The Chipotle Aftermath – Are You Doing Enough to Keep Guests Safe?

Are You Doing Enough to Keep Guests Safe?

As has been widely reported, fast-casual chain Chipotle has had massive, multiple foodborne illness outbreaks, sickening hundreds with E. Coli or Norovirus at Chipotle locations across nine states.  Not surprisingly, as a result, their brand has suffered tremendously, with poor sales, dropped stocks, and a severely damaged reputation.

The depth and breadth of Chipotle’s foodborne illness outbreaks was extensive and tragic. Sadly, all of these foodborne illness incidents were 100% preventable.

If it can happen to Chipotle – who promises “food with integrity” – could it happen to you?  Are YOU doing enough to keep YOUR guests safe?

Food Safety Training Solutions, Inc. expertly helps companies – including restaurants, hotels, casinos, convenience stores, schools, airports and medical facilities – learn how to safely prepare and serve food to their guests.  Their tips include:

  • Keep it clean!  Insist that employees follow proper handwashing protocol, and keep all equipment, surfaces, coolers, etc. meticulously clean. Assign a staff member to regularly monitor the cleanliness of your establishment.
  • Explain why the policies are important.  Don’t just state that refrigerated chicken must be stored on the bottom shelf, explain that this practice helps avoid cross-contamination from raw poultry juice dripping on other foods. Your staff is more likely to comply if they understand why the rules were established.
  • Use approved, reputable suppliers.  Your suppliers should be inspected and follow local, state and federal safety guidelines.  Double check your deliveries to ensure that foods are arriving at the proper temperature, properly sealed. If food products are unsafe when they arrive, there’s nothing you can do to make them safe later.
  • Don’t allow employees to work when they’re ill – even if you’re short-staffed.  This puts customers’ lives in danger.  (Case in point – an ill Chipotle staffer infected restaurant guests with Norovirus in Boston.)
  • Get your managers formally trained in a Certified Food Manager Course. This will remind them about basic – but critical – food safety rules and regulations.
  • Train continuously.  Training is the most important thing you can do to prevent foodborne illnesses.  Well-trained employees are much more likely to properly prepare food, making your establishment safer, and lowering your risks for liability, a ruined reputation and other negative fall-out from foodborne illness incidents.
  • Keep foods at the correct temperatures.  Ensure that your staff has – and regularly uses – food thermometers. And ensure that they know the proper temperatures for cooked meats and poultry, refrigerated items, etc.  Make sure foods don’t sit out for more than two hours or the risk for bacteria increases – an important consideration for buffets, prep stations, etc.
  • Hire an agency to conduct third party audits.  Often, bringing in someone objective will boost your profits and increase your health inspection scores. Another set of eyes from the “outside” will see things from a different perspective, can review key elements that the health inspector will assess, and point out possible infractions.  Hire someone reputable, who knows the business, and genuinely cares about your outcome.

Food Safety Training Solutions, Inc. offers a robust roster of services, including food safety training and auditing, food allergy training, responsible alcohol service training, writing HACCP plans and more. Their team has more than100 combined years of industry experience. Coming from the “real world” of restaurants, casinos, and convenience stores, they understand the industry’s daily struggles firsthand. Their personal stories bring lessons to life and make the material more palatable.