How a Simple Mistake Cost One Restaurant $100,000

When patrons walk in your door for a meal, they are placing their trust in you. Your patrons are relying on you to serve them food which is safe and prepared in a clean kitchen. You might have heard of some of the restaurants in Australia which are paying massive settlements to customers who were sickened; and in one case, killed by the food they were served at these establishments.

So how can your business be certain that the food you serve to patrons is safe? It only takes one mistake to permanently damage the reputation of your business. Most of the time, these mistakes could have been avoided with a minimum of effort and education.

One of the most common problems is salmonella poisoning which causes stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting, and dehydration in its victims. This is most often a result of poor hygiene when handling food and inadequate oven cooking temperatures.

In 2004, food from the Sofia Pizza restaurant sickened at least 33 patrons. In 2003, 135 people who had become ill as a result of the food served at Thanh Phu in Footscray filed a class action suit. You can't assume that this could never happen to your business; be sure to protect your restaurant. Food safety should be a primary concern for anyone who owns a restaurant or catering business.

Victoria, Australia has strict food regulations dictating that all food distributed meet certain requirements. Depending on the food you are mainly selling or preparing there are several different authorities with whom you will need to register. There are also standards for importing or exporting food.

The Food Safety Program (or FSP) lists the requirements which are necessary to keep your kitchen clean and the food you serve safe for your customers to eat. All measuring devices have to be calibrated at least once a year and tested halfway through each year. Kitchens must keep a log detailing when foods have been thawed so it is known by what time these foods must be used. Delivery trucks and package temperatures must also be logged, as must the time when foods are to be discarded if not used.

If these rules are not followed, stiff fines will be enforced. This applies to fresh food stands as well as stores and restaurants.

With so many regulations and so much at risk, any oversight could be disastrous. Training programs are available to educate employees and equip them with the skills and knowledge necessary to avoid an outbreak. While these programs do incur an expense, in the long run they could save you money.

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