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Increasing Risks In Food Service Operations

by Andrew Thomson on October 1, 2019

Food service operations (aged care, hospitals, caterers, hospitality) are dragging their feet when it comes to meeting the latest food regulatory and industry standards.

In the last two years there has been: the introduction of international standards for texture modified foods, adoption of food allergens and management into a food safety management program, providing consumers with relevant product information and accurate labelling of food. There is also the issue of food intolerance, which is largely dismissed as a trending fad in some industry sectors while others have inconsistent practices in place which has led to adverse reactions, some with tragic consequences.

Consumer expectations are high, and many have no hesitation in alerting others of risk through the uploading of images to social and mainstream media outlets. Can you handle that?

Modern business practices requires managers overseeing food services operations to take a fresh perspective to better control these risks in a more efficient and effective manner, it then enables more informed business decisions to be made. This requires a focus on being proactive with an ability to examine current and future risks instead of risky reactive approaches. Through the adoption of good risk management practice comes many business advantages.

Adopting proactive risk management approaches changes the way you assess and develop appropriate risk reduction strategies and reporting. In this context under discussion, it involves carefully assessing a process to identify and determine the potential risks and understanding the root cause, assessing probability and impact to prioritise those risks with a tailored contingency plan.

Strategy for moving forward……

Managers need to develop tailored worksite strategies to better manage risk. These include:  

  • Having a high degree of understanding of food (and other) regulatory responsibilities to ensure effective operational control.
  • When it comes to food and the safety of your customers a more in-depth approach to training and compliance procedures is required and this needs to avoid a ‘tick box’ mentality.
  • Food handling employees need quality training to demonstrate the competencies required to produce safe food. The YouTube videos The Competent Food Handler and Food Safety Training – Risks & Opportunities provides sound advice. Food allergen and intolerance training programs are offered by Nutrition Professionals Australia.
  • Hands-on training is required for employees involved in the preparation of texture modified foods. Texture Modified Solutions can assist here. Outbreaks of food-borne illness have been attributed to poorly skilled employees adopting incorrect practices and processes. In some cases, death has resulted.
  • Keeping employees engaged and involved.
  • Introducing digital technology into your operation has many benefits including minimising any inconsistencies with important recording of food safety data. Data analysis is crucial and will assist with making system improvements and better business decisions.

The regulatory landscape continues to change.

Ignoring risks comes at a hefty cost.

Managers need to ensure they receive up-to-date and relevant information from recognised industry specialists to help them with their risk reduction strategies.

Demonstrating safety must be a priority in all aspects of customer care.

Want further information or advice? Contact Andrew Thomson on 0422285720 or

Think ST Solutions helps grow and protect food businesses through innovation and risk reduction strategies.