One thing restaurant owners need to be prepared for, in addition to ensuring their workers and their equipment are protected, is the health of the visitors that come to their restaurant. How many people do you know who can easily recall a story where they suffered from food poisoning from a restaurant? How many of those instances put them in a hospital?
Even restaurants like Chipotle that pride themselves on using only the freshest ingredients can’t always ignore the threat of food poisoning. So, what happens to a restaurant when an incident like the "Chipotle E. coli and norovirus breakout" occurs? What can restaurants do to protect themselves?
Here are four ways restaurants can prevent a food-poisoning breakout like the one Chipotle went through:
1. Make sure employees have sick days
In the case of Chipotle, the contamination initially stemmed from a sick employee that came into work. As a restaurant owner or manager, it’s important to communicate to your employees that if they are sick, they should stay home. Not only is staying home in the best interest of the sick employee, but this also prevents the sickness from spreading to employees or contaminating the food.
2. Always have general Liability insurance
General liability insurance will cover the costs if a customer becomes sick from eating at your restaurant and decides to sue you. This is important because legal bills and hospital bills can become extremely expensive.
3. All food operations, no matter what size, should buy standalone foodborne illness policies.
Standalone foodborne illness insurance covers any loss of income resulting from a foodborne illness outbreak and also includes other coverages that pay for things like dealing with the health department and public relations to get customers to come back. What is most important about this coverage is that it can make up for any lost income due to a decrease in sales.
Also, if the restaurant you run is part of a larger franchise and a restaurant location other than your own has a foodborne illness outbreak causing people to stop coming to your location, this policy will cover loss of income and other expenses dealing with the situation.
Learning from Chipotle’s mistake
What happened to Chipotle is any restaurant owner’s nightmare, but it’s important to learn from what went wrong and adjust your practices and procedures to ensure it doesn’t happen to you. Have you ever experienced a food poisoning situation at your restaurant? How did you deal with it?