The holiday season is in full swing, and many restaurants are at peak capacity with holiday parties, family celebrations, and regular customers. When dealing with larger-than-typical crowds, staff can easily be swept up in the hustle and bustle. When this happens, it’s easy for policies and procedures to go out of the window.

While the holiday rush may have restaurants needing to work quicker than usual, it’s important that quality isn’t sacrificed for quantity. Though no one likes to keep a hungry customer waiting, customers suffer more when restaurants ignore food safety procedures in favor of speed. 

In order to ensure restaurant staff maintains regular food safety procedures during the holiday season’s busiest days, it’s important that managers remind staff of how to prioritize food safety before things get too hectic. Reminders at regular team meetings are one simple way to reinforce positive food handling practices among staff, as are postings around the kitchen. A few good reminders for kitchen staff include:

  • Sanitizer solution must be kept at the proper concentration level in order to be effective in killing bacteria. Sanitizer concentration and detergent levels should be checked regularly to ensure proper sanitation.
  • Larger portions and quantities of food in the ovens may alter cook times. Adjust cooking times as needed and, when in doubt, use a digital food thermometer to ensure that food is a safe temperature for consumption. 
  • Gloves are to be worn whenever employees are working with ready-to-eat-foods. To prevent the spread of germs, hand washing should take place between each glove change and when switching between working with raw animal proteins and ready-to-eat foods.

Reminders about food safety should include the “why” of food safety procedures (i.e., to protect customers’ health), not just the “how.” When staff understands the importance of a process, they are less likely to skip it in order to save time. 

Once staff are made fully aware of the importance of food safety procedures, it’s important that restaurant managers and owners provide them with the necessary tools to maintain food safety compliance, such as tongs, gloves, sanitizer, and hand soap. Because the holidays tend to bring in more large catering orders than usual, restaurant owners may also need to stock up on additional heating cabinets and cooling units to ensure that food is kept at a safe temperature prior to being picked up or served.

Managers can also help staff by scheduling activities in a way that makes it easier to maintain compliance. For example, the additional food prep needed during the holiday season may require more countertop and table space than what’s available. In order to ensure that ready-to-eat products are kept separate from raw animal proteins in even the smallest kitchen, managers can schedule prep work so that all ready-to-eat foods are prepared and stored before raw protein preparation begins.

By providing staff with reminders, tools, and proper scheduling, restaurant owners and managers can help staff feel confident in following food safety procedures amidst the holiday rush. However, even with the best preparation, accidents can happen. The only way that restaurants can ensure they are protected from the effects of food poisoning and other customer illnesses is by having a strong insurance policy to fall back on.

For businesses in New York City looking to purchase restaurant insurance online, Bikelane is a safe platform offering educational resources, specialized consultants, and a bonus HR toolkit.

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