Albert, our friend in France, has some things to say about restaurant inspections, the various certifications and what they really mean. Translation into English by Amy Hubbell.
This question was already raised in an article on food safety and communication in food service in May 2011. Now La Dépêche is reporting "Three tables certified for good behavior" (7 June 2012).
Is this about putting scores on doors in France?
Is it about a controlled inspection that has just certified the hygiene holy grail?
And well no… but let’s just see what it’s about:
“A master restaurateur and his team chose to take a year to prepare to get the hygiene certification logo from the Food Service Food Safety Association (ASAR), validated by the BVC (audit office and council). This means that this professional obtained a minimum of 70% compliance out of 330 evaluation points. “My team and I have been tested over an entire day,” explained the restaurateur. “It’s an extremely thorough evaluation that leaves nothing to chance in matters of hygiene and food quality. From maintenance of the kitchen up to the quality of referenced products and the state of the dining room. He added, “Nothing is possible without the willingness and training of the team. It’s a partnership.”
And then the newspaper asks this very touching question: “But why would they want to undergo such a drastic certification process?”
Doesn’t this “drastic certification process” with only 70% compliance also mean there was 30% non compliance?
In short, the answer is of interest:
“Simply because I believe that many restaurateurs call themselves professionals and are not. It’s also a choice to take a qualitative step for me and my clients who are reassured to know that they can come to … with peace of mind.” [Note: names of restaurants have been removed.] This hygiene certification attracts few restaurateurs in Toulouse mainly because of the personal investment and the financial cost. A pioneer in the field, … of the … Brasserie: “In this profession, rigor must be everywhere: from the way the personnel are dressed to the traceability of the food.” Another candidate for this strict evaluation: … manager and founder of … “This process is truly a constraint but it is a guarantee of our profession where close is never good enough.” “To undertake this evaluation, the company must free up a certain amount of money,” admits Patrice Rotat, head of the BVC for Toulouse who clearly stipulates that this evaluation does not replace the veterinary inspections.”
It’s an age-old problem. Hygiene has a price; we also know that it has no price, for the consumers/clients. You might as well get started…
It would be interesting to know, if with 70% compliance and, perhaps, 30% non compliance, what the veterinary services would have thought, as they are the ones who do the “real” inspections.
Seventy per cent compliance to get a safety certificate? Why not? Everyone has to make a living, but does the consumer know what this really means?
How can we distinguish a restaurant that obtained 100% compliance from one that only got 70% and puts up the same certificate? The reality of this type of certification, even if it is a step in the right direction, can also be challenged because the restaurateur says that he prepared with his team for a year. The inspection by this company, was it announced or was it impromptu? We don’t know. Nothing is said either about the next goal: more than 70% compliance?
Preparing for a year to obtain what seems to be normal hygiene says it all.
In the end, what should we take from this report, closer to marketing food safety than the culture of food safety, is that there is still work to be done in spite of the total number of inspections undertaken by the DGAL. This time, change is not for now.