5. Provide relevant instructions to the questions. A food safety audit form without any audit instructions is trouble. If the auditor has to rely on memory, you’re opening yourself up to inconsistent evaluations. Make sure every question on your audit form has the necessary evaluation guidelines, thus eliminating any guesswork.
6. Consider workflow when organizing questions. When determining the order of the food safety audit form questions, keep in mind the restaurant’s logistics and workflow. Put yourself in the shoes of the auditor so that you can be certain the questions flow the way the restaurant was built. That assures the auditor will be able to efficiently conduct the evaluation one restaurant section at a time, instead having to jump back and forth.
7. Keep the list of questions short and relevant. The food safety audit form questions must help you drive change and improve food safety. Make sure each question on the audit fits this goal. As you look over each question on your audit form, ask yourself, does this question track information that we need to drive performance? And, is this question still relevant to my restaurants?
8. Use an automated platform. This continues the previous discussion of using dynamic forms instead of flat forms (see No. 2 best practice). It comes down to conducting your food safety audits with the latest cloud-based, mobile software technology and leaving behind the old days of electronic spreadsheets or paper and pencil. The inconvenience of updating spreadsheets or paper forms will prevent you from making the critical changes that will keep your restaurant safe. Following up via email to keep everyone in the loop about policy changes is highly ineffective.
If you want to effectively implement these best practices, you must use a mobile auditing platform. Such a platform can populate your food safety auditing form with either the FDA Food Code or your own policies. You’ll have access at the corporate level to change policies at any time, and these policies are instantly synced across the entire enterprise. Automated forms enable you to increase auditor consistency, track real-time data, perform corrective action, and ensure that each of your locations receives a quality evaluation.
“People have to wear a lot of hats in corporate offices. There simply isn’t time to keep track of all the data you need with paper, Excel spreadsheets, or email chains back and forth. There are too many things that fall through the cracks and you waste a lot of time,” says Joe Ventimiglia, Checkers’ systems operations services manager.
According to managers at Arby’s franchisee organization Brumit Restaurant Group, switching to an automated, cloud-based system cut its food safety audit time in half
9. Demand accountability. When food safety audits are designed and implemented properly, they can help improve a restaurant’s performance. But audits must have built-in accountability. When there isn’t any accountability, then it’s a waste of resources.
That’s why restaurants need to ensure there is a corrective action identified for each item on the food safety audit and focus on: first, fixing it for today (immediate correction) and second, fixing it for forever (long term to prevent repeats).
In conclusion, every restaurant not only needs to regularly conduct food safety audits but also do so using these best practices. A restaurant’s reputation is worth protecting and preserving.
Slagle, previously regional vice president of sales at Steton, has extensive experience in using mobile, cloud-based technology for food safety audits. For further information, contact [email protected].