The Benefits of Hygiene Audits for Company Canteens and Cafeterias

Company canteens and cafeterias are an essential part of many workplaces, providing employees with a convenient and affordable option for meals during the workday. However, it is the company’s responsibility to ensure the safety of its workers as per the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993. This includes maintaining high hygiene standards in canteens and cafeterias to promote the health and well-being of employees.

Top 6 Benefits of Hygiene Audits for Canteens and Cafeterias

Many countries have strict regulations governing the operation of company canteens and cafeterias as they are considered 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.

1. Preventing Foodborne Illness

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.

2. Ensures Regulatory Compliance

The audit also entails regulatory compliance. For example, in South Africa, we have Regulations R638 of 2018, which details the requirements for food premises. Having an independent auditor coming to the site to do an audit may assist in ensuring that the canteen or cafeteria 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.

3. Maintains Productivity

Foodborne diseases such as listeriosis and Salmonella typhi can harm 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.

4. Demonstrates Commitment Towards the Health and Safety of Staff

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.

5. Enchances Requtation

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.

6. Promotes Continuous Improvement and a Good Food Safety Culture

A hygiene audit system provides a framework for ongoing monitoring and improvement of canteen hygiene practices. This also the canteen to improve over time 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 a 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 workforce 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.

Basic Steps to Implement an Effective Hygiene Audit System

Implementing a hygiene audit system requires careful planning and execution to ensure its effectiveness. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Establish Objectives: Clearly define the objectives of the hygiene audit system. Determine what specific aspects of hygiene you want to evaluate, such as food handling practices, cleanliness of facilities, or compliance with regulations.
  2. Identify Applicable Standards: Research and identify the relevant hygiene standards and regulations applicable to your industry and location. This could include local health department guidelines, food safety regulations, and industry best practices.
  3. Develop Audit Criteria: Based on the objectives and standards identified, develop a set of audit criteria or checklists to assess hygiene practices and conditions. These criteria should be comprehensive, covering all relevant areas of hygiene.
  4. Train an Auditor: Select and train an auditor who will conduct the hygiene audits. Ensure they understand the audit criteria, procedures, and the importance of maintaining objectivity and consistency throughout the audit process.
  5. Schedule Audits: Establish a schedule for conducting hygiene audits, taking into account the frequency required to maintain compliance with regulations and standards. Consider factors such as peak operating hours and seasonal variations in workload.
  6. Conduct Audits: Execute the hygiene audits according to the established schedule. Auditors should thoroughly inspect all areas of the canteen or cafeteria, including food preparation areas, storage facilities, dining areas, and restrooms.
  7. Document Findings: During the audit, document observations, findings, and any non-compliance issues identified. Use standardized forms or digital tools to record audit results consistently.
  8. Communicate Results: Share audit findings with relevant stakeholders, including management, kitchen staff, and facility maintenance personnel. Communicate areas of non-compliance and corrective actions required to address deficiencies.
  9. Implement Corrective Actions: Develop and implement corrective action plans to address any hygiene deficiencies identified during the audit. Assign responsibilities, set deadlines, and monitor progress to ensure timely resolution.
  10. Monitor and Review for Ongoing Compliance: Continuously monitor hygiene practices and conditions in the canteen or cafeteria to ensure ongoing compliance. Conduct periodic reviews of the audit system to assess its effectiveness and identify opportunities for improvement.
  11. Provide Training and Education: Offer regular training sessions and educational resources to employees to enhance their understanding of hygiene practices and reinforce compliance with audit standards.
  12. Review and Update the Audit Criteria and Procedures: Regularly review and update the audit criteria and procedures to reflect changes in regulations, industry standards, or organisational requirements.

If this sounds daunting and you are unsure how to get the ball rolling, ASC Consultants can assist you with implementing a cost-effective hygiene audit system. We also provide independent hygiene auditing services and certification. You are welcome to get in touch with us!


Conclusion

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.

Have you ever conducted a hygiene audit for your company canteen or cafeteria? Let us know in the comments section below.

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