Business Insights

Flu Season Restaurant Safety Tips

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Flu Season and Restaurants

Next to great service and a stellar menu, restaurant safety and food safety are pillars of a successful restaurant, especially during the spike of flu season. Improper handling of food mixed with poor sanitation practices is a recipe for outbreak that no restaurant can afford. It’s time to steer clear of sick employees and customers.

According to the New York Times, this flu season is the worst in nearly a decade, meaning restaurant sanitation and safety guidelines are very top of mind. Unfortunately, the season is not over.

In the restaurant industry, it is easy to come into contact with at many new people on a daily basis, some of which may carry the flu virus with them. Therefore, taking all precautions is extremely important.

The flu season is a time where restaurants can get hit very hard with sickness throughout the staff. But by following and adhering to strict cleaning measures and practices, your restaurant can come out on top with a healthy staff and healthy environment for customers and their families. In order to prepare, consider holding a special staff meeting to go over guidelines and added precautions the restaurant will be taking during the flu season. This ensures all employees are informed and ready for any new procedures.

Here we break down our top 5 tips for restaurant safety and success through the duration of the flu season, to not only protect your staff, but your loyal customers as well.

5 Tips for Restaurant Safety

Hoping to keep your staff and customers safe and healthy? Follow these important steps to fight back flu season!

  1. Constantly Wash Hands
    A “Golden Rule” in restaurant and food safety is thorough hand washing. Insist staff — both back-of-house and front-of-house — wash their hands after a sneeze, a cough or blowing their nose and before they handle any food. Stopping the spread before it starts is the most effective way to go.
  2. Stay Home
    As hard as it may be to send a sick employee home during a busy shift, it is worth the sacrifice. If a sick employee sticks around to finish a shift, there is no telling how many others will be affected. Everyone is at risk, meaning this could lead to more staff becoming sick, and the potential of spreading the flu to unbeknown customers. And don’t think twice about sending home a sick kitchen staff member. Food contamination is an easy way to spread the flu.

    Plus, there is nothing more off-putting for customers than seeing a restaurant staff member coughing, sneezing and sniffling throughout the restaurant. Don’t lose business or reputation. Be wise and put the welfare of others first.
  3. Sanitize Often
    Food safety and restaurant sanitation depend on this all year long, but especially during the flu season. Complete normal sanitation throughout the day, but spend an extra few minutes every hour sanitizing these specific objects that have the potential to carry the flu virus:
    -Arm rests
    -Door handles
    -Buffet serving utensils
    -Condiment bottles
    -Waiting areas
    -Credit card machines

    Seeing restaurant staff taking these extra cleaning precautions will surely give customers  peace of mind knowing you are taking additional steps to keep a sanitized restaurant. By cleaning public spaces and shared tools, you’ll cut down on the likelihood of spreading germs.
  4. Use SmartChoice Gloves
    Investing in stellar gloves promotes food safety as well. Get your kitchen staff gloves that will protect themselves, customers and the food they carefully prepare from any contamination of the flu or other food borne illness that could lead to more serious sickness.  

    Just like with hand washing, encourage the kitchen staff to change their gloves more often than usual. Again, this not only keeps your staff safe, but most importantly, it keeps customers safe too. Proper glove choice is an important consideration for anyone in the restaurant business. Heavy duty gloves are ideal for BOH (back of house) where employees are handling high volumes of raw foods, whereas lighter, easier on/off gloves are typically more suitable for employees handling less or changing pairs more frequently.
  5. Offer Tissue and Sanitizer
    Place tissues and hand sanitizer in high-traffic areas of the restaurant — such as registers, waiting areas, to-go pick up counters and drink stations — for both staff and customers.

Ultimately, utilize what you know when it comes to sanitation and keeping a safe restaurant environment. Stick to the food safety guidelines, and do what is best for your restaurant. It’s much better to be safe and implement more sanitation and safety steps, than to only do the bare minimum and be stuck with a short staff due to illness.

It’s also a sure way to let your customers know you’re committed to culinary excellence and service.

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