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101 Ways to Deal with Food Cost - Part 5 - Safety & Security

Ian Said
by Ian Said February 26, 2012
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In this month’s Food Cost article we take a look at “Security and Safety” when dealing with restaurant food cost problem areas, part 5 in our current series “101 Ways to Deal with Food Cost”.

The food is great, the service fabulous and the restaurant is busier than ever, but are you wondering why the bottom line isn’t all it should be? Check your FOOD COST! Here are possible food cost problem areas:

Guest Check and Cash Drawer Security

Never make an outgoing check to cash, and don’t accept them either. With a ‘cash’ check anyone could deposit the check as his or her own, or worse: the receiver of the check could bank it and claim it never arrived. Your check is always your last chance for a receipt, and security of that check is paramount.

Bank Deposit / Accounts Payable

Proper auditing of bank deposits and charges slips must be conducted to ensure all deposits were made and to account for missing checks. Upon receipt of the bank statement, don’t put it aside for your accountant; reconcile it yourself and you will gain new insight into the business and close the last loophole where money could escape.

Safety procedures

Keep equipment in working order and ensure that equipment, tools, machinery and substances are in safe condition. Talk to your workforce about safety in the workplace and encourage open discussion. Ensure staff training takes place, offer information and supervision for all workers. Implement processes to inform workers and involve them in decisions that may affect their health and safety at work.

Kitchen Safety Procedures

Ensuring your patrons and staff aren’t injured on the premises is more than a matter of caring for their well being; it’s an essential part of avoiding a business threatening lawsuit and lengthy downtime. Labour and food saving, insurance saving, workers’ compensation reductions and sick pay savings, not to mention staying out of civil court, all come from putting safety procedures in place and sticking to them. Post safety signs, usually available for free from your local department of health or labour, are posted about your kitchen. These will include details on how to lift heavy items safely, directions on proper signage for slippery floors and dangerous equipment as well as rules on who handles jobs like lighting gas pilots, changing light bulbs and sharpening knives.

The High Cost of Food-Borne Illness


Food-borne illness cost lives and money. According to the FDA, millions of people become sick each year and thousands die after eating contaminated or mishandled foods. Children, the elderly and people with weakened immune system are especially vulnerable to food-borne illness.

What makes food unsafe?


Hazards can be introduced into Foodservice operations in numerous ways by employees, food, equipment cleaning supplies and customers. The hazards may be biological or physical.
What can you and your staff do to prevent Food Borne Illness? An important part of the production is keeping food safe. Make sure you have HACCP procedure in place and train your kitchen staff in food safety.

Weighting the Risks

Certain foods and food service procedures are more hazardous than others. High protein foods, such as meats and milk based products and foods that require a lot of handling during preparation require special attention by food service operations. Roast beef, turkey, ham and Chinese foods, for instance, have been linked with more outbreaks of food-borne illness than pizza, barbecued meat or eggs salad, yet all of these foods are considered potentially hazardous. Other foods, such as garlic in oil, rice, melon and sprouts, also have been linked with outbreaks of food-borne illness.

Hand Washing Exercise

Stock Control Hand washEnsure employees wash their hands. ‘Are your hands really clean?’ Hand washing is perhaps the most critical aspect of good personal hygiene in food service. Workers should wash their hands with soap and warm water for 20seconds. When working with food, they should wash gloved hands as often as bare hands. Hand washing is a simple yet effective method for eliminating cross contamination.

Cautions for Cold Foods

When you are preparing cold foods, you are at one of the most hazardous points in the food preparation process. There are two key reasons for this: First, cold food preparation usually takes place at room temperature. Second, cold food is one of the most common points of contamination and cross-contamination.

Food Irradiation

You should know that if you buy irradiated food, it will cost more. Industry experts estimate the increase at 2-3 cents per pound for fruits and vegetables and 3-5 cents a pound for meat and poultry products. But these costs may be offset by advantages such as keeping a product fresh longer and enhancing its safety. However, the treatment will also bring benefits to consumers in terms of availability and quantity, storage life convenience and improved hygiene of the food. Federal rules require irradiated foods to be labeled as such to distinguish them from non irradiated foods.

For more info on Ideal Software’s Stock Control system for monitoring your Food Cost IdealStockControl
To view Part 1 in our series “101 Ways to deal with Food Cost” 33 Possible Food Cost Problem Areas
To view Part 2 in our series “101 Ways to deal with Food Cost” Back to Basics
To view Part 3 in our series “101 Ways to deal with Food Cost” The Menu, Pricing & Standardized Recipes
To view Part 4 in our series “101 Ways to deal with Food Cost" Purchasing & Receiving


Ian Said
Owner, IdealSoftware.co.za

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