Whether written in chalk on a sandwich board or displayed in elegant fonts in a leather bound folder, menus exist in nearly every restaurant around the world. They also play an important role in food safety and preventing the spread of food-borne illness. In a recent food manager certification training session we engaged in a discussion about what style of menu best promotes food safety, and this week we’d like to share our findings.
Food Manager Certification Training for Keeping Menus Safe
If a restaurant places menus on the table, guests inevitably pick it up. Sometimes food spills on menus and used eating utensils come into contact with the surface. Each of these things potentially transfer bacteria onto these menus that can cause food-borne illness. Different types pose different levels of risk, and some of the menu solutions we’ve looked at include:
- Overhead signs
Some food managers use disposable paper menus to prevent one guest from spreading an illness to the next. This is effective only if the menus are disposed of after each diner uses them. Paper menus come with the added cost of the regular purchase of paper goods and the time it takes to print them before, after and even during service if supply runs low.
Laminated menus last longer than paper menus, but an increased risk of spreading bacteria comes if cleaning is infrequent. We’ve visited restaurants where laminated menus feel slick and greasy and may not have been sanitized. Laminated menus beat paper as far as cost effectiveness goes, but sanitation should occur between guests.
From a food manager certification training perspective, an overhead sign poses no real food safety threat to guests. This or a sandwich board offers a good solution for establishments that take orders at a counter rather than provide table-side service.
Many restaurants experiment with the use of digital menus. These range from a tablet left by a server or a touch screen permanently resting on the table. Using a device as a menu may raise operating costs, but they give your customers a unique experience as games and videos give them extra entertainment while waiting for food to arrive. It helps speed up service during busy times as guests can place an order without a server’s assistance. The screens of these need cleaning often as guests will frequently touch them.
Do you consider the spread of food-borne illness when deciding what type of menu to use in your facility?