As residents and business owners in the Carolinas continue to battle the effects of Hurricane Florence, the National Restaurant Association is emphasizing important procedures to follow to ensure the safety of you, your employees and customers.

The storm, downgraded to a Category 1, is still pelting the coastal cities, with high winds and flooding causing damage.

To support restaurant and hospitality businesses affected by the storm, we’ve taken a lead role in urging Congress, the White House, the Small Business Administration and other agencies to help restaurants reopen as soon as possible.

We’ve also created a resources page with contact information and other materials that may help during the emergency.

In addition, our ServSafe and food safety subject matter experts have also offered four tips to follow during a weather emergency. They are:

  1. Ensure you have an updated contact for your regulatory authority. If an imminent health hazard occurs because of the hurricane, you would need in almost all cases to cease operations. You must notify your regulatory authority if your operation is affected. An imminent health hazard is a significant threat or danger with sufficient evidence showing that “a product, practice, circumstance, or event has created a situation requiring immediate correction or cessation of operation to prevent injury.” These hazards could be fires, floods, extended interruption of electrical or water service, sewage backups or gross insanitary conditions.
  2. Review, communicate and execute your emergency preparedness plan with all staff. This could include providing emergency contact numbers to staff, determining who would be first to work on reopening the facility, how to clean and sanitize the store, including equipment and food contact surfaces, or how to take corrective action if food is damaged or left out of appropriate temperature control.
  3. Work with your suppliers to assess your food inventory. This will limit the amount of potential loss. In the days leading up to a storm, it’s important you keep a close eye on TCS food inventory to ensure there isn’t an overstock in the coolers. A loss of electricity during an extended period could result in food spoilage and disposal. At the same time, your restaurant might not be affected by the storm, but personal homes may use it a source of food for those in the community. That’s why it is essential to plan with your suppliers to ensure you have just the right amount of food available.
  4. Take into consideration the need for potable water. A water shortage may affect items such as ice production and/or water used for cleaning and sanitizing. You may want to have bottled water, hand sanitizer and/or alcohol wipes on hand if your water supply is limited.

For more information about restaurant food safety, visit Food Safety Focus. For additional hurricane preparedness information, visit our Hurricane news and resources page