Customers are more conscientious about their own personal health and safety now more than ever as COVID-19 has pivoted consumers’ attention toward how they can protect themselves and their families. Beyond concerns such as price, availability and eco-friendliness, people are now becoming more conscious of proper hygiene measures and want to make absolutely certain that the food products they buy and consume won’t put them at risk of food-borne illness.
Assume your customers are doing their own research on food safety trends, news and issues. People are actively looking into food safety risks, educating themselves on potential issues and steering clear of products and suppliers that may not meet their standards. In 2022, Food Safety Supervisors need to make sure their business is a respected one with a solid reputation for being safe.
Safety is your responsibility
A Food Safety Supervisor’s job is to manage the overall food safety of a business. This involves:
- monitoring Food Handlers to make sure they’re following safety rules and maintaining personal hygiene
- being conscious of applicable legislation and standards that apply to the food business
- knowing how to recognise, prevent and address food safety issues that may arise
- completing all relevant training and keeping certification up to date
- building and maintaining a food safety program with a food safety plan
In 2022, Food Safety Supervisors may have to get a bit more creative to meet the rising standards of customers. Here are some ways to get started.
Ensure training and certifications are up to date
Food Safety Supervisors are often tasked with making sure the proper training and certifications pertaining to food safety are up to date at all times. Make sure Food Handlers have training that includes food safety practices from cooking foods to proper temperatures, to working with high-risk foods and customer groups, to ensuring no allergens end up as part of dishes they’re not supposed to be in. Beyond this, in a world learning to live with COVID-19, make sure staff are trained to know what protocols are in place to reduce transmission of the virus.
In 2022, delivery drivers are the front-line workers for a lot of food businesses. They also need up-to-date food safety certifications and knowledge. Keep drivers or delivery workers apprised on all food safety practices, and display certifications in places customers can see them.
Implement hygiene practices that make sense for 2022
Hygiene — especially hand hygiene — has been in the spotlight since the beginning of the pandemic. Most people now know that you should wash your hands with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds with liquid soap to truly get them clean. You need to ensure you and all staff follow correct hand washing procedures, and know when and how to do it right.
Customers are also highly conscious of the need for businesses to sanitise high-touch surfaces such as pinpads or door handles.
Some other hygiene tips to reassure customers:
- Have hand sanitation stations available in prominent locations
- Sanitise surfaces regularly
- Use contact-less delivery and ordering
- Use food rotation labels to help in prep and storage
- Seal food packaging with tamper-evident labels
All these steps will help customers feel confident that their safety is your top priority.
Try source-tracing software
Consumers’ interest in knowing exactly where and how their food ended up on their plate has been growing. Now, you can further instill trust by being able to track the source of every single item on your menu.
Food traceability refers to the ability to follow a food product and its ingredients through all the steps of the supply chain. Traceability software aims to automate this process, accounting for each step for your business.
Some things this software can track include the details about the farmer and location, the date and time of harvest and conditions of storage. This helps your business in adopting a culture of radical transparency, which savvy customers are demanding in 2022.
Food traceability is important because it lets you pinpoint exactly where in the supply chain something went wrong, so the problem is easier and quicker to address. It lets businesses isolate contaminated goods and prevent them from reaching the consumer.
Servers should also be educated on traceability strategies and processes so they can confidently inform customers who have questions.
Make noticeable changes
If you want to remain competitive, it’s not enough to make changes — you need to communicate those changes to customers. For example, add single-use condiment packages to tables instead of communal ones. Have front-facing employees in fresh PPE. Use disposable food containers where possible, to cut down on items being handled by many people.
Food safety-conscious customers want to not only know you’re following best hygiene practices — they want to see these efforts in action.
Communicate safety efforts to customers. This may involve asking customers directly what they would like to see. You could strategise with marketing and social media teams to send out a survey or take an informal poll — ask customers what matters most to them when it comes to your business and their safety, and how you can improve in 2022.
Get team members on the same page
Make sure everyone on the team — from serving and kitchen staff to managers — are aware of the specific practices and procedures used in the business to boost safety, and ask for their ideas on what to change in 2022. They may have thoughts on how to improve food safety or communicate changes to customers.
Build a culture of transparency on all levels. For example, a food recall should be addressed immediately by employees removing the product, executives handling PR duties for the public, servers knowing what to say directly to customers and suppliers being aware that the product should be pulled and no longer delivered.
Keep up on the news
As a Food Safety Supervisor, you likely follow the news and pay attention to what’s going on in the industry. You’ll want to double-down on this helpful habit in 2022, to ensure you don’t miss any crucial updates on COVID-19 restrictions, or food safety news updates. The Australian Institute of Food Safety keeps apprised of food safety news and breaks it down for you, so you’ll always know where to look.
If you’re not yet a Food Safety Supervisor but that’s one of your goals for 2022, AIFS has you covered! Our Food Safety Supervisor Course will help you meet compliance requirements and complete training faster as you work toward better protecting your customers. If you are looking to start a food business yourself, our article "How Do I Start a Food Business?" is the perfect place to start.