Aug 30, 2016 | EcoSure Food Safety Monitor

By Miriam Eisenberg, MS, RD, CP-FS

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We unfortunately know all too well the unpredictability and impact of Mother Nature. There have recently been floods, wildfires and tornadoes. Now we are entering the start of hurricane season. How ready are you? 

You can start by reviewing your emergency procedures. Check with your corporate offices to see what guidance and procedures already exist. Of course, it is not only about protecting your food but knowing how to protect your staff and guests. 

This newsletter cannot sufficiently address a complete emergency plan, but it will provide some top-level guidance and direct you to some excellent resources from the Conference for Food Protection, the organization that makes recommendations to the FDA for Food Code.

Some of the basics:

  • Plan ahead and have practice drills. You will not have much notice when a tornado warning goes off or sudden storms appear, so you must plan ahead so your staff is trained on what to do, where to go and how to guide guests to safety. Consider the following:
    • Do you have contact information for all your staff members if power is knocked out?
    • Do you have emergency contacts for everyone?
    • Who do you contact from your corporate office?
  • Connect with state and local health departments for their information as well. For hurricane, blizzard and tornado-prone areas, specific guidance might be available.
  • Have a plan for what to do ahead of time when a storm is pending as in hurricane locations. Work with your corporate owners for a plan.
  • Each location should have a written plan, checklists and FDA guidelines available.
  • A good reopening plan is crucial not just from a business perspective but very often the food service community is the salvation of those more severely impacted by storms.
    • When possible, food service venues want to reopen as soon as possible to support and feed the community so reactivating operations and assuring the safety of your facility and food supply will be paramount.
    • Work with your local health department as needed to reopen.

Additional emergency preparedness resources: