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Food safety is a critical aspect of running any restaurant. Compliance with regulatory guidelines related to food safety and quality is essential to ensure customer safety and prevent potential legal issues. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for enforcing food safety regulations.
Recently, the FDA released a report, 2017-2018 Report on Occurrence of Foodborne Illness Risk Factors in Fast Food and Full-Service Restaurants, which revealed more than half of foodborne illness outbreaks are associated with food from restaurants. The two most common food safety issues were improper holding time and temperature, and poor personal hygiene.
There are several key compliance requirements that restaurants must adhere to, including cleanliness, traceability, and menu labeling. And with the recent FDA report, restaurants are in the spotlight to improve compliance and food safety efforts. Below, we cover the basics of each of these safety compliance rules and the right technological solutions that can help:
Compliance Rule: FDA’s FSMA 204 Regulations on Traceability
Another important compliance requirement for restaurants is food traceability, which is critical for identifying the source of any foodborne illness outbreaks and preventing the spread of contaminated food. The FDA requires restaurants to maintain accurate records of any food products received, including information on the supplier, product name, lot number, and the date received. Restaurants must also maintain records of all food products served to customers, including the date and time of service, the quantity of food served, and any customer complaints or issues with that service.
For many restaurants that serve fresh foods or high-risk items on the Food Traceability List, they will be required to maintain additional traceability records, as outlined by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Section 204. Restaurants will be required to comply by January 20, 2026. These traceability regulations are set in place so that restaurants, retail food establishments, and other food businesses can quickly and efficiently identify the source of contamination at the batch-lot level along the supply chain and take appropriate action.
Traceability Technology to Help
To ensure your restaurant has strong traceability efforts in place and can easily access accurate, up-to-date traceability records of your food products, consider investing in a food traceability system like FoodLogiQ’s Traceability. The flexible platform can help restaurants prepare for and ensure compliance when it comes to enhanced traceability recordkeeping for FSMA 204 compliance. Additionally, restaurants can get a complete view of their supply chain, with both whole-chain traceability and one-up, one-down traceability as required by FSMA 204. With the right solution, you can track products along the supply chain, build a more transparent and agile supply network for your company, and more (check out what we’re doing with Salad and Go).
Compliance Rule: FDA’s Menu Labeling Regulations
Since 2018, restaurants with over 20 or more locations are required by the FDA to follow menu labeling regulations. Menu labeling is an important compliance requirement where restaurants must display calorie counts for menu items on their menu board and have other nutritional information available upon customer request. Labeling regulations from the FDA are designed to provide customers with transparent information about the nutritional content of standard menu items to help them make informed dietary choices.
These labeling requirements apply to all types of restaurant operations, including fast food chains, sit-down restaurants, and cafeterias. The menu labeling must be provided in a clear and conspicuous manner, be accurate and up-to-date, and include calorie and nutritional information.
Failure to comply with the menu labeling regulations can result in penalties, fines, and reputational damage. However, compliance with these regulations can also benefit food establishments by promoting transparency, improving customer trust, and helping customers make informed choices about the food they eat.
Menu Labeling Technology to Help
As the FDA continues to implement and enforce stricter food labeling requirements, restaurants need to be equipped with the tools and systems to ensure they’re meeting compliance every step of the way. A system like Trustwell’s Genesis Foods can help restaurants make an accurate nutritional analysis of their food products, so they can properly display calorie counts and develop nutritional information for customer requests. Plus, our team works closely with regulatory experts to ensure Genesis Foods updates when regulations change, such as updated rounding rules of nutrient calculations, which is crucial in our ever-evolving regulatory landscape.
Compliance Rule: Cleanliness and Food Safety Plans
The FDA releases the Food Code with recommendations every so often that provide updates for current good manufacturing practices (CGMP) and other cleanliness practices related to restaurant sanitation to ensure that food is safe for human consumption.
Regulations state that restaurants must maintain a clean and sanitary environment in all areas, including the kitchen, dining area, restrooms, and storage areas. They’re also required to have a food safety plan in place that outlines how they will maintain cleanliness and prevent contamination, which is crucial to keep consumers safe and avoid a costly recall or outbreak scenario.
Food Safety Technology to Help
There are many solutions on the market that can help restaurants stay aligned with evolving FDA code and compliance needs. For example, FoodLogiQ’s Recall can enable restaurants to better keep track of regulatory documents, perform mock recalls (this can significantly help minimize the impact of food product recalls when they happen!), and implement regular inspections – all efforts to ensure the safety and quality of food products in a clean environment and protect your consumers.
Worried About Compliance? Trustwell Can Help.
Restaurants of all types – from fast food chains to sit-down restaurants – must adhere to several key compliance requirements related to food safety to ensure customer safety and prevent legal issues. By maintaining a clean and sanitary environment, prioritizing traceability efforts along the supply chain, and providing customers with information about the nutritional content of menu items, restaurants can feel confident in their ability to remain compliant with FDA regulations and continue to provide a safe and enjoyable dining experience for their customers.
If you’re looking for more guidance on safety compliance for restaurants and how technology can help, connect with our team at Trustwell today.