Posted on: January 30, 2018

Is your restaurant or cafe protecting yourself and your customers from salmonella?

Risk mitigation and insurance for restaurants and cafes

As you might be aware, there was a recent salmonella outbreak in a South Australian bakery, which impacted over 30 people. How would your restaurant or cafe business cope with the direct and indirect costs (such as damage to your brand and reputation) of something like this? Read below for some tips on how you can prevent a salmonella outbreak from occurring, what type of risk management practices you can put in place and what kind of insurance safety nets are available.

About ‘food poisoning’ or foodborne illness like salmonella

Foodborne illness like salmonella lead to unpleasant symptoms, hospitalisations and even death in some cases. Everything from ice cream and lettuce to poultry and nuts can be contaminated by deadly bacteria, viruses and parasites that cause foodborne illness. The threat is further complicated by the fact that the human eye cannot detect whether a food or beverage is infected with a foodborne illness until it’s too late and symptoms arise.

Quick tips for preventing salmonella

  • Cook poultry, ground beef, and eggs thoroughly. Do not eat or drink foods containing raw eggs, or raw (unpasteurised) milk.
  • If you are served undercooked meat, poultry or eggs in a restaurant, don’t hesitate to send it back to the kitchen for further cooking.
  • Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry.
  • Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, the elderly, and the immunocompromised.
  • Wash hands with soap after handling reptiles, birds, or baby chicks, and after contact with pet feces.
  • Avoid direct or even indirect contact between reptiles (turtles, iguanas, other lizards, snakes) and infants or immunocompromised persons.
  • Don’t work with raw poultry or meat, and an infant (e.g., feed, change diaper) at the same time

Source: CDC 

Good restaurant and cafe practices

Preventative measures you can put in place in your restaurant or cafe now:

  • Reinforce good hygiene – Employees should understand how to properly wash their hands and do so frequently to avoid passing on harmful germs to food. They should also know how to maintain food safety when sneezing or coughing—and if possible—stay at home when feeling sick. The use of gloves, utensils or other tools to avoid bare hand contact with food is another way to help prevent transfer of germs from hands to food.
  • Proper cooking – Ensure that foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products and fresh produce (which can contain bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses) reach the correct internal temperature during cooking before being eaten. Don’t rely on your senses, use a properly calibrated food thermometer instead.
  • Regulate and record time/temperature – If temperatures are too hot or too cold, food safety can be compromised. One solution is to use temperature monitoring solutions – time, temperature, delivery records, carriers, location and weather are all recorded and stored, allowing organisations to improve performance, accountability and transparency throughout the entire process.
  • Avoid cross-contamination – Clean and sanitise prep areas properly to reduce the risk of bacteria lingering on surfaces or spreading to other foods prepared there. Raw meat, seafood and eggs should be prepared separately from ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination. Regularly clean and sanitise food prep surfaces and designate certain cutting boards and areas for certain types of food.
  • Follow storage instructions – Proper storage is key to keeping food fresh and safe. Food should be kept in packaging that protects it from contamination and extends its shelf life. Not only will proper storage enhance freshness and reduce illness outbreaks, it will lessen food waste and improve the bottom line.

A focus on food safety allows you to provide your customers with better quality products and greater peace of mind. With greater knowledge of common illness-causing issues, businesses can reduce the occurrence and impact of outbreaks and food recalls ensuring brand protection and higher sales.

The role of insurance in protecting your business

In the case of salomonella, your public and products liability solution is designed to respond to your situation. Public and products liability protects against your legal liability to customers, clients and members of the public, i.e. third parties (not including employees), for bodily injury and property damage arising from your business activities and products. In some cases, the policy can cover the legal costs of investigating and defending a claim made against you, your people or your business. In other cases, insurance may cover lost income for a customer if they contracted salmonella poisoning and were unable to draw income (for example if the customer was a contractor by trade) while they recovered. Public and products liability also protect your business from potential claims from customers slipping, suppliers tripping or even stomach-turning events like a tooth or finger being found in food.

Other types of insurable risks for restaurants and cafes

  • Business insurance – you can protect your building and your contents including damage to your chairs, tables and fitout, along with machinery breakdown (with extensions for loss of stock). Water damage and fire are two of the biggest risks for restaurants, cafes and catering. Business interruption is an important solution to help protect the continuity and sustainability of your business.
  • Management liability (ML) – if you have employees in your restaurant, it’s important to ensure fair treatment. ML can help protect against bullying and harassment claims, discrimination, unfair dismissal and fines from Fair Work.
  • Cyber insurance – as a restaurant or cafe owner you could be exposed if you hold any personal or payment details from your customers or suppliers, or if you suffer a denial of service attack on your website and your customers are unable to order while you’re being held to ransom. We tell clients ‘if you use the internet for your business, you have cyber risk’.

Want to talk about your restaurant or cafe business or get a free quote? Contact us.

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