers a complete, holistic approach to risk management that is more than just insurance.

Not only does Invensure provide the right protection for when somethings, we also help to prevent problems and reduce your overall cost of risk.

If you have questions about how we can help with your restaurant safety and insurance in Southern California, call (800) 331-4700.

Food Safety for Restaurants: How to Prevent Foodborne Illness, Cross Contamination, and Lawsuits

Foodborne illness causes an estimated 47.8 million sicknesses and about 3,000 deaths annually in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2011, an outbreak of a foodborne illness from Listeria-contaminated cantaloupe took at least 13 lives.

Restaurants and their employees are responsible for the safety of their dishes and the health and safety of their customers.

If someone gets sick from eating food prepared
in your restaurant, you could:

Foodborne illness can be prevented with a food safety program

  • Be sued
  • Be found liable in a lawsuit
  • Be responsible for the medical costs
  • Be responsible for monetary settlements, which have amounted
    to millions of dollars in several wrongful death cases
  • Destroy the reputation of your business
  • Lose your business
  • Have to file bankruptcy

Download a copy of this report

Common causes of foodborne illness

Reasons people become infected is because of bacteria growth, improper food storage, improper food prep hygiene, cross contamination, undercooked meat, and infected prep workers transmitting illness to the consumer.

The CDC estimates that 9.4 million of annual illnesses are caused by 31 known foodborne pathogens, and that 90% of all illnesses due to known pathogens are caused by: Salmonella, norovirus, Campylobacter, Toxoplasma, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria and Clostridium perfringens.

How to prevent food contamination and
foodborne illnesses in your restaurant

It all starts with your supplier

Once food has been contaminated, there is no way to change that. If you purchase produce from a farm and it has e. coli bacteria, you will transmit that to your customers. You could be found liable for serving the tainted food.

Do your homework when choosing your suppliers. Choose reputable distributors and make sure you are receiving good quality, fresh food items. Ask questions about the safety mechanisms they have in place to prevent contamination.

Develop a system to quickly identify all inventory from a particular supplier, so if one supplier has a recall, you can quickly deal with it and keep business moving at the same time.

Keep cold foods cold until ready to use
You must keep frozen food frozen and cold food below 41 degrees through the transportation and storage process. If food that needs refrigeration is left above 41 degrees for more than four hours, there is a high risk of foodborne illness caused by bacterial growth.

Make sure your suppliers follow the cold chain and once the items are in your facility, use strict measures to ensure they are refrigerated immediately and all fridges and freezers are operating at the proper temperatures. The less time foods are at temperatures above 41 degrees, the less opportunity for bacteria to grow.

Foods must be cooked to proper temperatures

Safe food temperatures to prevent harmful bacteria growth and foodborne illness

This is a general guide to safe food temperatures to prevent harmful bacteria growth and foodborne illness

Always use a meat thermometer to make sure that food has been cooked to a safe temperature. Food that does not reach a safe temperature can allow bacteria to breed and cause illness.
Put the thermometer into the thickest part of the cut to make sure it has cooked all the way through. Do not allow it to touch the bone as this will give an incorrect temperature. The temperatures on this chart must be maintained for at least 15 seconds to kill harmful bacteria.

About microwave cooking

Microwaves tend to cook food unevenly. Stir food while it is cooking and leave it covered for two minutes after it is done. This will ensure the even distribution of heat to destroy bacteria in colder spots.

Cross-contamination is the leading cause of foodborne illness

Cross contamination occurs when bacteria is transferred from one food item to another via work surface, improper storage, thawing, preparation, or the cooking process.

  • Use separate knives for poultry, meats, and produce.
  • Use separate cutting boards for meats, poultry, and produce.
  • Never put cooked food onto a plate or tray that has
    been used for raw foods.
  • Use high heat for sterilization when washing dishes that have come in contact with raw foods.
  • Wash all foods well before preparing.
  • Wash hands with anti-bacterial soap frequently during the cooking process. Do not handle coked food after handling raw food without washing hands first or changing gloves.
  • Do not use the same utensils for cooked and raw foods.

Employee food safety training is the law in California

Washing hands can help prevent cross contaminationAll your employees need to get their California Food Handler Cards. Not only is it the law in California as of January 1, 2012, it is an essential overview of food safety and a good learning opportunity for employees new to the industry or younger workers.

