A breakfast buffet is one of life’s greatest pleasures. For one thing, they’re usually a pretty good value or included in the cost of a hotel stay. More importantly, a buffet experience provides diners with the opportunity to shun the constraints and etiquette of a traditional mealtime experience and carve out their own path.
Why settle for a simple plate of scrambled eggs on toast when you could fill your plate with the more creative combination of fruit, cheese, bacon, croissants, and hash browns?
But as you drizzle your plate of waffles with maple syrup, do you stop to consider how long that waffle batter has been sitting out at room temperature? And what about the flasks of milk at the coffee station? Surely that would go stale within a couple of hours? When was the last time someone cleaned and sterilized the serving spoons, surfaces, or handles on the coffee machine?
Prioritizing food and kitchen safety has always been important, but in a world in which COVID-19 lingers, these considerations matter more than ever before.
The Fresh Ideas Fresh Eyes Program
The Fresh Eyes program was developed shortly after the launch of Fresh Ideas in 2000. It’s a program designed around monthly inspections at each of our accounts. Our inspection criteria focus on key safety and cleanliness protocols as well as includes a review of our customer service and marketing standards at each unit.
We were committed to holding the company to a higher standard than the local health departments and ultimately becoming the safest food company in Missouri, where Fresh Ideas was exclusively based at the time. Although the company has since expanded to 11 states, we’ve continued to roll out robust safety initiatives and programs. We’re truly one of the safest food companies in the Midwest.
How Does Prioritizing Food And Kitchen Safety Build Trust, Contribute To High Performing Team Members And Satisfy Customers?
It can take companies many years and considerable effort to build a mutually trusting relationship with clients, customers, and employees. Yet only one wrong move can bring it all crashing down in a matter of seconds.
At Fresh Ideas, we’ve found that a meticulous and diligent approach to managing food and kitchen safety has served to enhance our reputation. In the event of an inspection from a local health department, inspectors find that we always follow our rules and make sure to keep health and safety logs up-to-date. This provides reassurance to our customers and clients that we follow through on our promises to deliver impeccable service.
Customers want (and deserve) to be able to eat something with the knowledge that it’s safe and healthy – they won’t get sick and all the allergens they need to know about are clearly listed.
At Fresh Ideas, we work with a nutritional recipe database, JAMIX, which provides nutritional data for our menu items. This information is available on the websites of all of our accounts so guests can pull up the nutritional value of any item they consume. This helps to build trust, foster loyalty, and ultimately keep our customers happy and satisfied.
It’s also important to implement stringent health and safety guidelines, procedures, and training programs for the benefit of the workforce. Taking good care of employees means putting their safety first and ensuring they have everything they need to do their job without additional and unnecessary risks. At Fresh Ideas, we’ve found that when employees feel safe, protected, confident, and invested in, their job satisfaction and happiness increases, turnover reduces, and they ultimately take better care of our customers and provide them with a better service.
Similarly, we build trust with our clients by showing them how well we treat our employees and the students, guests, senior citizens, and residents we serve. Open communication and total transparency are extremely important. For example, our clients are welcome to visit our kitchens or walk into our coolers at any time and on any day of the week.
How To Keep Your Customers Safe
Some of the measures we have implemented include:
- Front-of-house cleanliness – We instruct front-of-house staff to regularly disinfect all tables and touch-point surfaces. Post-COVID-19, touchpoints are cleaned every fifteen minutes to guarantee customer safety.
- Safety signage – For example, post-cleaning there should always be a wet floor sign. Front-of-house equipment, such as a self-service waffle iron, should also have safety signs and instructions so customers know how to use it properly.
- Temperature control – We adhere to a very stringent temperature control system for warmers, coolers, dish machines, etc. Our coolers are checked for functionality twice a day, thermometers are calibrated on a daily basis, and the temperature of the food we receive is checked before we even start cooking to ensure it meets requirements. We temperature-check food once it has been cooked and at least twice during a two-hour breakfast sitting to ensure all food is being kept at the correct holding temperature.
- Temperature logging – Every time we test equipment or check the temperature of our food, it is recorded in a production log for future reference if needed.
- Allergen information –It is important to provide detailed information about a wide range of allergens, intolerances, and other dietary requirements including gluten, soy, milk, and dairy.
How To Keep Your Employees Safe
Some of the measures we have implemented include:
- Safety signage – Safety signs appear on every piece of equipment with an accompanying safety training program.
- EATS training program – This training program features different modules for different pieces of equipment providing guidance on how to use them properly, encompassing everything from knife handling to using friers or slicers. Team members that haven’t completed the relevant training program are not permitted to use the equipment.
- Addressing slips, trips, and falls – Slips, trips, and falls are the most common accidents that happen in the food service industry so we concentrate heavily on these risks. For example, all employees are required to wear black safety non-slip shoes and are not permitted to work without them. We recently launched a payroll deduction program “Shoes for Crews.” Fresh Ideas order employees’ shoes and the cost is deducted from their paychecks over time.
- Kitchen rules – For example, knives are only permitted in certain places: in an employee’s hand, a cutting board, or on the safety rack. This prevents employees from creating potential hazards such as throwing a knife into a sink of soapy dishwater where it is not visible to team members washing dishes and could cause a cut.
- Job Safety Analysis (JSA) – For every role, whether it’s a chef, utilities manager, or cashier, we have a set of protocols. Employees must understand and sign the relevant set of protocols. This ensures they understand the potential hazards of the role and how to use the necessary equipment.
- Unsafe Acts board – If an employee sees a safety hazard such as a wet floor without a wet floor sign, they write it on the “Unsafe Acts” board so the topic can be raised and addressed in our daily team meeting. This measure isn’t about naming and shaming; rather, it’s an opportunity for the workforce to keep safety top of mind, learn from a mistake, and boost safety in the workplace.