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Every year, 48 million people end up sick due to a food borne illness. You don’t want to be the restaurant responsible for even one of those illnesses, and we don’t want you to be either. Let’s talk restaurant food safety – what health violations can mean for your restaurant, and what you can do if find yourself with a health violation.

What A Health Violation Means For Restaurants

Preventing food borne illness is more than ensuring the health of your guests and staff, it’s also a critical factor in ensuring the wellbeing of your restaurant and its reputation. There are a few ways a safety violation or a bad food experience could damage your restaurant’s reputation, as well as put your business at risk of financial or legal trouble.

  • Health Inspection Scores, Rating and Grades: New legislation is making it easier for guests to find and understand your recent health inspection findings. Major cities like Los Angeles, New York City and Baltimore have made it easier for potential guests to understand your safety practices (or lack of) by requiring restaurants to display their grades at the front of their business, with other cities like Boston are considering similar measures.
  • Mobile Apps & Online Reviews: The health department website is not the only place guests can find out about your restaurant’s health inspection findings. In a study done by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and Columbia University, it found that some food borne illness outbreaks were not reported to the health department, but could be seen documented on social media sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. In a many government agencies are developing mobile apps make information readily available to the public. Recently, the Santa Clara Department of Environment Health released an iOS app that allows potential diners to access your restaurant’s compliance records with just a few swipes.
  • Word of Mouth: Most of us have a story about a poor dining experience, especially when about 1 in 6 Americans get sick each year from food borne diseases.  If you got sick after dining out, do you keep it a secret? Probably not, as according to the Customer Experience report, 79% of customers tell others about their negative experiences. Once word gets out, one person’s bad experience has prevented a number of potential guests from ever stepping foot in your restaurant.

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You Got A Health Violation. Now What?

So what’s your course of action when you receive a less-than-satisfactory health inspection, a negative online review, or you hear about a bad dining experience at your restaurant?

  1. Work with your local health department to address and fix the violations and gain a better understanding of standards, regulations and requirements for safety in your restaurant. You can search for your state’s health department page here.
  2. Train your staff and keep them informed on the current safety standards and send them for food safety training and certification. September is National Food Safety Month (NFSM) in the United States and aims to bring awareness and educate the public on food safety. You and your staff can keep up to date on the latest food safety news and resources by visiting foodsafetymonth.com and servsafe.com.
  3. Take action when it comes to negative reviews. Read through each review, take their comments seriously, and offer a response in a timely manner. To learn more about how to manage your restaurant’s reputation when it comes to negative reviews, check out Upserve’s latest eBook, You Are What They Read: Learn How to Take Control of Your Reputation…Online and Off.
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Val is a mathematician turned marketing technology geek. If she ever figures out the algorithm for the winning lottery numbers, she'd book a flight to Scotland and explore the area where her cattle-rustling ancestors once lived.
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