Once employees are trained and have their cards, there is no excuse for them not working in the safest, cleanest manner possible. Make sure your employees know that food safety is a priority in your restaurant and quality standards must be maintained at all times.

How to protect yourself when all else fails

Even the most careful food suppliers, chefs, and restaurants can still have instances of food contamination and resulting illness. You can do everything in your power to run a clean, safe kitchen, but there is always the chance that something outside of your control can happen.

Work with an expert to get a good restaurant insurance policy that is tailored to your facility. It is important to work with someone who knows the industry well and understands how your restaurant is unique. A restaurant insurance specialist can help identify the risks and advise the best protection for your situation.

Restaurant insurance coverages that can help protect you

Food contamination coverage: Covers you financially in the event of food poisoning or communicable diseases transmitted by an employee.

Food product liability coverage: If you are producing goods for sale, this can protect you in the event that your food product causes harm to the user.

Food spoilage coverage:
If your refrigeration breaks down or your power goes out, the spoil food can be replaced if you have this coverage.

Food product recall coverage: If the food products you sell are recalled, your expenses that result will be covered, such as the cost to notify consumers, shipping and disposal of the product, refunding the customer, and more.

If you have questions or need assistance,
restaurant insurance experts are here to help.
Call (800) 331-4700

How to Increase Your Restaurant’s Profitability with a Good Prevention Plan

Attention all Restaurant Owners and Managers:
Increase Your Restaurant’s Profitability with a Good Prevention Plan

Running a successful restaurant is a balancing act of hiring the right employees, keeping a consistent supply of quality, fresh food, and drawing a steady crowd of hungry customers. Aside from the obvious, there are additional items you can adjust in your operations to help increase your profits.

Review Your Fixed Expenses
It may seem that you have less control over these items, but it may be more important to your bottom line than you think. In the arena of litigation, risk management, safety, and insurance expenses, you have a lot of control and your diligence and actions can make the difference between a profitable restaurant and a bankrupt one.

Beware the Salad BarSalad bars are a liability and result in higher restaurant insurance premiums
While many customers may compliment the variety and freshness of the items in your salad bar, you should be aware that your salad bar is a huge liability. Thousands of slip and fall accidents occur every year because of salad bars and some result in lawsuits and higher insurance premiums.

Slip and fall accidents are the number one cause of accidents in restaurants and the number two cause of workers’ compensation liability claims. Most slip and fall accidents are easily preventable when proper procedures are in place.

If you don’t want a customer to take a header in your establishment and sue you for their injuries, reconsider the salad bar. If it must stay, implement strict employee procedures to monitor the area and keep the floors around it debris free and dry at all times. Install non-slip mats or surfaces. Those tomato slices may look beautiful on a plate, but when a customer slips on one and sues, you are the one who will be seeing red.

Employee Safety Training Pays For Itself

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “for every $1 spent in safety programs, businesses can save between $4 to $6 from costs associated with injuries and fatalities.”

Because the cost of your workers’ compensation rate is directly affected by the number and severity of claims, a good safety program is the first step in lowering the cost of your workers compensation premium. One out of 20 employment related injuries occur at eating and drinking establishments, and the most common injuries are cuts, burns, strains, and eye injuries.

Make sure all employees are trained in the proper safety measures of handling knives and power equipment. Make sure equipment is in good working order and properly guarded.

Save on Restaurant Insurance with Fire Prevention Measures
Restaurants have a high risk of firesThere are thousands of restaurant fires each year, and cooking equipment is the cause of half of all fires in restaurants. Restaurant fires are particularly dangerous because the number of patrons and workers who are exposed to potential fire danger.

Insurance companies are well aware of the risk fire imposes in restaurants, but did you know that you will get better rates if you comply with certain safety measures? A sprinkler system will help decrease the amount you pay for fire insurance as well as reduce damage when it’s really needed. The average loss for a fire with a sprinkler system was $6,500, compared to $18,800 for those without a automatic suppression system, according to NFPA Fire Analysis and Research.

Maintain a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule in your kitchen. Some carriers will give you credit for regular maintenance, cleaning and/or removing grease from your hoods, flues and chimneys because it helps to prevent fires.

Additionally, when considering fire safety, keep fire extinguishers charged and accessible, and make sure employees are trained how to use them.

