Routine equipment maintenance helps grocers take in-store safety to new levels

The safety of customers and employees is vital for any business in the food service industry. Just as important as the quality and speed of food preparation is the safety behind how the food is prepared. Grocery stores and supermarkets must take the proper precautions to assure their food preparation equipment is safe for employees to use and prevent food contamination.

Issues with maintenance don’t always arise when companies simply neglect proper safety measures. Sometimes, a lack of understanding of all necessary maintenance procedure can be the root cause. Grocers need to analyze their equipment to prepare for any possible issues.

A routine maintenance plan managed by your staff can lessen the frequency of repair calls and replacements while ensuring that foods are prepared properly by reliable equipment.  Additionally, it can protect the significant investment in equipment grocers make in each of their departments.  With various departments’ needs, from meat slicers in the deli to ovens in the bakery, stores must follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and requirements for each piece of equipment when creating such a plan.

“A well-maintained kitchen promotes, safety, customer satisfaction and increased sales.”

Keeping equipment in good repair reduces injury risks for staff and equipment down-time
Employees in the deli, bakery and meat departments are able to maximize productivity when their tools operate the same way on a daily basis.  Maintaining an appropriate cleaning and maintenance schedule for slicers, fryers and grills can reduce employees risk for an accident. A fryer or grill that isn’t properly cleaned on a regular basis can cause grease build up on the electrical components and ultimately result in a fire.   Additionally, inconsistently maintained equipment increases a business’ risk for unplanned downtime.  Something as simple as a malfunctioning power-assisted loader or complex as a kitchen fire could quickly lead to a serious injury for an unsuspecting worker. However, while chance of injury is never 100% escapable, one of the most efficient ways to eliminate these risks is to leverage a reliable routine cleaning and maintenance schedule and knowledgeable expertise associated with a preventive maintenance program as needed.

Setting schedules to maintain equipment based on their recommended maintenance procedures is one of the best ways to stay on top of maintenance plans. Having exact dates each week or month set to check equipment keeps equipment owners and managers accountable and reminds employees when it’s best to perform these routine activities. Consistency is key to assuring proper maintenance stays on track to avoid any concerns with equipment and goes a long way in protecting your equipment investment.

Customer health depends on properly maintained ovens, mixers and slicers
The value of a comprehensive preventive maintenance program performed by a qualified service professional goes beyond keeping supermarket staff safe from harm. These best practices are also essential for maintaining food safety. Food Safety Magazine emphasized that poorly maintained equipment has played a role in spreading food borne diseases like Botulism and E. Coli. Likewise, prepared food can quickly be contaminated by allergens if equipment is not properly cleaned and maintained on a frequent schedule, contributing serious health risks for customers and potential catastrophes for grocers.

To ensure the health and safety of all involved with the preparation and purchase of prepared foods, reliable preventive maintenance programs must be in effect. These plans are comprised of consistent procedures, methodological record keeping and an optimized schedule.  Implementing a preventive maintenance program requires analysis of the equipment usage to determine appropriate timing and standard parts required. As supermarkets add new prepared foods options to their menus, and add new equipment to their departments, they should consider including a professional preventive maintenance program as well.

“Preventive service plans can help avoid catastrophic equipment failure and improve equipment operation.”

Preventive measures prepare businesses for updated federal regulations
All eyes in the food industry are on the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a new set of compliance regulations set to go into effect in September 2016. Many companies will be required to hand in food safety strategies to comply with FSMA guidelines. Depending on the nature of the business and the size of the company, food industry members will have anywhere from six months to eighteen months to comply.

Industry experts are encouraging food providers to begin making changes in operations to comply with the new regulations as soon as possible, according to Supermarket News. Performing a food safety risk assessment and updating company policy is a great place for businesses to start, as is identifying opportunities to meet compliance through preventive maintenance. Adopting a maintenance solution may also serve as a backup plan if businesses find themselves falling behind their compliance guidelines further into 2016.