The food service industry is in denial about the seriousness of the issue of food contamination, and how widespread the problems have become. While some restaurants and other food businesses pride themselves on following impeccable food safety protocols every day, many do not. All it takes is one employee serving undercooked steak, or handling raw eggs and then prepping a salad, or forgetting to refrigerate a tray of marinating meat … and a foodborne illness outbreak occurs.
Foodborne illness incidents and outbreaks can be caused by multiple factors. In some cases, food is contaminated where it grows. Sometimes, it’s contaminated during the transportation process. Human error contributes to many foodborne illness outbreaks. For instance, cross-contamination (such as prepping raw poultry and ready-to-eat foods on the same cutting board) can transfer harmful bacteria from the raw proteins to the ready-to-eat foods. Additionally, when foods are time-temperature abused, often due to human error, bacteria can grow and sicken consumers that eat it.
Those working in the hospitality industry a particularly restaurants a have a responsibility to ensure that everyone who handles food is aware of the correct practices. As such, all employees should be provided with the right training to keep food hygienic and safe.
Having a robust food safety management system is required by law in the foodservice business. Processes and procedures must be appropriately monitored and documented to provide proof of compliance with the most stringent standards.
If a restaurant is caught indulging in behaviors that may cause harm to customers, the bad reviews could be the least of worries.
The business can face persecution in the form of hefty fines, restaurant closures, and even jail time for management if the standards aren’t met.
Consequently, even after these issues are fixed, customers do not return. It is because the restaurant’s image and reputation have been damaged beyond repair.
For instance, restaurants can be sued for health code violations and foodborne illnesses that may have resulted from eating at said restaurant. It should be noted that hundreds of restaurant owners are taken to court by customers because of food and drink-related diseases.
The dilemma is the lack of awareness, training and knowledge regarding food safety among masses. People in general fail to comprehend the importance of food safety since they are unfamiliar with the hazards the noncompliance comes with.
COTHM is Pakistan’s leading provider of food safety education and training. Each year, the college helps thousands of students to maintain food safety compliance.
As an internationally accredited institute, COTHM is dedicated to the promotion of better food safety practices within Pakistan, and has a mandate to educate the public.
In addition to training, COTHM helps to inform and educate the food industry and general public on the benefits of sound food safety practices.
The college bears the privilege of being the only registered body of Highfield UK in Pakistan which is a global leader in compliance and work-based learning and apprenticeship qualifications and one of the UK’s most recognizable awarding organizations.
The college understands that students lack basic knowledge of food safety and have excessive expectations of the food service regulatory system. Food service operators and managers have the ultimate responsibility of providing a safe product to consumers, and the role of health officials is to promote prevention through consultation and education to employees and owners of food service facilities. Educating college students about the limitations of the food service regulatory system will allow for more informed decisions in the interest of their health and wellness.
The author is a Food Safety expert and an educator.