Monthly Archive for June, 2009

How a simple mistake cost one restaurant $100,000

When people walk into a restaurant to eat, they are putting their trust in you. They blindly have faith that you will serve them food that is fresh and safe to eat. There are several restaurants in Australia right now that are paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties and settlements because they served contaminated food to patrons who became seriously ill and, in one particular case, died. So, how can you know that your kitchen is safe? Even one mistake leading to an outbreak of illness can permanently damage your establishment’s reputation and finances due to damage claims. Many times these are simple mistakes that could have been easily avoided.

One of the most common problems is salmonella poisoning which cases stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration in its victims. This is most often caused by poor food-handling hygiene and inadequate oven cooking temperatures. The Sofia Pizza Restaurant infected at least 33 people with salmonella back in 2004. In 2003, Footscray restaurant Thanh Phu faced a class action suit from 135 people. This is an overwhelming problem that could cost you thousands, not something to shrug off as something that will “never happen to me.”

Victoria, Australia has strict food regulations that force all food distributed in Australia to meet certain requirements. There are also certain standards for importing or exporting food as well. There are several different places that you will need to register with, depending on what kind of food you are mainly selling or preparing. The Food Safety Programme (FSP) details a number of requirements for keeping your kitchen clean and safe. First of all, all measuring devices should be calibrated annually and tested mid-year. A log should be kept listing when sauces and other foods are thawed so there will be record of the time frame in which they should be used. The temperature of delivery trucks and delivered packages should be measured and recorded in said log. Records should also be kept as to when “high risk” foods are discarded. If these rules are not followed, stiff fines will be enforced. This applies to fresh food stands as well as stores and restaurants. There are training programs available to educate your employees as to proper food handling and preparation. While they do can incur an expense, it could save you money in the long run.