When it comes to food safety, how transparent are public restaurant companies? Consumers are already strident in their calls for better food safety and more transparency around ingredients, and now investors are starting to take company boards to task around their food safety efforts.
In the report "Food Safety: In a State of Transformation," Cornerstone Capital Group (CCP) examined a sample of 14 publicly traded restaurant companies to better detail just what is being disclosed about food safety efforts to investors and consumers alike.
In this post, we'll dive into the drivers behind the questions being asked by investors and consumers, including increased consumer awareness and new food safety regulations.
Consumer awareness around restaurant food safety
Per the report, there are 5 main factors driving the restaurant food safety conversation. One of the biggest drivers is the increasing awareness of consumers:
"Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of food safety issues, and are demanding increased transparency from companies. In both developed and developing markets, a number of high-profile food safety incidents have led to heightened consumer awareness. The proliferation of mobile devices and social media is accelerating this trend. Information travels more quickly, thereby diminishing the ability of companies to control the message that comes out of a food safety incident."
Consumer awareness has also driven the perception that food producers and restaurants aren't doing enough.
The data is clear. Information around food safety and transparency made publically available to consumers and investors can drive trust, increased brand equity and a loyal following. There is real value to taking advantage of these trends and getting in front of them.
What companies are making the effort in this area? Panera is one example. They have long been dedicated to a cleaner supply chain, with their "No No" list of over 80 ingredients that have been phased / are being phased out of their supply chain.
NEW REGULATIONS AROUND RESTAURANT FOOD SAFETY
With the advent of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011, food safety systems began a switch from reactive (government monitoring of outbreaks & incidents) to proactive (addressing risk in the supply chain itself). General compliance around these rules began this month, with certain requirements allowing for more time for implementation.
For restaurants, this means a proactive approach to suppliers throughout your entire chain. Mitigating risk before food items arrive at the restaurant is a key consideration from the CCP report:
"...but we view the FDA’s increased ability to mandate product recalls and suspend production as a key change. Previously, companies voluntarily recalled products that were identified as posing risks to human health. The FDA can now force companies to recall products, potentially changing how companies must react to food safety issues and altering the reputational risk landscape."
Are you prepared to face a food recall? Ensuring a proactive food safety plan is in place at the supplier level is an effective solution to mounting FSMA regulation and this atmosphere of increasing food recalls.
What should companies do?
Addressing consumer awareness and regulatory compliance is a tall task. Thankfully, software platforms like FoodLogiQ Connect can trace end-to-end across your supply chain, giving you the necessary data to verify your brand claims, whether they be "farm-to-fork" or "organic," as well as comply with FSMA regulations by bringing your audit and compliance procedures under a single source of truth.
If you don't steer your ship into these headwaters, someone else will beat you to the punch . They'll also reap the benefits of being ahead.
Interested in seeing how FoodLogiQ Connect can support your restaurant's food safety efforts?