Corporate kitchens are busy environments and the staff working finds squeezing food safety processes into their busy daily routines a common challenge. Maintaining quality and hygiene standards, managing food safety issues on top of preparing food, and serving customers often impedes the chefs, kitchen hands and waiting staff from filling out the mandatory food safety paperwork. It is during audits when hospitality managers realise how important these processes and records are to eventually pass the audit.
What is more, customers demand hospitality businesses to commit to high food safety standards to eliminate the risk of foodborne illness. Increasingly, food safety and quality issues damage the business’ reputation. Not living up to these expectations poses a significant business risk to restaurant or café owners.
The key is to implement a food safety plan that makes the business audit-ready every day.
Making sure that the business is audit-ready every day reduces costly mistakes, the risk of failing the audit and of suffering from reputation damage. Moreover, early and constant practice of implementing food safety process improvements gives your business the chance to build a food safety and quality strategy rather than reacting hectically in the run-up to the audit.
Food safety legislation and standards in New Zealand
The New Zealand Food Act 2014 administrated by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) is the governing legislation for food safety in New Zealand. In addition, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) develops a food standards code for Australia and New Zealand, which also covers food safety. All New Zealand food businesses must comply with these regulations and standards.
What is a food safety audit?
Food safety audits check if a food business complies with these regulations and standards. During a food safety audit, the auditor assesses the hospitality businesses’ food safety management system and checks if it is compliant with the most recent food safety regulations to make sure customers and staff are safe. They also check if the recorded data matches the businesses’ food safety procedures.
Government food safety bodies provide template(s) providing a framework for all food safety tasks and relevant data records. In New Zealand, the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has developed the Simply Safe & Suitable food safety plan template. New Zealand auditors commonly use this template to check if the food business is properly managing food safety.
How to prepare your business for a food safety audit
Preparing your business for an audit is an important and time-consuming project that cannot be done overnight. Any information on food safety processes that slips in the time between audits might cause significant problems when the audit happens. It is, therefore, essential to set up a food safety plan that is followed on a daily basis.
During the actual audit, each auditor will check whether all the following 7 food safety processes are implemented correctly, and all relevant food safety data is stored.
The 7 essential checks during the food safety audit
- Customer complaints and their investigation
- Staff training documents, training contents and training records
- CCP checks as well as cooling, reheating, and hot-holding reports
- Cabinet food checks reports
- Cold storage temperature checks
- Maintenance schedule visit records
- Temperature checks of delivery goods, i.e. chilled goods
The auditor will observe the food safety processes in action, ask questions and review records and documents. Ensure that the auditor can easily access all food safety data and that the whole team has a strong understanding of food safety and quality and can competently reflect the principles in their practices.
Finally, see the audit as a learning space that provides you with valuable feedback from an independent organisation on how to improve food safety, quality and improving the bottom line.
How to ensure that staff stick to the Food Safety Plan
The attitude of the whole team towards food safety plays an essential part in ensuring ongoing food safety compliance. Promoting food safety culture among staff facilitates on-time completion of all obligatory food safety tasks and the correct recording of data.
Regular training helps the team understand the importance of accurate documentation and the reasons for the implemented food safety processes. Regular internal audits are key to making sure that all processes are in place, every staff member is trained, and no data records are missing.
Digitising the Food Safety Plan increases staff commitment
Staff commitment to the food safety plan is key to enable the business to be audit-ready every day. However, busy kitchen staff might be reluctant to perform tedious manual monitoring and paperwork tasks. What is more, manual data entry errors might increase under pressure. Setting up an easy-to-use food safety plan with quick access to standard operating procedures (SOP’s) ensures that staff are using it correctly.
Digitising all food safety checklists, CCP, temperature and supplier checks, as well as training and maintenance records supports the whole team with their food safety management. In addition, remote fridge and freezer monitoring and Bluetooth probes that send the recorded data automatically to the cloud, free a significant amount of time that staff can use for other tasks.
Digitising the food safety processes minimises risk and food safety incidents. Moreover, it increases transparency significantly, as all food safety data is instantly accessible. Storing all data in one place enables you to easily generate reports to prove compliance, facilitating the compliance process.
With the help of iMonitor’s Food Safety Plan you can digitise your food safety management, saving time and money while easily ensuring ongoing compliance.