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What role do food service managers play in food safety?

The role of a food service manager in a restaurant is critical to maintaining high standards of food safety and hygiene in the Asia-Pacific region. Food service managers are employed by food retailers and restaurants that serve food to customers, and a manager’s job encompasses a wide range of responsibilities relating to customer experience, food quality, and food safety. In this article, we explore what role do food service managers play in food safety, and how food service managers can improve food safety within their operation.

A food service manager is responsible for the daily running of a restaurant or any other establishment where food is served to the public. Food service managers have a long list of responsibilities, with typical food service manager duties including:

• Hiring and training new employees
• Managing employee performance
• Creating staff schedules
• Addressing customer complaints
• Maintaining employment records
• Conducting health and safety inspections
• Managing business performance

Two elements in this list are particularly relevant when considering food safety in restaurants; staff training and health and safety inspections.

What role do food service managers play in food safety?

Food safety is a critical issue in any operation that serves food, including hotels, restaurants, cafés, and bars. It is the role of a food service manager to maintain high standards in the quality of the service that an establishment offers its customers: this means improving the standards of food quality, customer service, and food safety.

As leaders within their establishment, it’s important that food service managers demonstrate and enforce excellent food safety protocols to other members of staff. These food safety protocols should be included as part of employee training, and food service managers should review food safety standards regularly to ensure they are being met.

Food service managers as food safety role models

Food service managers that do not emphasise the importance of food safety from day one will find that their employees do not respect this crucial aspect of professional food service. This is especially true in establishments that frequently hire younger staff members who may have less prior experience in food service.

This is why food safety training is vital in restaurants and cafés, even those which employ experienced chefs and waiting staff. Food service managers are responsible for scheduling regular food service training sessions designed to keep all staff members up to date on the latest in food safety best practices. While the science behind food safety might not change much year to year, local food safety regulations are updated often.

Simple food safety rules that most staff should be following in food preparation environments include regular hand washing in the correct sink, preparing meat and vegetables and cooked and uncooked food in separate areas, and correctly dating and labelling food in fridges with a colour-labelled system to ensure that out-of-date supplies are not served to customers. Food safety training sessions are an opportunity to remind staff of these basic principles.

The importance of regular food safety inspections

It’s important that proactive food service managers carry out regular informal food safety inspections. Not only do regular inspections ensure that bad habits are identified and stopped early, but they also send a clear message to staff that food safety is taken seriously within your establishment. Food safety checks should involve checking every aspect of food storage and preparation that local and regional regulations cover.

When food safety inspections aren’t carried out regularly, there is no quality control and an establishment opens itself up to risks, including cross-contamination of food, which can lead to outbreaks of food-borne diseases and cause allergic reactions in customers. This is without taking into consideration the negative effects a poor food hygiene rating from a formal inspector can have on an establishment’s reputation.

When food safety inspections are carried out regularly, food service managers will learn where food safety risks for customers arise and can put processes in place to minimise those risks. Whether this means introducing new elements to the schedule before opening or closing or offering extra training sessions for those staff members who need them, regular food safety inspections are one of the most effective ways to ensure that high standards are maintained at all times, and this is the responsibility of the acting food serving manager.

Why is food safety important?

The importance of food safety in public settings cannot be overstated. Outbreaks of foodborne diseases result in around 3 million deaths globally every year, and this number would be a lot higher if the majority of food outlets across the world didn’t uphold certain standards in food safety.

As well as having serious implications for public health, food safety can also have a significant impact on the success of an establishment. Customers who have poor experiences with food safety at food outlets such as restaurants may not ever return to those establishments again, and this drop in customer visits and profits will be the responsibility of food service managers. This can be particularly important in tourist hot spots, where the food safety expectations of international visitors may be different from those of locals.

How can food service managers improve food safety within their establishments?

Having answered the question ‘what role do food service managers play in food safety?’, the importance of good hygiene in food service facilities should be clear. Food service managers play an important role in maintaining high standards of hygiene, and the Covid-19 pandemic has only highlighted how important it is to uphold these standards in all establishments where food is handled on a regular basis.

One of the challenges that the Asia-Pacific region is currently facing is due to the wide variety of different standards enacted by various governments relating to food handling. In Singapore, a country that still relies heavily on imports, food service managers only have control over the food safety of produce once it has entered Singapore. A push by the Food and Agriculture Organisation to create consistent food safety standards across the region could improve the situation at all stages of the supply chain.

Food service managers can also have an impact on the food safety and hygiene standards upheld within their establishments by ensuring adequate resources are allocated to cleaning tasks. Whether this means investing in high-quality, modern cleaning products or delegating more staff hours to cleaning tasks, food service managers have a great deal of control over food safety within their establishments.

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If you would like to know more about upholding excellent hygiene standards in your establishment or how Rubbermaid Commercial Products can help you on this, contact us.