10 Steps to Handling Food Safety In a Restaurant Establishment

Opening a new restaurant can be extremely daunting and stressful at times. There are so many things you need to think about, for example the menu creation, staff hiring, choosing the right location and name. By the time your restaurant opens you want to ensure that your new venture has ticked all the boxes, and that you have implemented a sufficient systems approach to food safety that answers public health concerns, reduces hygiene risks, and ensures satisfaction for food establishment guests and staff members. 

International Hotel School Online offers a comprehensive short course called Food Safety: Managing with the HACCP Process course. This course will provide you with in depth knowledge of hygiene quality, cost control, and risk reduction standards in a food service operation. The programme will also cover the causes of food contamination and infections. Before you run out and open your restaurant, or if you are currently managing a restaurant, here are 10 steps to help you handle a foodborne illness complaint.

10 steps to handling a foodborne illness complaint:

Step 1: Just one person in the operation, usually the manager, should be responsible for the investigation. It is important that this person keeps accurate and detailed records, since these records may be beneficial during a health department investigation.

Step 2:  Listen to the complaint. The interviewer should be courteous and should avoid arguing with the complainant. You should not talk about similar problems that have occurred in the past.

Step 3: Get the facts. Keep a supply of complaint recording forms on hand. Record all the relevant information.

Step 4: Promptly and properly evaluate the guest complaint. Contact people who dined with the complainant to determine whether they experienced similar symptoms. If so the investigator should identify other people who ate the same foods and contact them.

Step 5: The Health Department should be promptly notified if the complaint appears to be valid. It is the obligation of the health department to investigate foodborne illness outbreaks.

Step 6: Isolate the suspected food products, if samples are still available. By this time the responsible person should have an idea of which food caused the suspected outbreak. Take suspected foods out of circulation and place in sanitized dated containers and label them DO NOT USE- SUSPECTED SOURCE OF FOODBORNE ILLNESS.

Step 7: Cooperate with the health department. Tell them everything accurately and quickly. They will be able to determine whether guests who could not be identified or located have filed similar complaints with the health department office.

Step 8: Take corrective action to reduce further risks. The manager of a business implicated in an outbreak of foodborne disease has a powerful incentive to evaluate the operations staff members training, its system of food handling and its overall Supplier Relationship Management program. Corrective measures should address human hazards, product hazards, equipment hazards and facilities hazards. The Health Department is usually willing to suggest procedures for corrective action.

Step 9: Close the complaint with the guest. When the investigation is complete it is time to contact the complainant and apologise. Some operations offer their money back, a free meal or a small gift. Most guests want you to listen to their complaints with understanding and reassure them that the problems will not recur. It is a good strategy to do as the guest suggests, regardless of the short term cost.

Step 10: Index all complaints - The person responsible for the investigation should maintain a file of complaint record forms.


To register today, email us at online@hotelschool.co.za or call us on 0861 44 33 00 to chat to a consultant. If you would like to know more about our Short Courses,  Specialisations, Higher Certificates or Diplomas then go to www.hotelschool.co