The food and beverage industry has long served as an entry point to entrepreneurship for the Latino community. From small mom & pop grocers and neighborhood bodegas to serving classic Latin cuisine, such as Mexican, Cuban and Caribbean food. Yet, as you embark on your journey into the world of food entrepreneurship, the safety of your products is a top priority. From small-scale eateries to large-scale manufacturers, the stakes are high when it comes to safeguarding the health and well-being of consumers.
While you begin your entrepreneurial journey as a craft beer brewer or a local jam maker, you can’t afford to ignore food safety risks. While it may be tempting to assume that legal compliance with food safety standards is all it takes. You need to assess the likelihood of risks arising in your business. Indeed, food safety issues are not caused by businesses not caring about food. They are the result of micro-failures along the way.
Where do risks come from and what are the key practices that new businesses can adopt to mitigate food safety risks and set themselves up for success?
Missing a Safety Step
Before delving into specific strategies, it’s crucial to understand the fundamental principles of food safety. From proper storage and temperature control to preventing cross-contamination. Adherence to best practices is essential. It may seem obvious that by establishing robust protocols for food handling, you can minimize the risk of contamination and ensure the integrity of your products.
But in reality, things could be different. Stressed or overworked employees could accidentally overlook some essential safety principles. For example, temp workers coming to help during busy periods may accidentally contaminate products if they don’t know some of the food handling rules.
For small businesses, investing in the right equipment can be costly, so you may decide to buy second-hand. Is your equipment fit for the job?
Inadequate sterilization can leave products vulnerable to harmful bacteria, posing significant health risks to consumers. This could happen with a faulty steam valve, for example. So, if you buy second-hand, make sure to replace all essential components. Switching to quality parts, such as a Kunkle valve, could be enough to guarantee safe sanitization without breaking the bank on new equipment.
Not Trusting Your Suppliers Blindly
Your suppliers play a critical role in the safety and quality of your ingredients. By partnering with reputable suppliers who adhere to stringent safety standards, you can ensure the reliability of the ingredients used in your products.
So, how do you best vet your suppliers to ensure you can trust them? Ideally, you want to do your due diligence before hiring them. This can include verifying certifications, checking current reviews, asking how they select and prepare the food, etc. You also want to maintain open lines of communication after you’ve selected them.
Training & Education
Your employees are your first line of defense against food safety risks. Providing comprehensive training on proper hygiene practices, sanitation protocols, and allergen management is essential for equipping your team with the knowledge and skills they need to mitigate risks effectively. This sounds like a no-brainer. But in reality, a lot of businesses provide only training in written forms and fail to organize regular refresher courses and ongoing education initiatives. This can make a huge difference.
In conclusion, there’s more to food safety than ticking the standard boxes. You want to equip your business to mitigate food safety risks easily. This means accepting that things may not be perfect from the start and planning to overcome those limitations, whether it is stressful work schedules, budget-friendly equipment, or tough-to-digest training manuals!
After all, your not just engaging in any business, you are feeding your community!
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