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The real cost of food safety failings

Food safety failings bring significant costs to restaurants and other food service businesses. Damage to reputation, lost business and legal fines can be potentially crippling. Here we count the cost of getting it wrong.

The rise of consumer rating platforms and the ease of posting reviews on various social media platforms enable customers to share their experience of your venue instantly with thousands of people. As people are increasingly aware of food safety issues, potential new customers are likely to look up not just the latest reviews, but also your food hygiene rating.

Consumers take food hygiene ratings seriously and it has a real impact on where they decide to dine: a recent survey by Checkit showed that 61 per cent would not visit a restaurant with a food hygiene rating of two or less. Effectively, poor food safety management could mean that you are losing customers before they even set foot inside your establishment.

It also increases the risk of being implicated in a food poisoning incident: with over a million cases each year leading to fines of up to £1.5 million, food safety is an area most businesses can’t afford to take lightly. Unfortunately, there are still multiple examples of poor food hygiene each year, and the financial impacts can be long-lasting. For example, Mexican grill chain Chipotle had a series of highly-publicised food poisoning issues in 2015, resulting in a 44 per cent drop in quarterly profits and a 40 per cent drop in share prices, erasing nearly 11 billion dollars of the company’s value.

On top of the direct financial consequences, the other less measurable result is the damage done to a restaurant’s reputation. Once the news is out, there is no way of controlling the speed it spreads or how far it reaches.

So, what can you do protect your business? The only sure fire way to avoid these incidents is to pre-empt them. Technology, together with staff training, can help build a strong culture of food hygiene. Digital food safety management systems can help enforce easy-to-implement hygiene routines and provide a full audit trail which can help prove that high standards have been maintained.

Investing in consistent food safety helps protect the continuity and reputation of your business, and it is vital to do so before any incident occurs, otherwise you could be left counting the cost.

 

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