How to conduct a food safety audit … the right way

Over the last few years, convenience stores have evolved to be hubs for quick, easy meals and snacks. When you’re on the go, making multiple stops between restaurants, convenience stores and markets just isn’t an effective use of time. So, many c-stores have added food service to their offerings. Casey’s pizza, prepared, sold and delivered right out of a c-store near you is an example of this growth. A survey by AlixPartners shows that prepared food and hot, cold and frozen beverages are the top reasons consumers shop at c-stores, excluding motor fuel. The growth in prepared food service places even more importance on food safety for c-stores.

When ensuring food safety, c-store leaders can’t rely on outdated methods of communication like paper documents, spreadsheets, phone chains or even email. Consumers want and expect fast service. In order to keep up, real-time communication is key with advanced mobile technologies like Action Card. Action Card’s mobile store audit software allows you to completely customize your reviews & location visits with configurable scoring, action plan tracking and trend analysis. 

There are 3 general areas to consider when conducting a food safety audit. 

1. Cleanliness and storage

2. Food temperature

3. Compliance

Cleanliness and Proper Food Storage

Your audit of store cleanliness should include checks from floor to ceiling, and behind. While focus should be given to clean floors and counters, space between kitchen appliances and areas out of direct view should be regularly cleaned and inspected as well so they don’t become breeding grounds for germs, and likely, insects. Ensure handwashing signs and filled soap dispensers are on every sink station.

Proper food storage is crucial to food safety. All food products should be kept in clear, air-tight containers and kept off the floor at all times. Invest in sturdy commercial kitchen shelving that offers enough space for large bulky containers. Meat products should be stored on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator or freezer unit.

Real-time communication is especially helpful to ensure cleanliness is maintained. With Action Card, marking an item on your audit incomplete will immediately create an alert for the person responsible for fixing the problem – eliminating administrative delay.

Food Temperature

Food expires. Storing product at the correct temperature greatly increases shelf life, but it’s important that your refrigerator or freezer is also producing cooled air and circulating it throughout your storage areas correctly. Set multiple thermometers in different spots of your storage areas to measure temperature accurately, near the cooling unit and in a far corner are best. Thermometers should be checked daily and temperatures tracked. Your audit checklist should include fields for each type of food product since proper temperatures for meats and produce can vary.

An easy way to help keep temperatures steady across storage areas is to not pack the area too full. Keep some space between shelving and items so air can flow. 

Food Service Compliance

Consistency and clarity will drive compliance. No matter what your checklist includes, it’s important that standards and expectations are clear because when there’s no question of if it is done right, there’s no reason it should ever be done wrong. 

If something has been done wrong – it happens and it’s okay – remember to be constructive in your review and create positive, actionable items for team members to work on. Check out our blog post on compliance inspections and audit best practices to get more tips. 

We know running an effective audit is just one of a thousand things c-store leaders are concerned with and taking the time to conduct a food safety audit correctly seems time-consuming. However, it must be done to protect your customers and Action Card can take the pressure off. 

If you’re looking for ways to enhance and control your food safety procedures at your c-store, request a short demo of the Action Card app and features.