There is no such thing as “someone else’s problem” when it comes to keeping customers safe. It doesn’t matter whether you work in the front or the back of the house; food safety is everyone’s problem.

As such, you need to make sure your restaurant follows these five ironclad golden rules:

Ignorance Is Not an Excuse

Everyone, from the server to the busboy to the line cook, has to know basic food handling procedures

It doesn’t matter if it’s not part of their job; a restaurant is a busy place, and sooner or later someone is going to be called upon to assist another team member. When that happens, you need to be confident they know how to act properly to keep diners safe. 

You can take it a step further and give a couple of employees HACCP training, so they can pass the knowledge to the rest of the team. 

Do the Job Right

Most food safety problems can be eliminated by doing the job properly. 

Mopping the floor? Don’t just push water around. Clean thoroughly so you can sanitize hidden danger zones. Prepping ingredients? Wash hands thoroughly and store food properly. Washing the dishes? Eliminate food stains and reduce the risk of contamination. 

Everyone’s task has the potential to protect or harm a patron. If you don’t take it seriously, the health inspector will. 

Clean as You Go

Keep your stations clear. Paper towels are cheap; health inspections are not. Wipe down every surface after use and store unused equipment.

Take special care of storing ingredients and cooked food. Don’t let items sit out of the heater or freezer. Return food supplies immediately when finished. 

Cleaning as you go increases food safety, reduces accidents, and speeds up work, but it also helps make your spring cleaning efforts easier, since there won’t be as much buildup of grime. 

If You See Something, Say Something

Again, food safety is everyone’s problem. Call attention to risks the moment you see them, whether it’s a fire hazard, health hazard or otherwise. Stay quiet, and the problem will balloon to a much bigger issue. 

On the flip side, don’t get territorial about your work. If a server points out a potential food hazard, heed their warning. Don’t snap back just because they’re “telling you how to do your job.”

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Speaking of which, your restaurant’s work environment has to foster open communication between teams. There is no place for “kitchen vs server” rivalries, or cultures where nobody is allowed to talk back or speak up. 

Team members need to be able to communicate with each other, and with you as the owner, without fear of rejection or ridicule. That’s the only way you’ll be able to help each other maintain a clean and safe restaurant for your diners. 

Don’t put the burden of safety on a few shoulders. Get everyone involved! When your team cooperates, your customers will be able to enjoy a safe, delicious and memorable dining experience that they will be happy to share with their friends.