The pandemic has brought into focus the importance of health and safety.
This includes the role of health and safety in the food industry, where best practices continue to be redefined.
“To overcome the significant financial impact of COVID-19 on the food and beverage industry, professionals in the industry have set high safety standards,” said Wajeana White, instructor in the department of hospitality leadership at Missouri State University.
She’s actively involved in the department’s student-run restaurant, Carrie’s Café.
“They must continue to meet these standards for their businesses to survive and thrive in the long run,” White added.
What food safety standards should consumers look for in the long term? White highlights some defining characteristics of safe dining experiences.
Safety practices in sight, in mind
Taking in the visual environment of restaurants can tell consumers a lot about their standards for cleanliness.
“Cleanliness standards followed by staff at the front of the restaurant tend to apply to procedures followed behind kitchen doors at the back,” White said. “If common areas are dirty and disheveled, then safety and sanitation are most likely not being followed when receiving or preparing food.”
White suggests that restaurant guests familiarize themselves with the specific procedures outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for public safety, as well as the center’s restaurant considerations.
Watching for these procedures’ presence can help ensure that restaurant staff and management follow the guidelines needed to shape safe dining.
“It’s valuable for consumers as restaurant guests to take these accountability measures,” White said, “as poor hygiene practices left unaddressed by management at restaurants can aid in the spread of disease or foodborne illnesses.”
The full scope of food safety
Safety practices considered key for restaurants amidst the pandemic tend to center on sanitation and masking.
While these practices are important, White explains that the scope of food safety goes way beyond them.
“As food industry professionals, we also place significant focus on the way we order food and where from in terms of choosing reliable food sources,” she said. “We further must consider how to handle, cook and store food in our own facilities, as these concerns make safe consumption of food possible.”