Food safety is a matter of scrutiny

Daphne’s Greek Cafe puts a major emphasis on self-inspection for food safety and sanitation.

Each month, all 80 of the California-based chain’s units are visited by an area manager. That individual, who is responsible for eight to 10 restaurants, walks through the restaurant with the unit’s general manager to evaluate equipment, cleanliness, and safety measures.

The area managers fill out a checklist that is then reviewed by corporate management, said Sean Allameh, director of operations, who spent the past year and a half refining food safety procedures. “We hit everything from food, to equipment, to safety,” he said. “We review it to find out what we can do as a company to make it even better, and whether we have to provide other tools to make sure they have a safe work environment.”

Daily inspections and follow-through are conducted by general managers and team members, using check sheets kept in a centrally-located book. The so-called green book was added three years ago to organize check lists that were placed in different spots in the restaurants, Allameh said.

Daphne’s bolsters its own inspections with visits from an outside company that inspects everything “from a to z” concerning health codes, Allameh said. “Basically, it is an internal health department,” he said. The company makes suggestions, such as color coding. Daphne’s had used color-coded cutting boards, but added color coded knives to go with them. Another change was moving from opaque to clear bus tubs for product kept in the walk-in.

Preparation schedules are designed with food safety in mind. No prep is done during the lunch rush, which eliminates the chance of food sitting around on tables out of temperature. The prep area is sanitized and all knives are put away.

 “The best thing any company can do is minimize situations with safety concerns,” Allameh said.