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With each passing year of the 21st century, the restaurant cold chain continues to grow in new directions. Compared to 20 years ago, It’s less linear (similar to a chain) and more branching (resembling a tree). Plus, there are more touchpoints and more individual players involved. One significant reason for these developments is changing consumer tastes, in both food and service.
With the rise of the organic movement, customers want fresh, local ingredients which means more farms to deal with, new transportation routes to cover, and greater care needed to keep perishable foods in the right temperature zones. Simultaneously, the consumer desire for greater convenience has blossomed into a novel variety of takeout, eat-in and delivery options – everything from kiosks and self-service to Grubhub and meal kits.
The consequence of all this innovation is, of course, that food safety is more important than ever before. Any restaurant that uses romaine lettuce knows this all too well. But there’s nothing to fear. What’s needed is better vigilance.
Fortunately, there are proven tools available that help restaurant management take better control of food safety protocols. In this post, we look at one such tool, an FSMS, or food safety management system. An FSMS can not only help ensure safety compliance, but also improve the quality of your product, and therefore increase customer confidence and satisfaction, and ultimately profits.
An FSMS is a network of three components working together to ensure that food doesn’t cause unfavorable human health effects:
According to the FDA, an effective FSMS should include the following elements:
The benefits of investing in an FSMS far exceed any costs to implement one. These include:
And of course, an FSMS will undoubtedly save you time and money.
If you need any further convincing about the value of an FSMS, check out the results of a recent FDA Retail Food Risk Factor study. In a nutshell, the main finding of the study was that restaurants with a well-developed FSMS had less than half as many risk factors and food safety practices out of compliance than restaurants lacking an FSMS. In fact, an inadequate FSMS was the strongest predictor of compliance oversights for both fast-food and full-service restaurants.
All this talk about standards, compliance, and protocols might sound overwhelming if you’re new to food safety management. Implementing an FSMS need not be daunting if you break the process down into 7 easy steps. Here’s a brief outline of what’s involved:
Perhaps the most important rule for establishing a successful FSMS is the buy-in from senior management and their commitment to developing, implementing, maintaining and improving the system. True, an effective FSMS will require an investment of time, money, and effort. Yet the knowledge that your organization has made the best effort to meet all food safety standards and regulations to protect the health of your customers is priceless.
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