“Foodborne illness is a common, costly—yet preventable—public health problem. Each year, one in six Americans get sick from contaminated foods or beverages; 3,000 die.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Back in October, the restaurant world was rocked by major food contamination news. The E. coli outbreak at Chipotle wasn’t just relegated to a single location either. While the source for the contamination has yet to be found, nearly 50 people across nine states have been sickened from what the CDC speculates is a common ingredient or meal served by the chain restaurant.
A History of Food Safety Concerns
Chipotle is not the first restaurant to be fingered as the source for a foodborne illness, and it certainly won’t be the last:
- In 1993, Jack in the Box was responsible for an E. coli outbreak that sickened 700 people and killed four children.
- In 2000, there was an E. coli outbreak at Sizzler after employees cross-contaminated fresh fruit with raw meat.
- In 2012, McDonald’s made a failed attempt at marketing with #MCDStories. Many of the tweets they received from customers were around poor food quality experiences (including food poisoning). #MajorFail
- In 2015, Dateline NBC conducted an investigation into the chain restaurants around the country. Of the 1,000 restaurants examined, they found that over 60% of them were cited with serious food handling and preparation infractions.
What do you do when you hear news like this? Is it business as usual or do you take a step back to review your own restaurants’ processes and training? Do you know what each of your restaurants is doing? Is there a system of ongoing training and review to ensure everyone knows your control, consistency, and compliance standards for food prep?
Regardless of whether or not contamination comes from an outside supplier or from within one of your locations, it’s your responsibility to ensure your restaurants all follow the proper procedures and maintain as safe an environment (for themselves as well as your customers) as possible.
Food Safety and You
These days, everyone has a social media or review account (Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, et al.) where they can share any minor issue or problem for the whole world to see. It no longer takes a big news outlet to spread the news of a rat tail found in a burger or an E. coli outbreak. All it takes is for just one of your locations to mess up before your guests take to social media and spread the word. Can your budget and reputation handle that?
Be it an employee injury, a guest illness, or someone dissatisfied with the overall quality of their meal, you need to be prepared. In order for your restaurants to maintain the highest of quality standards, a proper safety training plan needs to be consistently implemented and managed across all locations, for every employee.
There are no excuses when it comes to ensuring a safe environment for everyone that steps into your restaurant. Time, money, resources… Those “obstacles” can all be overcome with the right food safety training and system in place. The Better Chains Learning Center is one of those such tools, giving you the ability to provide educational resources and training modules for each of your employees. When paired with the BOSS system, you can take control of and track each location more efficiently and effectively, and ensure that safety is the goal at the top of everyone’s list.