A newly released study has revealed shocking levels of bad behaviour in commercial kitchens which leads to a significantly increased chance of your customers developing food poisoning and a significantly increased chance of your business closing!
Close to the top of the list is a shocking 30% of chefs said that they had worked in a kitchen within 48 hours of suffering from diarrhea and/or vomiting!! Come again!! As a manager or owner, ask yourself the question about how focused you are on this topic. Sure you “insist” on best practice but clearly up to 30% of establishments are really very, very poor at carrying through on their requirements. As someone that contracted food poisoning in the past you will know that it’s often hard to pinpoint the exact source. What you will have noticed though is that you avoid some of the usual suspects in the future. If you are the owner or manager of one of these 30% of locations, the trouble is you may not even know what your chefs are really up to and you may be losing business without even knowing about it.
Before you state that that wouldn’t happen in my fine dining restaurant, it’s important to note that chefs working in award winning restaurants are more likely to have committed the offence as they are under greater pressure to return to work. When you see the number of restaurants that last any significant period of time then it’s easy to see why this can be just one factor in their demise. High-profile food poisoning outbreaks such as the one at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant are more common than you think as indeed are restaurant closures. Time to have a conversation with your staff (and maybe even yourself) me thinks!
Now this is a UK study carried out in 2017 by the University of Liverpool but its findings are just as relevant for Ireland. The most dangerous activity found by the survey was the fact that one third of chefs served meat “on the turn”! For those of you not in the hospitality industry that means meat that is not fresh or spoiled. Now maybe this is just laziness, maybe its incompetence and more often it’s probably down to pressure either financially to cut costs or otherwise but let me tell you something; smothering a piece of meat that’s on the turn with spices will not solve the problem that your business has. It might solve your immediate cash flow requirement but your days are numbered and rightly so. Time to ask yourself how skilled your chefs really are in the art of “managing” your kitchen or whether they just cover up the future demise of your business. A third, remember a third of chefs are at this activity!!
The survey also found that 7.4% of chefs did not always wash their hands immediately after handling raw meat, poultry or fish. Well I’m sorry but your not a chef, you’re a hazard with no regard whatsoever for your own well being or that of your customers.
Finally we have a really surprising stat that showed that 16% of the chefs surveyed had served barbeque chicken when not sure it was fully cooked. So it’s clear to us that there is a serious lack of training and also a serious lack of compliance in the food safety sector. It’s also clear to us from working on the ground that the better and certainly more sustainable businesses take their customers health very seriously. They do this for many reasons including the fact that it’s the law but for most there is a clear link between not making your customers sick and financial longevity.
Before I go I will give you two quick stories as a consumer. Every week, I walk past a pizza establishment that is always trying to secure new business. They have all kinds of special offers, deals and incentives. They open all hours, work exceptionally hard, have very keen prices and yet they don’t seem to be getting the business. Well while they scratch their heads wondering what’s wrong, I will give you the simple answer: As I walk by their floor to ceiling window, you can clearly see a buildup of dirt and food on the floor which is at a raised level to the footpath so it’s very noticeable when walking by. Now I appreciate that under tables are hard to reach areas but they must also appreciate the fact that as a consumer, I have the power. If their front of house is in this poor a condition on a consistent basis, I ain’t ever giving their back of house a chance. They could give it away for free and I wouldn’t eat in there and the reality is that they will close soon.
My second story is about a recent visit to a fancy gastropub. Imagine my horror when the chef wheeled a filthy wheelie bin through a courtyard where I was about to have my lunch! Now I didn’t at all mind that the chef was wheeling the bin, I did however mind that it was filthy but what absolutely got me was that he was still wearing his kitchen apron. Is he one of those that also didn’t wash his hands? I don’t know but you would have to assume that he is. Again as consumer I have the power not to return and also to tell others of my experience. That particular premises struggles badly in the shoulder season and doesn’t do as well as it could in the busy season. I’m sure they still wonder why.
Dulann is a provider of technology-enabled learning solutions for many of the world’s leading organisations. Services include Product & Process Simulations, Contractor Inductions & Employee Onboarding, Mandatory & Commercial Training, Contractor Management & Learning Management Systems. Dulann are also the leading provider of online food safety L1 & L2 to the Irish Hospitality sector.
About Damian Donlon.
Damian is a Non Executive, Senior Consultant, Interim Manager and Talent Adviser with specialist experience in the Construction & Technology sectors. Please feel free to contact him directly on 0879218616 for a confidential conversation.