Food Safety: How to Protect Your Franchise

Kathy DouglasBusiness Insurance

Every day, stories about food safety issues dominate the headlines, from Chipotle’s famous contamination crisis to Dole’s bagged salad recall to the recent CRF Frozen Foods listeria scare. Contamination and illness issues present one of the greatest risks to the food industry.

If you own a franchise, you may unexpectedly find yourself in the spotlight because of a foodborne illness event in your store or because one of your suppliers experiences a contamination that impacts your food supply.  Stringent food safety procedures are critical throughout the food supply chain process.  While bacteria don’t have memories, consumers do, and a contamination event can have a swift and major impact on your company brand and profits.

So how you can you ensure the food you’re providing in your franchise is safe for your customers and that you’re protected from any potential risks?

  • Start with what you have the most control over.  Institute stringent food safety protocols within your franchise and spend time and money training your workers and enforcing and reinforcing the importance of food safety.  From thorough hand washing, to wearing and frequently changing gloves to constantly cleaning food prep surfaces, cutting boards and utensils to prevent cross-contamination, be sure to stress cleanliness and safe food preparation.
  • Monitor your supply chain.  Make sure that you’re constantly monitoring your supply chain and conduct random food product tests.  It won’t matter if you have stringent food preparation practices in place if the products you’re serving are contaminated.  Also make sure that imported and domestic fruits and vegetables are properly scrubbed and sanitized and, if they’re being cooked, heated enough to kill any E.coli bacteria.
  • Prepare for the unknown.  A crisis can hit at any time.  Make sure that you have a crisis communication plan in place to quickly respond to an issue through all channels to all audiences – from the media, to social media, to consumers, to government officials and regulators, to employees.  Don’t wait for a crisis to hit to think through what you would do.
  • Protect yourself. Manage your liability by meeting with your insurance agent to discuss risk management and the right type of insurance to adequately protect your franchise if a contamination event were to occur.  Often, general liability insurance will not cover all aspects of a food safety issue, which may require Food Contamination Insurance. Make sure you work with a firm that specializes in the food industry and takes the time to sit down and discuss your unique needs to customize the right level coverage for you.

Consumers trust the restaurants they frequent to ensure the food they’re purchasing and eating is safe for their families. However, 74% of consumers feel that fast food restaurants should monitor food safety more closely and the headlines speak for themselves when it comes to the importance of food safety procedures.  Make sure you’re protected by demanding stringent food safety practices and insuring yourself against any potential issues.

Kathy Douglas

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management

Sinclair 7-22-15-3