Food safety is of utmost concern for all restaurants. While a vegan establishment might not serve meat or dairy products, it is still possible to have contaminated food make its way to your patrons. These four steps will help your vegan restaurant to be shrewd and cautious about food suppliers and sources.
Research Inspection Results
Any supplier or distributor of food undergoes inspection by local, state, or federal agencies. You can research the inspection results to see if any of your restaurant's food suppliers have had recent violations. Even something that seems like a minor violation, such as stacking unwashed lettuce on top of washed lettuce could lead to a significant outbreak of food-borne illness.
Schedule Food Safety Testing
It is important to schedule food safety testing for the foods that are used in your restaurant. For example, your suppliers could provide samples of a variety of their foods and have them tested for bacterial, viral, and parasitic contaminants. Some companies, like Agrifood Technology, provide these type of services for food suppliers. You might also consider purchasing food safety testing equipment for other possible contaminants, such as arsenic or lead that could have been in the soil where the food was grown.
Inspect the Delivery Trucks
You may want to inspect the delivery trucks for odors, broken containers, or leaky coolers. Delivery trucks should have properly functioning refrigeration and freezer systems. Even if the supplier's facility is clean and had perfect inspection results, it is possible that the delivery trucks could be unsanitary. Look for residue, check the thermometer, and sniff for unusual odors.
Ask About Supplier Sources
Consider asking about where your suppliers source their food from. Inquire about whether they know the farmers, and if the sources are small or large-scale operations. Any growing technique could result in food contamination. For example, organic fields could use manure as a fertilizer, resulting in E. coli in the produce. Find out if the suppliers keep track of lot numbers for each shipment and whether or not they retain a sample from each lot in case testing is needed.
It is always best to err on the side of safety when it comes to the potential for food contamination. Be sure to have your staff take food safety awareness classes. Educate your workers about the importance of following all safety procedures and take action if they do not. If a supplier does not uphold your standards, be sure to find another supplier that will meet your expectations.