Your Location is a Factor in Saving as Well as Making Money

Anyone who has studied business understands how important location is to the success of a business, but did you know your neighbors have an influence on your insurance premium? If your restaurant is near a business with potential hazards, such as a woodworking or chemical facility, your insurance will be higher than if you have general offices nearby. Choose your location wisely.

The Moral of the Story
Finding ways to save on your fixed expenses can help increase your bottom line. A good prevention plan that includes safety measures can not only reduce the cost of your insurance premium, it can also prevent problems and increase employee morale. Implement a good prevention plan that includes keeping your establishment clean and tidy, training employees in safety, and keeping your fire protection up to code, you are on the way to an accident-free workplace with low restaurant insurance rates!

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Invensure offers specialty insurance and safety services for restaurants.

Call (800) 331-4700 to sign up or learn more about the restaurant insurance program.

California Food Handler Card: Law SB 602 Requires Food Safety Training

Starting in June of 2011, California law SB 602 began to require that all restaurant food handlers take a food safety training course and pass a test. Once the test is passed, they would receive a California Food Handler Card. The questions that beg to be asked are: How many restaurant owners know about this law? How many restaurant “food handlers” have these cards? The answer is not very many.

California Food Handler Card

Food handlers in California restaurants are required by law to have a California Food Handler Card

In case if you didn’t know, here is an overview:

In California, people who prepare, serve, or store food for a restaurant are required to have a California Food Handler Card. Within 30 days of being hired, a food handler must take a certified food safety course and pass a test with a score of 70% or higher.

The law does not apply to food handlers in Riverside, San Bernardino, or San Diego counties, but the cards are required in the rest of the state of California. The counties mentioned above have more specific laws regarding this issue.

Once the employee receives the card, they are to make a copy of the card and give it to the employer. In turn, the employer is required to keep records of all employees and ensure their cards are up to date. This is required by law.

Health inspectors enforce the law and they will ask for the records during an inspection.

For the fill text of SB 602, click here.

The classes are inexpensive, the law says that there must be at least one course that costs no more than $15, and the law caps fees at $60 for testing and certificate to ensure affordability for food handlers. The law does not specify if the employer or employee is responsible for the cost of testing and food safety certification.

Apparently, there is another bill in the works, SB 303, that will clarify the message of the first bill.

Stay tuned. If you want to receive updates on the subject, sign up for our RSS feed.

Restaurant Server Allowed Workers’ Compensation Although Positive for Drugs

In the news this morning, Feb. 3, 2012, Business announced the results of a court finding regarding this case.

The court case, Deloris K. Stenson vs. Pat’s of Henderson Seafood, originated in 2008. Ms. Stenson tripped over a box of potatoes in the food prep area and broke her wrist. She went to the emergency room for the injury, and while she was there, they tested her for drugs.

Workers Compensation Claims can be expensive to an employer. Do you know how to prevent them?

Workers Compensation Claims can be expensive to an employer. Do you know how to prevent them?

Because the test result was positive for Xanax and marijuana, her insurer and the employer only paid for the emergency room bill and denied all other benefits.

However in court, the judge determined that the accident was not caused by intoxication. Ms. Stenson was awarded all temporary disability benefits and medical care.

Here is some of how the court determined their decision:

“Based on the testimony that Stenson had performed her job all morning without complaints from the customers or any other staff members and that she had smoked marijuana four days prior to the accident, not on the day of the accident, we cannot say that the WCJ was manifestly erroneous in finding that Stenson had overcome the presumption of intoxication,” according to the appeals court.

“Furthermore, we agree with the workers comp judge that the accident was not of the nature that any intoxication was a contributing cause,” the appeals court continued. “Boxes of potatoes were left on the floor in front of the microwave in the ‘prep area’ where Stenson and other employees were required to go in the course of their duties. No one testified that Stenson appeared intoxicated at the time of the accident. Thus, the judge’s findings are supported by the record.”

Restaurant Safety Tips to Lower your Workers’ Compensation Premiums

There are certain types of injuries that are common to restaurants and the food industry. If someone is injured and Workers’ Compensation Insurance handles the claim, the cost of your premium may go up.

In order to keep your Workers’ Compensation insurance premiums as low as possible, it is a good idea to develop a safety plan for your restaurant and train all employees in safe practices.

Here are some common injuries in restaurants and what you can do to prevent them.

Preventing slips, trips, and falls.

