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National Restaurant Association - Gearing up for National Food Safety Education Month 2012 — and year-round guest safety

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Gearing up for National Food Safety Education Month 2012 — and year-round guest safety

When Misty and Gary Young bought the Squeeze In restaurant eight years ago, it had no systems, no policies, "not even an official telephone."

The 1,300-square-foot restaurant in Truckee, Calif., was a "little tiny place," with just 13 tables. "It had been around 30 years and had a cult-like following," Misty says.

But taking over a restaurant with no processes was challenging, so the Youngs began to implement training, standardize recipes and make other changes for consistency. They developed a series of videos and training guides on guest service, food safety and other topics. They also partnered with the local health department to improve food safety training.

"One of the most important things is the health and safety of our guests," she says.

The training became increasingly important as the couple added two locations in Reno, Nev. As they planned an out-of-state retreat for their front-of-house managers, Misty discovered the National Restaurant Association's training materials for National Food Safety Education Month.

The materials, which focused on lessons learned from health inspections, included weekly activities and posters in English and Spanish that could be customized for any restaurant. Misty says it was exactly what she was looking for.

She printed copies of the materials and posters and put them in binders for her managers. The managers then developed training scenarios and in-house promotions. Each manager has a monthly $100 budget for staff rewards, so they offered small prizes to employees who correctly answered food safety questions posted on staff bulletin boards.

Misty says the quizzes and contests helped reinforce year-round food safety training messages. "There's always a benefit of reiteration," she says.

Although her 70 employees this week will finish the training exercises, Misty has started planning for Food Safety Education Month 2012.

"I've already put it in my marketing calendar," she says. She plans to send out a news release at the end of August to talk about what the Squeeze In and its employees do to ensure food safety and why, she adds.

"We all have to be hyper-sensitive about the health and safety of ingestibles," she says. "If 10 percent — or even 5 percent — of just the breakfast sector picked up this information, it would make a huge dent in the health and safety of our guests."

Learn more about year-round food safety education through the NRA's ServSafe training and certification program.

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