What Are Benefits of Hygiene Audits in Canteens?
Company canteens are an essential part of many workplaces, providing employees with a convenient and affordable option for meals during the workday. However, it is the responsibility of companies to ensure the safety of their workers as per the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993. This includes maintaining high standards of hygiene in canteens to promote the health and well-being of employees.
Many countries have strict regulations governing the operation of company canteens as they are seen as high-risk areas for workers. For example, a scrupulous competitor could poison the canteen buffet or salad bar to ensure your worker productivity is reduced or a disgruntled worker could deliberately contaminate the food. Therefore, a hygiene audit system can help companies ensure they avoid these risks and protect their employees.
Implementing a hygiene audit system in company canteens not only helps improve food safety but also addresses the potential risks and hazards that could affect worker safety. For example, cross-contamination, improper food storage, or inadequate cleaning practices can not only lead to foodborne illnesses but also pose risks to the physical safety of employees. The audit also entails regulatory compliance. For example, in South Africa we regulation R638 of 2018, which details the requirements for food premises. Having an independent auditor coming to site to do an audit may assist in ensuring that the canteen complies with the basic regulatory requirements. This could range from effective pest control, effective personnel hygiene and facility hygiene, waste control and temperature control. If all these are effectively implemented, this can reduce the likelihood of foodborne illnesses.
Foodborne diseases such as listeriosis and Salmonella typhi can have a negative impact on productivity. When employees fall ill due to these illnesses, it results in increased absenteeism and decreased productivity. By implementing a robust hygiene audit system, companies can proactively prevent such foodborne diseases, ensuring the well-being of their workforce and maintaining productivity levels.
In addition to the benefits mentioned earlier, companies that prioritize worker safety and implement a hygiene audit system demonstrate their commitment to compliance with regulations, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993. This helps companies avoid penalties or legal issues related to worker safety.
Furthermore, a clean and well-maintained canteen enhances the company’s reputation among employees, customers, and other stakeholders. This positive image can lead to increased employee satisfaction, improved customer loyalty, and a favourable perception in the community.
A hygiene audit system provides a framework for ongoing monitoring and improvement of canteen hygiene practices. This also the canteen to improve overtime and also ensures skills transfer from the auditor to the person in charge of the premises or even the rest of the team. This then improves the food safety culture of the organisation.
How To Implement a Hygiene Audit System?
Implementing a hygiene audit system requires a comprehensive approach that involves training staff, establishing standard operating procedures, and conducting regular audits. By reviewing all aspects of the canteen environment, including food storage, preparation areas, equipment, utensils, and employee hygiene practices, companies can ensure a safe and hygienic working environment.
To streamline the audit process and improve data collection and analysis, companies should consider training food handlers on basic food safety, implementing a basic food safety system and using it as guide for auditing purposes. In addition, canteen compliance should form part of the company’s risk management plan. One can just imagine what could happen to a company if its entire work force is sick because of a food safety incident and no one can work. This could have a massive negative impact on the company’s bottom line.
Implementing a hygiene audit system in company canteens not only promotes food safety but also ensures worker safety as per occupational health and safety regulations. By preventing foodborne illnesses, companies can maintain a healthy workforce and avoid the negative impact on productivity. Additionally, this demonstrates a commitment to compliance, enhances reputation, saves costs, and promotes continuous improvement in canteen hygiene practices.