Running a busy and successful restaurant business certainly has its challenges. It’s a fast paced and high pressured environment without much room for error. Thankfully there have been advances over the years to make things easier, and we’re not just talking about our sous vide machines which give perfection on a plate every time!
Government set safety standards and guidelines ensure the safety of customers and staff alike, and are a vital part of the food industry. They give a benchmark of standard for businesses to aim for, and give a clear framework for those working in the food industry, in businesses from restaurants to hotels and catering firms. However, due to a reliance on old fashioned methods of documentation (pen and paper), some businesses could be doing themselves a disservice when it comes to inspections.
Any business operating within the food industry has to demonstrate that it has an appropriate HACCP-based food safety management system in place, which sounds simple enough and whilst you may be following strictly to the rules and checking everything is as it should be, not documenting this correctly can be detrimental. The majority of the general public will be unaware of the fact that a lack of documentation, a few misplaced papers or an incorrectly filled out form can actually result in food establishments being given poor food hygiene ratings when visited by representatives from official food standard bodies. A public perception that a restaurant is dirty, even when the reality is that they simply could not find the relevant documents when asked by food standards officers, can be a death knell for a business – so how can those in the industry reduce the chance of this happening?
Let’s say you’re a small restaurant. Statistics suggest that you’ll have a paper system in place for your required SFBB (safer food, better businesses) packs. It’s no surprise as to why when you see that this is the suggested protocol on the official food.gov.uk guidelines but is pen and paper really the best way for your business? Is that piece of paper that you have filled in diligently going to be misplaced, knocked from the counter onto the floor and thrown away? We store so much of our lives electronically now, so it makes sense to do the same with documentation that can make a world of difference to a business.
A good solution could be to go paperless, and this could be easier than you think. Solutions from businesses including SAFAS can help you to meet your legal obligations on food safety and show you the way to achieving a top score under the current government hygiene assessment programmes. All documentation is kept online with no print outs necessary, meaning when a government agency call to do an inspection you will be well prepared to demonstrate you’ve been keeping to the rules. Online providers of this kind of service can often offer everything in one place, so you can complete the whole health and safety process simply. Your business will be checked for compliance, and its current standards scrutinised, and then you’ll be given easy instructions on how to improve your compliance levels before assessment – and with everything stored digitally, you don’t need to worry about a misplaced folder or papers being thrown away with food waste.