  • Mop up spills right away
  • Clean up dropped ice immediately
  • Put caution signs on wet floors
  • Put non-slip matting in areas that are constantly wet
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes

Rushing around in a busy restaurant can lead to avoidable accidents.

  • Slow down when you are entering swinging doors
  • Be extra careful around blind corners
  • Windows in doors, carefully placed mirrors, and a system to announce “coming in” or “coming out” can prevent unnecessary collisions
  • Keep walkways clear at all times
  • Don’t carry too many items that may block your view.

Burns are very common in the restaurant business.

  • Carry hot plates with trays, hot pads, or dry cloths
  • Provide safety training for hot beverage machines and other heated equipment

Cuts from sharp objects can be prevented.

  • Clean up broken dishes with a broom immediately. Do not use your hands
  • Be careful while washing dishes, there may be broken glassware or knives hidden beneath objects
  • Train employees to NEVER leave knives or broken glasses in the sink

Strains and sprains can be prevented by following some ergonomic advice and never overloading yourself.

  • Making multiple trips instead of carrying everything at one time
  • Carry heavy loads at waist height
  • Carry full coffee pots and pitchers with two hands
  • Hold heavy objects close to your body a with straight wrists
  • Don’t reach too far. Walk around the table to serve and keep commonly used items off the top shelf
  • Use neutral posture and vary your positions and tasks frequently.
  • Stretch and briefly rest every 15-20 minutes

Preventing violence in the workplace.

  • Learn how to handle customers and complaints calmly
  • Keep the cash register closed
  • Limit cash in the restaurant
  • Keep back doors closed and locked at all times
  • Develop and train employees in a safety action plan for robberies or violence

By implementing a good safety program, you can lower your Workers’ Compensation rates. If you have any questions, speak to an industry insurance specialist at (949) 756-4100.

Restaurant Workplace Liability: Slips, Trips, and Falls

In the restaurant and food industry in Southern California, slip, trip and fall injuries are some of the most common Workers’ Compensation claims.

According to OSHA, “Slips, trips, and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents. They cause 15% of all accidental deaths, and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities.”

Employers are responsible for the safety and health of their employees. In addition to OSHA requirements, employers who follow a good safety program will benefit from the reduction in the cost of their workers’ compensation insurance premiums over time.

To help prevent slip, trip, and fall injuries, OSHA requires that restaurants do the following:

  • Keep all places of employment clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition [1910.22(a)(1)].
  • Keep floors clean and dry [1910.22(a)(2)]. In addition to being a slip hazard, continually wet surfaces promote the growth of mold, fungi, and bacteria that can cause infections.
  • Provide warning signs for wet floor areas [1910.145(c)(2)].

Invensure offers industry specific safety programs and insurance for the food industry and restaurants in California. There is a special Workers’ Compensation Cost Reduction Program specifically geared to the food industry that is designed to lower risk and associated costs.

Call (800) 331-4700 to learn more.

How to Save Money on Workers’ Compensation Insurance for Restaurants: Safety Programs

Did you know that for all employment related injuries and illnesses that occur worldwide, one out of 20 occur at eating and drinking establishments?

The 4 most common injuries at restaurants include: cust, burns, strains, and eye injuries. Because of frequent contact with knives, slicers, and broken dishes and glasses, restaurant staff are prone to cuts and lacerations.

The second most common injuries at restaurants are burns, for obvious reasons. Approximately one-third of all job-related burns occur in restaurants.

Sprains and strains are next on the list of injuries to restaurant workers. Overreaching, trips and falls, hard-to-reach items, and improper lifting are the major causes of this type of injury.

Eye injuries are the fourth most common injury in restaurants because of splashes from grease or cleaning agents.

According to studies from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “for every $1 spent in safety programs, businesses can save between $4 to $6 from costs associated with injuries and fatalities.”

Because the cost of your workers’ compensation is directly affected by the number and severity of claims, a good safety program is the first step in lowering the cost of your workers compensation premium.

Invensure offers safety training programs for restaurants as a part of our complete risk management and insurance service. Call (949) 756-4100 and ask for Vicki, our restaurant specialist, to learn more about the program.

Restaurant Safety for Young Workers

There are special rules for teen workers employed in restaurants. Are you familiar with them?

OSHA has an e-Tool on their website to help teen workers learn how to be safe on the job at a restaurant: