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August 16, 2022

When I started my career in the industry decades ago, we used NCR (National Cash Register) cash registers and there was no point of sale (POS) system. This means we had to know the price of each menu item and memorize the tax table. And all cashiers can make change without a calculator.

I still remember the panic in my team’s eyes years later when our technology system crashed and they had to break out the emergency kit with price lists, tax charts, calculators, pencils and paper to take orders from eagerly awaited guests. . Things had definitely changed, and the insecurity of this technology terrified them. Technology arrived, and we became completely dependent.

In 1985, a New York Times article written by tech columnist Erik Sandberg-Diment predicted that the laptop would soon die because it was just a “fad.” Of course, at that time, they were very heavy, uncomfortable and expensive, and the Internet did not yet exist. Can you imagine living in a world without Google?

He was wrong. Technology is here to stay, and every day it becomes more diverse, more creative, more necessary and more economical. Those laptops I mentioned earlier cost almost $8,000 before buying additional software. Today we can buy one for hundreds of dollars.

Even with all these technical advances over the past few decades, the food service industry remains hesitant to move away from pen and paper. Change is scary and uncomfortable, so many try to avoid it. But change is necessary, especially when lives are at stake. In the food industry, training, education and technology are essential to protect human life.

Staff training and certification are critical. Without proper training and education, employees can inadvertently make costly mistakes and cause foodborne illness outbreaks that can sicken (or kill) customers. These foodborne illnesses can lead to reduced revenue, high legal fees, lawsuits, reduced customer loyalty, lost employees, and a damaged reputation that could close your doors forever.

These costly and damaging food safety violations often occur in restaurants and other food service areas due to lack of (or inconsistent) employee training and certification. The CDC reports that 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne illness each year. Food safety violations are costly ($55.5 billion annually in the US alone).

That’s why investing in food safety training is one of the smartest things a brand can do to protect their business.

The CDC recommends that restaurants require food safety certification for kitchen managers from high-quality training programs. Research shows that restaurants with kitchen managers certified in food safety are less likely to experience foodborne illness outbreaks. Imparting these basic knowledge to your employees is your due diligence as a business owner.

Employee turnover is higher than usual since the COVID pandemic, and hourly employee turnover is around 194% in our industry. Keeping track of the training of all these employees is almost impossible if you don’t have a reliable system. A pencil and paper will not suffice. Accurate and reliable tracking requires digital technology. It is impossible to fulfill what is needed in today’s world without humans, especially with the global labor shortage that continues to plague the food business.

Restaurants and other food businesses should use a digital software program that can track employee hire dates, active work dates, compliance certificates, internal training certificates and expiration dates, and keep copies of the certificates on file. These systems can save staff man-hours, store relevant data in one location, allow data to be loaded into spreadsheets, reduce food costs, increase accuracy, and more. With FDA’s emphasis on digital technology in the New Era of Smart Food Safety, these platforms are what you need to improve morale, trust, food safety culture and your overall operations.

Food safety training and education has never been more critical to the food service industry than it is today. It’s the smartest investment a food service establishment can make, protecting their communities, customers, employees and brand. Without investing in this preparation, the question is not when the disaster will happen and what the damage will be. No one is immune; some of the biggest names in the industry have been affected by foodborne illness outbreaks. Don’t let it happen to you; invest wisely

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