Why is food safety important?
Food safety and hygiene means taking the necessary precautions in order to ensure that food is fit for human consumption and does not create an environmental health hazard. There are significant legal, ethical and business reasons why food safety should be part of any restaurant or food service establishment’s overall approach to management and meeting quality standards:
- Food safety is subject to increasingly rigorous legislation around the world, making it an offence to serve food that is injurious to health or does not comply with safety requirements. Many countries have adopted the internationally-recognised system of food safety management called Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)1. This system identifies and monitors critical control points (CCP’s) at all stages of the food production and preparation process to ensure that food is safe for human consumption. Regardless of their size, businesses serving food should implement food safety management procedures based on HACCP principles.
- Businesses that do not comply with regulations or that cause illness or food-poisoning can be prosecuted and liable for fines or compensation claims2.
- Food safety is important for managing your insurance risk, retaining your license to operate and ensuring repeat business from customers.
- Some countries, notably in parts of the USA, the UK and in Denmark, have introduced ‘Scores on the Doors’ schemes whereby premises that serve food must display a scorecard or symbol indicating the level of their hygiene standards to consumers. Establishments that are judged to operate to high standards can gain a competitive advantage. Such schemes are popular with the public and are likely become more commonplace. Not only are restaurants now expected to provide special diets such as vegetarian, vegan, low-fat etc. but they also need to include information on menus about ingredients which could cause an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Recipes containing seafood, nuts and wheat gluten are potentially lethal for those who suffer from food allergies.
- Food wastage is reduced by not accepting produce in unfit condition or spoilage through poor stock management. The provision of food safety training and improvement in staff conditions can improve staff retention and loyalty.
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