The potential revenues associated with prepared foods is an enticing opportunity for supermarkets and grocery stores, but businesses that launch new offerings without an adequate assessment of the project can put themselves and their customers at risk.
“It’s important for [chains and independent grocery stores] to have proper planning in place before they start taking on some of these new products,” said Martin Bucknavage, Senior Food Safety Extension Associate at Penn State, according to Food Safety News. “It’s important for them to really understand what the risks are.”
These risks, ranging from malfunctioning equipment to errors in allergy-related preparation, emphasize the need for a comprehensive plan to prevent underperforming kitchen equipment from compromising customer and staff safety. A preventative service plan can lessen the frequency of repair calls and replacements while ensuring that foods are prepared at correct temperatures by reliable equipment. This is a perfect solution for grocers and supermarkets aiming to expand their prepared food offerings as rapidly as possible.
“A well-maintained kitchen promotes safety and customer satisfaction.”
Keeping equipment in good repair reduces injury risks for staff
Deli, bakery and kitchen employees are most productive when their tools operate the same way on a daily basis. Clean, routinely repaired slicers, fryers and grills are also less likely to put employees at risk for an accident. Conversely, inconsistently maintained equipment increase a business’ risk for unplanned downtime and peril for employees. Unfortunately, these injury risks are pervasive and unpredictable. 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. One of the most efficient ways to eliminate these risks is to leverage the reliable repair schedule and knowledgeable expertise associated with a preventative maintenance program.
Customer health depends on properly maintained ovens, mixers and slicers
The value of comprehensive preventative maintenance 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.
Reliable preventative maintenance plans are comprised of consistent procedures, methodological record keeping and an optimized schedule based on the needs of each piece of equipment. Implementing this type of plan is a challenge in itself, and supermarkets will need to adjust accordingly if they desire to introduce new prepared foods to their customers in a safe, compliant manner.
“Preventative service plans ensure that foods are prepared at consistent temperatures.”
Preventative 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 a year and a half 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 preventative maintenance. Adopting a maintenance solution may also serve as a backup plan if businesses find themselves falling behind their compliance guidelines further into 2016.