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How to keep food safety top of mind year-round

Each September, the National Restaurant Association encourages restaurants and foodservice operators to raise awareness about  the industry’s commitment to food safety. I reached out to NRA’s Annika Stensson to find out how restaurants can participate.

This year’s theme is “Lessons Learned from the Health Inspection.” What are some of the lessons that are being shared this month?

Food safety is an everyday activity in restaurants, and what a health inspector looks at when visiting are common tasks that are performed on a regular basis. So, we focused the National Food Safety Education Month weekly training activities around such tasks, including handling food, cleaning and sanitizing, storing food, and handling equipment and utensils, in addition to how to accommodate the inspector on-site.

How can restaurants incorporate this campaign into their training activities?

The weekly training activities are designed to fit into existing food safety training programs, as well as be used as stand-alone sessions during daily staff meetings or other group settings. Each takes only 10 minutes to complete, from reviewing information to testing your knowledge. Additional materials, like the posters, are easy to post in kitchens or staff areas to continue to reinforce the information.

Food safety is a year-round priority. How can restaurants keep their staff educated and alert throughout the year?

In our industry, there is nothing more important than the health and safety of our guests. We’re running our National Food Safety Education Month campaign to keep the importance of training top of mind, and to demonstrate how easy it is to review and reinforce food safety practices in a quick and easy way on an ongoing basis. It’s important to build a culture of food safety, and to educate each employee on how they contribute to it.

What else would you like to share about the campaign?

All our materials for NFSEM are free for download on www.servsafe.com/NFSEM. Also, all the materials are based on the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe Food Safety training and certification program, which is the most widely accepted such program in the country, with more than 4.6 million certifications issued to date. For operators who want to provide more comprehensive food safety training for their employees, you might consider ServSafe Food Handler, which is a very affordable online training option, in addition to ServSafe Manager.

SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in Restaurant SmartBrief — tracks feedback from restaurant owners and managers about trends and issues.

Last week’s poll question: What is your restaurant doing for National Food Safety Education Month?

50.85% — My restaurant isn’t doing anything special.
47.46% — My restaurant is offering food safety training to employees.
1.69% — My restaurant is educating customers about food safety.

Leave a comment. How does your restaurant keep food safety top of mind year-round?