Food spoilage is a big problem for restaurants. Food spoilage doesn’t only represent food and money being washed down the drain. It also exposes your restaurant to major liability risks if patrons consume foods that have spoiled and are, as a result, exposed to food poisoning or other foodborne illnesses.
What is Food Spoilage?
Food spoilage is what happens when certain microorganisms cause food to lose its taste, texture, and overall appeal. Not all of these bacteria, however, will make people sick – though most people aren’t really interested in eating the unattractive food and restaurants are certainly not interested in serving it.
The problem comes when pathogenic bacteria, such as salmonella and e. coli, are allowed to flourish. This generally happens when food is left to linger at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for too long, as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) points out. The pathogenic bacteria, unfortunately, do not have an odor or taste indicator that alerts the senses.
Many restaurants fail to understand the importance of spoilage insurance until after they find themselves in need of it, either because they lost money from spoiled food or have received a patron lawsuit as a result of food poisoning. The first thing you should know is that it’s a fairly inexpensive add-on to your general business insurance policy. That makes it a simple addition for most restaurant owners and provides a flat amount of protection for your restaurant in the event that a power outage or refrigeration equipment malfunction leads to spoiled food.
Just make sure you read the fine print and comply with the requirements in order to receive the coverage – especially when it comes to equipment maintenance and malfunctions. The bottom line is that there is never a good time for restaurants to lose all their food. Having the right spoilage insurance coverage can help your restaurant recover faster – without turning a definite pitfall into a major disaster.
Preventing Food Spoilage and Contamination
Small policy changes in your company can help you prevent food spoilage and contamination. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of adequately enforcing policies that are already in place. These are some of the policies you definitely want to have in place in any food service business.
- Employees must wash hands, cutting surfaces, and utensils before and after handling food of any kind – especially before introducing new foods to their hands, surfaces, etc. You never want to chop lettuce on the same, surface you just chopped chicken on without cleaning between the two. That could lead to salmonella.
- Pay close attention to food temperature standards and protocols.
- Rotate foods so that the first foods into the cooler are the first foods that come out of the cooler.
- Inspect food – especially produce – for freshness before you accept delivery.
- Schedule periodic inspections to ensure that foods are at the appropriate temperature, employees are handling food safety, and that all the produce is in good shape.
Despite your best efforts, however, things can go wrong. Equipment malfunctions. Power goes out. These are the times when you need the assistance a good food spoilage insurance policy from Greenwood Insurance Group.